Video Games Being Used For ER Tests
Nov. 7 - KGO (KGO) -- Over 30 local and state agencies joined forces on the Peninsula today to prepare for a chemical and radiological attack. But unlike previous training exercises, this one involved new technology right out of video games.
Technology is playing a crucial role for any emergency response team. Remote sensors, for example, can be set out to detect and track toxic chemical clouds.
Now there is a new tool, developed by Menlo Park's SRI International. The ability to create a 3D view of a disaster scene. It looks and responds like a video game.
John Shockley, SRI International Engineer: "It does look like a video game, and part of that, the reason is that we're using technologies from the video game industry, along with the military simulation industry, and geographical information systems, we're blending those together to create the 3D referenced virtual world."
GPS, or global positioning satellites, track the movement of emergency crews. Incident commanders can determine where they are and whether they're at risk. That's critical for this training session because it's a simulated chemical and radiological attack.
John Shockley: "It's important to see where everybody is with respect to the contaminated area. So, for example, our chemical spill, we can outline in our 3D world the extent of the hazardous chemical, the plume cloud, if you will, and make sure that we don't have participants spending too much time in the hazardous zone or the hot zone."
This is the first time local police and fire agencies are using it. Their every move will be recorded and evaluated so they can learn from this exercise.
Col. Bill Hatch, California National Guard: "They enter into that virtual reality world and are players, and we watch it on a screen, and when it's over, we're able to play it back to them and give them fidelity of force behavior, force-on-force interaction that you cannot get anywhere else in the world."
SRI has been given $4 million dollars in funding annually for the past five years to develop this system for the California National Guard.
Col. Jeffrey Smiley, 95th Civil Support Team: "Through SRI Technology, we all now get to sit back, participate and make comment to make it better."
This technology was developed initially for the military and still is being embraced by the military, but now it's trickling down to civilian agencies, ultimately to make the public safer.
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