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Open Access Megacity: A Collaborative Virtual Reality Environment for Emergency Response, Training, and Decision Making

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The simulation of human behavior with avatars and agents in virtual reality (VR) has led to an explosion of training and educational research. The use of avatars (user-controlled characters) or agents (computer-controlled characters) may influence the engagements of the user experience for emergency response, and training in emergency scenarios. Our proposed collaborative VR megacity environment offers flexibility to run multiple scenarios and evacuation drills for disaster preparedness and response. Modeling such an environment is very important because in the real-time emergencies we experience in day-to-day life, there is a need for preparation to extreme events. These emergencies could be the result of fire, smoke, gunman threat, or a bomb blast in a city block. The collaborative virtual environment (CVE) can act as a platform for training and decision making for SWAT teams, fire responders, and traffic clearance personnel. The novelty of our work lies in modeling behaviors (hostile, non-hostile, selfish, leader-following) for computer-controlled agents so that they can interact with user-controlled agents in a CVE. We have used game creation as a metaphor for creating an experimental setup to study human behavior in a megacity for emergency response, decision-making strategies, and what-if scenarios. Our proposed collaborative VR environment includes both immersive and non-immersive environments. The participant can enter the CVE setup on the cloud and participate in the emergency evacuation drill, which leads to considerable cost advantages over large-scale, real-life exercises. We present two ways for controlling crowd behavior. The first defines rules for agents, and the second provides controls to the users as avatars to navigate in the VR environment as autonomous agents. Our contribution lies in our approach to combine these two approaches of behavior to perform virtual drills for emergency response and decision making.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 29, 2017

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  • For more than 30 years, the Electronic Imaging Symposium has been serving those in the broad community - from academia and industry - who work on imaging science and digital technologies. The breadth of the Symposium covers the entire imaging science ecosystem, from capture (sensors, camera) through image processing (image quality, color and appearance) to how we and our surrogate machines see and interpret images. Applications covered include augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, machine vision, data analysis, digital and mobile photography, security, virtual reality, and human vision. IS&T began sole sponsorship of the meeting in 2016. All papers presented at EIs 20+ conferences are open access.

    Please note: For purposes of its Digital Library content, IS&T defines Open Access as papers that will be downloadable in their entirety for free in perpetuity. Copyright restrictions on papers vary; see individual paper for details.

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