Rutgers University will be among 10 universities to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to study criminal and terror attacks on crowds at "soft targets" like schools, hospitals, shopping centers and sports arenas.
The New Brunswick-based university, which is one of the country's leading public research universities, announced the $3.6 million grant on Thursday that will towards "developing science and technology solutions to combat emerging threats." It's part of the first of a 10-year grant to fund what's being called the Center of Excellence for Engineering Secure Environments from Targeted Attacks (ESE).
“The challenges of keeping people safe in soft targets and crowded spaces gets more complicated every day,” said Fred Roberts, a professor of mathematics at Rutgers.
The ESE will also train the next generation of homeland security leaders, DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a news release.
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At the same time, the School of Engineering will be tasked with projects to forecast risk assessment and mitigate threats.
“This project provides the potential to collaborate with DHS, as well as academic, public and private partners to address real-world needs and make our buildings, facilities and societies safer,” Jie Gong, an associate professor in the School of Engineering’s Department of Civil Engineering who will be the project's leader, said. “If our proposed system is successful, its potential for proactive, real-time responsiveness and situational awareness could change how police and emergency response crews react to terrorist and criminal attacks and emergencies.”