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Disaster Response on September 11, 2001: Through the Lens of Statistical Network Analysis

Miruna Petrescu-Prahova

August 2012 CSSS Working Paper #116



The rescue and relief operations triggered by the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City demanded collaboration among hundreds of organisations. To shed light on the response to the September 11, 2001 attacks and to help to plan and prepare the response to future disasters, we study the inter-organisational network that emerged in response to the attacks. Studying the inter-organisational network can help to shed light on (1) whether some organisations dominated the inter-organisational network and were able to coordinate the disaster response; (2) whether the dominating organisations were supposed to coordinate disaster response or emerged as coordinators in the wake of the disaster; and (3) the degree of network redundancy and sensitivity of the inter-organisational network to disturbances. We introduce a Bayesian framework which can answer the substantive questions of interest while being as simple and parsimonious as possible. The framework allows organisations to have varying propensities to collaborate, while taking covariates into account,
and allows to assess whether the inter-organisational network had network redundancy-in the form of transitivity-by using a test which may be regarded as a Bayesian score test. We discuss implications in terms of disaster management.

Keywords: discrete exponential families, hierarchical models, mixture models, model- based clustering, social networks, stochastic block models