New software developed by a current student and Temple alumnus aims to be able to calculate potential risks of terrorist attacks.
Nan Li, a Ph.D. student and Fei Meng, a 2005 graduate, began developing the software, called Sunstone, along with consulting company Towers Watson in March. They have recently finished the first version.
Meng is currently employed with the company and Li is an intern. The programmers said their idea is the first software of its kind to specifically focus on terrorism. If this software takes off as well as it is predicted to, it could change the outlook of insurance and security companies, Li and Meng said.
Li and Meng said they were able to use their computer science backgrounds to develop their product for insurance companies. Insurance companies use this software in order to evaluate their potential risks. This can help the companies save money and change their business strategies.
Sunstone works by taking a building or a location and predicting the potential risks of the building being attacked. Companies can also give Sunstone a scenario and it can tell you how much loss it will incur.
“We can both cope and make software,” Li said. “Our group in this business is about risk management, especially for the catastrophe model, a catastrophe like Hurricane Sandy.”
If Sunstone is given qualities of a building, it can calculate the distance of the building and the targets around it to determine possible risks of the area.
Sunstone has examined more than 60 different terrorist attacks, such as nuclear bombing and biochemical attacks. Each of these attacks has special properties that can be brought together to obtain a large matrix. Each entry of the matrix gives the probability of a terrorist attack in that location.
Li and Meng said their product has already received positive reviews and looks to have a promising future. The researchers said there is a line of potential clients asking about the product.
The researchers said their goal is to market Sunstone beyond insurance companies to public security offices. Towers Watson is an international company and its international offices have connections with public security offices. Li hopes this will give Sunstone a chance to expand.
If Sunstone does well, the company will profit from it, and Li and Meng will receive more resources to expand the software. They said they want to continue expanding Sunstone and make it easier to use.
Caitlin Kaczynski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.