Techniques Used to Manage Call Center Customers Can Help Predict Terror Plots
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, Edward H. Kaplan, the William N. and Marie A. Beach Professor of Management Sciences, Professor of Public Health, and Professor of Engineering, has been applying the tools of operations research to address problems in counterterrorism and homeland security. His recent work in this area has been conducted under the auspices of the Technion-Yale Initiative in Homeland Security and Counterterror Operations Research, a three-year partnership supported by a gift from Daniel Rose, chairman of Rose Associates, Inc. and a 1951 graduate of Yale College.
In a podcast with the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), Kaplan discusses his new study Terror Queues, published in the July/August issue of Operations Research. In the paper, Kaplan borrows from queuing theory to create a novel method for estimating the number of undetected terror plots and how many of those threats can be detected and stopped by intelligence agents. Queuing models provide information about customers and service providers in a system and are most often used to improve service for customers waiting in checkout lines, call center phone queues, and hospital waiting rooms. In Kaplanís terror queue models, terror plots are the customers, undercover intelligence agents are the service providers, and detection of terror plots is the service they provide.
"If the estimated number of ongoing but undetected plots is high, it suggests that additional undercover resources are needed to increase the detection rate," explains Kaplan. "On the other hand, if you really donít estimate that there are many more plots beyond those that you know about, then maybe the current effort is sufficient."
Listen to the podcast.