The Department of Homeland Security has begun rolling out their virtual school shooter training program to staff working at schools across the US.
The program uses established gaming software to allow various agencies and school staff to play out active shooter scenarios. The program, EDGE or Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, was co-developed by the US Army and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Work began on the project back in 2013, and has reportedly cost $5.6 million to complete.
Described by the Department of Homeland Security as a “a multiplayer, scalable, online training environment for first responders… for a coordinated response to critical incidents.” EDGE uses the Unreal game engine developed by Epic Games. Countless games have used versions of the Unreal engine including BioShock, Mass Effect and a number of Tom Clancy dames including Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six.
Tamara Griffith, one of the lead engineers on the project at U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), told the Associated Press: “we can prevent a lot of these deaths, we can prepare people better, we can make this a safer environment if we can get it into the hands of the right people”
The program itself was developed with the assistance and input of members of various first response agencies and with information and lessons taken directly from actual incidents – including original dispatch tapes, interviews and eyewitness accounts.
In the school scenario ‘players’ will be able to play the role of the shooter, teachers or first responding police officers.In the role of teacher the player will be given a series of option to choose from to decide how best to protect their virtual students. To further immerse users of EDGE extensive character customisation and weapons/kit loadouts are available.
DHS began the roll out of the virtual training program back in June 2017, with first responders being the first to ‘play’ the program which involved a shooting at a hotel – video of this can be seen here. The new updated version of EDGE, which includes the school shooting scenario, will be generally available to schools in the Spring for free.
You can watch some footage from a number of perspectives in the AP footage below: