skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on May 29, 2023

Title: Multi-agent Crowd Simulation in an Active Shooter Environment
In recent years there has been a sharp increase in active shooter events, but there has been no introduction of new technology or tactics capable of increasing preparedness and training for active shooter events. This has raised a major concern about the lack of tools that would allow robust predictions of realistic human movements and the lack of understanding about the interaction in designated simulation environments. It is impractical to carry out live experiments where thousands of people are evacuated from buildings designed for every possible emergency condition. There has been progress in understanding human movement, human motion synthesis, crowd dynamics, indoor environments, and their relationships with active shooter events, but challenges remain. This paper presents a virtual reality (VR) experimental setup for conducting virtual evacuation drills in response to extreme events and demonstrates the behavior of agents during an active shooter environment. The behavior of agents is implemented using behavior trees in the Unity gaming engine. The VR experimental setup can simulate human behavior during an active shooter event in a campus setting. A presence questionnaire (PQ) was used in the user study to evaluate the effectiveness and engagement of our active shooter environment. The results show that majority more » of users agreed that the sense of presence was increased when using the emergency response training environment for a building evacuation environment. « less
Chen, J.Y.C.
Award ID(s):
2131116 2026412 1923986
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Lecture notes in computer science
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. During active shooter events or emergencies, the ability of security personnel to respond appropriately to the situation is driven by pre-existing knowledge and skills, but also depends upon their state of mind and familiarity with similar scenarios. Human behavior becomes unpredictable when it comes to making a decision in emergency situations. The cost and risk of determining these human behavior characteristics in emergency situations is very high. This paper presents an immersive collaborative virtual reality (VR) environment for performing virtual building evacuation drills and active shooter training scenarios using Oculus Rift head mounted displays. The collaborative immersive environment is implementedmore »in Unity 3D and is based on run, hide, and fight mode for emergency response. The immersive collaborative VR environment also offers a unique method for training in emergencies for campus safety. The participant can enter the collaborative VR environment setup on the cloud and participate in the active shooter response training environment, which leads to considerable cost advantages over large-scale real-life exercises. A presence questionnaire in the user study was used to evaluate the effectiveness of our immersive training module. The results show that a majority of users agreed that their sense of presence was increased when using the immersive emergency« less
  2. Active shooter events are not emergencies that can be reasonably anticipated. However, these events do occur more than we think, and there is a critical need for an effective emergency preparedness plan that can increase the likelihood of saving lives and reducing casualties in the event of an active shooting incident. There has been a major concern about the lack of tools available to allow for modeling and simulation of human behavior during emergency response training. Over the past few decades, virtual reality-based training for emergency response and decision making has been recognized as a novel alternative for disaster preparedness.more »This paper presents an immersive virtual reality (VR) training module for active shooter events for a building emergency response. There are two immersive active shooter modules developed: occupant’s module and Security personnel module. We have developed an immersive virtual reality training module for active shooter events using an Oculus for the course of action, visualization, and situational awareness for active shooter events. The immersive environment is implemented in Unity 3D where the user has an option to enter the environment as security personnel or as an occupant in the building. The immersive VR training module offers a unique platform for emergency response and decision making training. The platform allows for collecting data on different what-if scenarios in response to active shooter events that impact the actions of security personnel and occupants in a building. The data collected can be used to educate security personnel on how to reduce response times. Moreover, security personnel can be trained to respond to a variety of emergencies safely and securely without ever being exposed to real-world dangers.« less
  3. Emergency response training is needed to remember and implement emergency operation plans (EOP) and procedures over long periods until an emergency occurs. There is also a need to develop an effective mechanism of teamwork under emergency conditions such as bomb blasts and active shooter events inside a building. One way to address these needs is to create a collaborative training module to study these emergencies and perform virtual evacuation drills. This paper presents a collaborative virtual reality (VR) environment for performing emergency response training for fire and smoke as well as for active shooter training scenarios. The collaborative environment ismore »implemented in Unity 3D and is based on run, hide, and fight mode of emergency response. Our proposed collaborative virtual environment (CVE) is set up on the cloud and the participants can enter the VR environment as a policeman or as a civilian. We have used game creation as a metaphor for developing a CVE platform for conducting training exercises for different what-if scenarios in a safe and cost-effective manner. The novelty of our work lies in modeling behaviors of two kinds of agents in the environment: user-controlled agents and computer-controlled agents. The computer controlled agents are defined with preexisting rules of behaviors whereas the user controlled agents are autonomous agents that provide controls to the user to navigate in the CVE at their own pace. Our contribution lies in our approach to combine these two approaches of behavior to perform emergency response training for building evacuation.« less
  4. During emergencies communicating in multi-level built environment becomes challenging because architectural complexity can create problems with visual and mental representation of 3D space. Our Hololens application gives a visual representation of a building on campus in 3D space, allowing people to see where exits are in the building as well as creating alerts for anomalous behavior for emergency response such as active shooter, fire, and smoke. It also gives path to the various exits; shortest path to the exits as well as directions to a safe zone from their current position. The augmented reality (AR) application was developed in Unitymore »3D for Microsoft HoloLens and also is deployed on tablets and smartphones. It is a fast and robust marker detection technique inspired by the use of Vuforia AR library. Our aim is to enhance the evacuation process by ensuring that all building patrons know all of the building exits and how to get to them, which improves evacuation time and eradicates the injuries and fatalities occurring during indoor crises such as building fires and active shooter events. We have incorporated existing permanent features in the building as markers for the AR application to trigger the floor plan and subsequent location of the person in the building. This work also describes the system architecture as well as the design and implementation of this AR application to leverage HoloLens for building evacuation purposes. We believe that AR technologies like HoloLens could be adopted for all building evacuating strategies during emergencies as it offers a more« less
  5. Emergency response in indoor building evacuation is essential for effective rescue and safety management. First responders often lack the situational awareness capability to quickly assess the layout of a building upon initial entry. For occupants of the building, situational awareness becomes more important in cases of active shooter events or circumstances of fire and smoke. One of the challenges is to provide user-specific personalized evacuation routes in real-time. In multilevel building environments, the complexity of the architecture creates problems for both visual and mental representation of the 3D spaces. This paper presents three cutting edge Augmented Reality Instructional (ARI) modulesmore »that overcome the visual limitations associated with the traditional, static 2D methods of communicating evacuation plans for multilevel buildings. Using existing building features, the authors demonstrate how the three modules provide contextualized 3D visualizations that promote and support spatial knowledge acquisition and cognitive mapping thereby enhancing situational awareness. These ARI visualizations are developed for first responders and building occupants to help increase emergency preparedness and mitigate the evacuation related risks in multilevel building rescues and safety management. Specifically, the paper describes the design and implementation of the ARI modules and reports the results of the pilot studies conducted to evaluate their perceived usefulness, ease-of-use, and usability. The results suggest the desirability of further heuristic examination of three-dimensional situational awareness-based ARI application effectiveness in multilevel building evacuations.« less