How The US Coast Guard Uses Game Theory To Protect New York City

the-coast-guard-cant-be-in-all-places-at-one-timeFrom a small room in a Pakistan house, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) was shaken to its core in 2011.
Within the data seized from Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound was the al Qaeda plan to blow up oil tankers in U.S. waters to create an “extreme economic crisis.”

Protecting tankers at home is part of what the USCG does, and faced with a fixed amount of resources and a growing threat, it got innovative.

The USCG looked to game theorists — mathematicians who specialize in a unique brand of numerical models — to help them do more with less resources.

The result was the Port Resilience Operational / Tactical Enforcement to Combat Terrorism (PROTECT) Model. PROTECT is the real reason millions of New Yorkers feel safe riding the Staten Island Ferry each year, and ship captains and crews traveling through feel secure.

It is why cruise line passengers never have to worry about their ship going down in a fiery wad of metal and overpriced booze, the target of a terrorist strike no one saw coming.

We spent the day with Coast Guard Sector New York as they patrolled the ferries, ships, and the sensitive infrastructure around the city of New York to understand just how it all works.

This is what we saw.

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