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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2003 / 06 

Virginia Tech Professor Presented Infrastructure Research At Homeland Security Summit

June 25, 2003

A Virginia Tech professor was invited to present infrastructure research at the Virginia Institute for Defense and Homeland Security Research Summit, in Washington, DC on June 25.

Saifur Rahman, director of the Alexandria Research Institute and professor of electrical and computer engineering presented the project "The Critical Infrastructure Modeling and Assessment Program (CIMAP)" at the research summit on Wednesday.

"We are conducting research to secure the nation's critical infrastructure for improving public safety," Rahman said. "For example, we are improving traffic flow by providing reliable communications so signaling can be adequately programmed and supported."

The CIMAP thesis is to provide state and federal policymakers and legislators with long-term perspectives and guidance on the issues that affect the planning, commissioning and operation of critical infrastructures, such as the region's traffic light system.

To achieve its goal of providing long-term perspective, CIMAP analyzes the changing demands on individual infrastructures, examines how these charges are leading to greater infrastructure interdependencies, and determines how the growing interdependencies will affect the capability and availability of individual infrastructures.

"For example, a gas pipeline may affect traffic lights. If the natural gas for the pipeline is blocked, then the power plant that relies on natural gas will fail, which will cause the electricity that supports the traffic control center to be lost, which will in turn, make the traffic lights malfunction. CIMAP works to anticipate how infrastructures such as these influence each other," Rahman said.

The CIMAP project involves four elements. The first element strives to examine the infrastructure security in the Washington metropolitan region. As researchers become familiar with the area, they are able to assess regional vulnerabilities, and identify, as well as prioritize, infrastructure interdependencies for protection and damage control.

The second element, electric power transmission line monitoring, analyzes data to determine the risk of cascading failures that lead to blackouts. The element also includes monitoring for early detection and warning signs of relay failures.

Enhancing power quality and security of supply is the third element. The concept refers to identifying alternative energy sources for reliability in emergencies.

The fourth and final element is data visualization. CIMAP creates graphical representations of large amounts of data to help the viewer understand and interpret the big picture for a given area.

For more information about CIMAP, please visit or contact Saifur Rahman at (703) 518-8080 or

The Virginia Institute for Defense and Homeland Security (IDHS) is a university and industry research consortium dedicated to delivering solutions that support the United States' homeland security and defense objectives.