Improving Security in Polycentric Cities

Peter DiMaggio
Senior Principal and Protective Design Practice Leader
Thornton Tomasetti, New York City

Increased threats across the globe have created a need for proactively and predictively protecting critical assets, infrastructure, and people from terrorist attacks. This is especially true in developing cities, where the density of building occupants in supertall buildings, public spaces, and transit hubs provides a very attractive target to potential terrorists. New and more effective ways of dealing with this problem are needed, as well as more adept methods of thwarting today’s highly trained and extremely creative terrorist element. This presentation highlights innovative concepts and techniques for holistically mitigating the effects of terrorist attacks, and securing buildings and infrastructure against forced entry, ballistic attack, vehicle ramming, progressive collapse, active shooters, chem-bio attacks, eavesdropping, cyber-attacks, incendiary devices, and explosive bomb blasts.

Some examples of advanced technical security measures include the use of innovative facial recognition software to scan large crowds entering public venues, as well as retinal scanners, which measure the pattern of blood vessels behind the eye, limiting access to critical data to appropriate parties. On the physical security side, engineers are deploying proprietary ionoplast glass interlayers to minimize the hazard of flying glass shards in the event of a high explosive loading. At the same time, artificial intelligence is being used to predict personnel movements in order to study and develop effective egress paths in the event of an active shooter. By utilizing innovative physical, technical, and operational security measures such as these, specially tailored to the threat and facility in question, utilized in a holistic, layered approach, we can effectively mitigate the ramifications of a major terrorist event, while still creating our cities of the future.