WCU, tech company to develop disaster preparedness laboratory

The Institute for the Economy and the Future, the regional think tank and economic development arm of Western Carolina University, will team up with a leading technology company to develop a new laboratory to help Western North Carolina businesses and governmental entities prepare for terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

IEF and the Science Applications International Corp. announced Monday, Sept. 18, the intent to work together to establish the Consequence Analysis Solutions Laboratory, an initiative to be known as CASTLE.

The laboratory is among the first public-private partnerships being developed as part of the university’s Millennial Initiative, an ambitious and comprehensive regional economic development strategy that will enable the university to partner with business, industry and government.

“We are very excited about this announcement with SAIC, and we look forward to pursuing additional public-private partnership arrangements like this one with SAIC as we begin our Millennial Initiative,” said Paul Evans, director of the IEF.

When complete, the lab will provide IEF an analysis and simulation laboratory environment to identify and develop best practices and standards for crisis management for a wide variety of hazard and disaster situations for commercial business and government needs.

“Regional industries, emergency management teams and government officials will benefit from consequence analysis and simulation-based solution testing of crisis event scenarios,” said Evans. “This initiative’s focus on best practices, standards and solution testing is intended to bring a new level of implementation effectiveness to the increased corporate attention being paid to internal disaster and crisis management preparedness.”

The IEF is a regional think tank with capacities for rigorous research, economic base analysis, issue polling and employment trend analysis. The institute conducts public policy analysis and applied research, and administers public service projects on economic and community capacity building, and strategic development.

SAIC is a leading systems, solutions and technical services company that works to solve customers’ mission-critical problems with innovative applications of technology and expertise. SAIC is a platform-independent provider of scientific, engineering and systems integration services drawing on a wealth of technology and integration options. Its engineers and scientists work to solve complex technical problems in the areas of national security, homeland security, energy, the environment, space, telecommunications, health care and logistics.

For more information about the IEF, visit the Web site at http://ief.wcu.edu.