US Secret Service taps video game, 3D technology for advanced security training

US Secret Service goes virtual to gain security insights

Secret Service virtual tool
When it comes to preparing for all manner of security threats, the more realistic the training can be the better. That's why the US Secret Service said it has developed a software system that uses gaming technology and 3D modeling to offer high-tech training for its personnel.

With funding from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate, the Secret Service developed the Site Security Planning Tool (SSPT), a training system dubbed "Virtual Tiny Town" to offer service members preparation against chemical, biological or radiological attacks, armed assaults, suicide bombers and other threats, the service stated.

SSPT features include:

  • 3D models and game-based virtual environments
  • Simulated chemical plume dispersion for making and assessing decisions
  • A touch interface to foster collaborative, interactive involvement by student teams
  • A means to devise, configure, and test a security plan that is simple, engaging, and flexible
  • Third- and first-person viewing perspectives for overhead site evaluation and for a virtual "walk-through" of the site, reflecting how it would be performed in the field.

According to the Secret Service, the system consists of three kiosks, each composed of a 55" Perceptive Pixel touch screen with an attached projector and camera, and a computer running Virtual Battle Space (VBS2) as the base simulation game.

The kiosks can handle a team of up to four students, and each kiosk's environment, along with the team's crafted site security plan, can be displayed on a large wall-mounted LED 3D TV monitor for conducting briefings and demonstrating simulated security challenges and responses, the service stated.

Future enhancements to SSPT will include modeling the resulting health effects and crowd behaviors of a chemical, radiological or biological attack, to better prepare personnel for a more comprehensive array of scenarios and the necessary life-saving actions required to protect dignitaries and the public alike, the service stated.

The system largely replaces a miniature static model training environment known as  "Tiny Town" that has been in use by the agency for 40 years. According to the service, the model includes an airport, outdoor stadium, urban rally site and a hotel interior and uses scaled models of buildings, cars and security assets. Tiny Town let trainees illustrate and map for example, a dignitary's entire itinerary and plan for security.   

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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