New York University’s Wagner School is part of a consortium of major research universities selected by the United States Department of Homeland Security to form the first-ever Homeland Security Center for Excellence. The center, which will be housed at the University of Southern California, will study the potential targets and means of terrorists, focusing on how best to protect the country’s critical infrastructure, including its electrical grid, transportation systems, and communications networks.

“We are honored to have been selected to play such a critical role in helping the United States government devise innovative ways of protecting our civil infrastructure,” said Rae Zimmerman, a professor of planning and public administration at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the director of the school’s Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems. Zimmerman, who has focused on critical infrastructure protection issues raised by the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, will be heading up the center’s efforts in that area.

In addition to studying threats to the nation’s infrastructure systems, the Homeland Security Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events will develop tools for planning responses to emergencies to minimize the threat to human lives in the event of an attack. The center is expected to receive $12 million in funding over the next three years. Other universities participating in the center include the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of California, Berkeley.

The announcement comes on the heels of NYU’s introduction of Tom Daniel as the head of its center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response, which will conduct research on a possible large-scale catastrophic event in a metropolitan area. Some $14 million in initial federal funding has been made available to the center through the Department of Homeland Security. It is the only federally funded center in New York dedicated to research on emergency preparedness and response, and one of only a small number of such centers nationwide.

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