Homeland Security Taps S4 Inc. to Develop IED Attack Communications Framework

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has selected S4 Inc. to research and develop communication plans and programs for use by first responders, government officials, civic leaders and others to inform the public about threats, preparations and responses relating to imminent or actual attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate has selected S4 Inc. to research and develop communication plans and programs for use by first responders, government officials, civic leaders and others to inform the public about threats, preparations and responses relating to imminent or actual attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The use of IEDs has not been limited to Iraq, Afghanistan and other distant places. IED attacks have occurred on U.S. soil. Incidents at the World Trade Center in 1993, Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, and Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, all involved IEDs in some form. Because experience with IEDs has been limited, the methods used by government and civic leaders to inform and direct the public during a potential or actual attack are derived largely from experience with natural or technological disasters, criminal activity and civil disturbances.

When an IED attack occurs, the ability to provide information quickly and accurately is critical to saving lives, preventing widespread damage, and maintaining social cohesion and government trust. New and emerging innovations in personal communications and changes in the way the public receives and perceives information offer unique opportunities, as well as challenges, for communicating IED threat information. The DHS project will look at current IED/terrorism-related communication practices, both domestically and internationally, as well as the benefits and challenges associated with using Web 2.0 digital communications methods such as cell phones PDAs, and social networking sites.

An important element of this effort includes a conference with subject matter experts from academia, government, media, and the private and non-profit sectors convening fall 2010 to examine communication alternatives and develop guidelines for framing hazard and risk warnings in the event of a terrorist attack using IEDs. The result of the research effort and conference will be an IED communications guide for government officials, civic leaders and first responders.

About S4 Inc.
S4 Inc. is a professional services and consulting firm catering to the U.S. government and private entities. The company has partnered on this project with scholars and researchers in the fields of risk analysis, risk perception and risk and disaster communications, including Dr. Vincent Covello of the Center for Risk Communications in New York City and a team consisting of Dr. Steven Becker, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. Michael Palenchar, of the University of Tennessee, and Dr. Ortwin Renn, of the University of Stuttgart.

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Mark Pfeifle
S4 Inc.
703-418-0040
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