Washington, Apr 10 (ANI): Amid increasing terror threats, it could be a humongous task to evacuate around 70,000 people in case of a bomb scare in a packed stadium. Now, scientists have found a solution as to how to accomplish this feat-by using avatars in a virtual situation.
The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi has created a new breed of simulation software-dubbed SportEvac.
"SportEvac isn't simply more realistic. It will become a national standard," said program manager Mike Matthews of S and Ts Infrastructure and Geophysical Division.
Using blueprints from actual stadiums, the developers are creating virtual, 3D e stadiums, packed with as many as 70,000 avatars-animated human agents programmed to respond to threats as unpredictably as humans.
Security planners will be able to see how 70,000 fans would behave?and misbehave?when spooked by a security threat.
But a SportEvac avatar need not be a sports fan-the simulation includes make-believe stadium workers, first responders, even objects, such as a fire trucks or a fan's car.
SportEvac tracks them all, accounting for scenarios both probable and improbable.
As simulating thousands of people and cars could impose a crushing load on software and hardware, thus, unlike SportEvac, most evacuation software apps are unable to simulate a crowd much larger than 5,000.
Like an open-source Web browser, the SportEvac software will get better and better because it's built on open, modular code.
If your IT intern creates a module that can more accurately predict parking lot gridlock, just plug it in. This also means it can be customized for any sports arena.
By simulating how sports fans would behave in the minutes following an attack, SportEvac will help security experts across the country to plan and train and answer key questions, like how can a stadium be evacuated in the shortest time.
It can also tell how can civil emergency workers quickly get in as fans are dashing out and how can stadium guards and ushers provide valuable information to civil responders and assist them as the evacuation unfolds.
"Interoperability is also a key goal," said Lou Marciani, NCS4 Director, who serves as the SnT project's principal investigator.
Stadium security officers can use SportEvac to rehearse and refine procedures with civil responders.
During a real evacuation, guards might use the same radios as the civil responders.
And for every usher with a smartphone, a "SportEvac Lite" application will graphically show where fans or cars are bottlenecked.
SportEvac will create a safe, virtual stadium where security teams can practice guiding fans to safety, without risking life, limb, or lawsuit. (ANI)