DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Officials in charge of organizing response plans and resource distribution strategies in preparation for major emergencies, such as terrorist attacks or disease outbreaks, will soon have a new resource for identifying problem areas and strengthening response plans.
Dr. Armin Mikler, professor of computer science and engineering in UNT’s College of Engineering, has received an almost $800,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a computer-based system that will help emergency planners identify vulnerable populations, such as those with no access to vehicles or who cannot leave their homes, and modify response plans accordingly.
Mikler is working with Tarrant County Public Health on the project, which involves the use of a computer system named “RE-PLAN,” which stands for Response Plan Analyzer.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mandates that all counties have to prepare for adverse events, and our RE-PLAN system can serve as a very useful interface for identifying problem areas and better preparing for emergencies,” Mikler said.
Tarrant County Public Health Preparedness Planner Mark Fulmer said the system offers a wide variety of interactive tools to help planners prepare for different scenarios, such as major highways becoming inaccessible and causing resource deliveries to reroute.
“Plans are most successful when plenty of data is available for research and testing,” Fulmer said. “The RE-PLAN system’s benefits really boil down to being a strong source of information that we can use to evaluate and test plans, which is essential before any incident actually occurs.”
Mikler is working with Dr. Chetan Tiwari from UNT’s College of Arts and Sciences; Drs. Tamara Schneider and Renee Bryce from UNT’s College of Engineering; and Dr. Suhasini Ramisetty-Mikler from the UNT Health Science Center on the project.