A crowdsourced determination of the US Government’s Threat Level.


Jonah Brucker-Cohen in cooperation with the US Department of Art and Technology


A Convention Intervention! @ LUXE Gallery, NYC, NY from 8/21/04 to 9/4/04.


The Homeland Insecurity Advisory System (HIAS) was a public rating system that allows people from across the globe to determine the US Government’s Threat Level by collectively rating RSS feeds from major US news sources. Turning the “Homeland Security” threat level on its head, the HIAS system allowed the people to collaboratively challenge this internally determined (and seemingly arbitrary) threat condition. The system also allowed for the individual major US news sources to be rated according to their support level for or against the US Government’s actions. Finally, the citizens of the world have a voice in determining the threat level of the most dangerous goverment on the planet. The HIAS system also allows people to display the Threat Level on their own site. This ensures that the system is as widely distributed as possible.

Screenshot of voting interface with RSS feeds:


The world has changed since September 11, 2001. Since that fateful day, the US Government has taken unprecedented measures to secure its national borders, defend freedom worldwide, and attempt to destroy the evils of the world. The HIAS exists to give the people a much needed collective voice in determining how the US Government’s international and domestic policies effect them. This is a fundamental right of every US citizen, as well as the right of a global audience to establish a consensus throughout the world. If the US Government can seemingly arbitrarily manipulate fear in the hearts and minds of citizens worldwide by raising and lowering its Threat Advisory System based on ‘supposed’ threats from abroad, then a system should be in place to monitor the Government’s own threat level. This is only fair for democracy to continue.


The HIAS is a collaborative threat level monitor that changes based on ratings of US and Global news feeds collected by people visiting the website. A random news feed is displayed from sources such as CNN, FOX News, ABC news, BBC World, The New York Times, Washington Post, etc… and visitors are asked to rate these based on four criteria from a scale of positive [1] to negative [5] :

1. Goverment Action Described
2. Goverment Action Taken
3. Result of Goverment Action
4. Threat Level of Goverment Action

How a visitor to the site rates each news feed is completely subjective and all votes are counted at face value. All of the ratings are tallied and averaged with the final value determining the overall threat level.

Threat Conditions

Below is an image that shows the Threat Conditions that result from the public rating system.

More details on this can be found on the FAQ page:

1. Benign Condition (Green)
This condition is declared when there is a low risk of Government failure. This means that the Federal Government is actually acting on the public’s behalf.

2. Danger Condition (Blue)
This condition is declared when there is a general risk of Government failure. This means people should be careful of Federal Government activities and begin to worry.

2. Frightened Condition (Yellow)

A Frightened Condition is declared when there is a significant risk of Government failure. This means citizens should question Federal Government activities and plan to protest.

4. Horrific Condition (Orange)
A Horrific Condition is declared when there is a significant risk of Government failure. This means the citizens must rigorously engage in protest actions and acknowledge their countries failures publicly.

5. Apocalyptic Condition (Red)
An Apocalyptic Condition reflects a severe risk of Government failure. Under most circumstances, an Apocalyptic Condition is not intended to be sustained for substantial periods of time (or at least until the next election). This condition designates serious citizen action needed above and beyond the call of duty. It also might make other countries very appealing as places of asylum.