Local company’s focus is anti-terrorism, criminal attacks

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 17, 2003

Applied Research Associates has been working on anti-terrorism just about from the first day the New Mexico-based company opened its office in Vicksburg.

The company provides clients served from the local office services, such as security engineering, risk management and training, computer consulting and environmental services.

ARA came to Vicksburg in 1983 and grew from small offices on Openwood Street to successively larger and larger offices until its current two buildings on Monument Place, off Halls Ferry Road. It also has plans to expand the building it just opened this month.

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Applied Research was founded in Albuquerque, N.M., in 1979 and has grown to about 800 employees with about 60 of those working in the Southern Division in Vicksburg.

“Generally, we don’t service the general public,” said Joseph Smith, ARA vice president and manager of the Southern Division, beginning to describe the services the company supplies to clients that range from the U.S. Army Engineering Research and Development Center here to the General Services Administration to the Smithsonian Institution.

Smith said ARA is an engineering and sciences company that provides such services such as security engineering, risk management and training, computer consulting and environmental services.

The vast majority of its clients are the federal government, but they also number state and local governments and some large corporations.

“We have been generally involved in the area of anti-terrorism since about 1983,” Smith said, adding that some of the clients it has served include the U.S. Department of State and the Army Corps of Engineers.

He said the work ARA does normally consists of developing assessments facilities to determine the risk they face in attack, from either criminals or terrorists.

They then recommend how to lessen the threat and reduce the risks followed by suggestions how to reduce the consequences if a terrorist act takes place.

According to company literature, ARA has developed techniques that can predict the type and extent of damage a building might experience.

“The best we can reasonably expect is a good understanding of potential vulnerabilities and then take reasonable and prudent steps to mitigate the consequences and reduce the chances of something being perpetrated against them,” Smith said.

After the threat is assessed, he said some of the countermeasures ARA might recommend are things the client can do to keep potential threats from getting close to a building or the recommendations could be operational measures such as electronic sensors or guard forces and the suggestions could include suggestions for hardening the structure to protect the people and contents.

“Generally what we provide is a whole package of mitigation all the way from the potential threat and what we are trying to protect,” Smith said.

“And those measures can be physical, electronic or operational.”

Although ARA would not get involved in designing an electronic security system for a small business, it would do something similar for large clients such as a headquarters for a major federal agency.

ARA has a contract with ERDC to support the agency in just about every laboratory and branch from the Environmental Lab through the Structures Lab.

Most of the consulting with ERDC is in the scientific areas such as chemical and biological areas for the Environmental Lab in cleaning up soil that has been contaminated on former federal installations.

One of the fields deals with old firing ranges that have been contaminated with lead from spent bullets and how to either get the lead out of the soil or keep it from spreading to other resources.

“The majority of the 60 jobs, ARA provides in Vicksburg are high-end-level, professionals,” Smith said.