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Secret Service Replacing Scale Models With Game-Based Training
Secret Service Replacing Scale Models With Game-Based Training
January 25, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

January 25, 2011 | By Kyle Orland
More: Console/PC

The U.S. Secret Service is upgrading its current, tabletop-based training models with a set of new, interactive training kiosks, set to be rolled out this spring.

The Site Security Planning Tool will consist of three kiosks at the Secret Service's Washington training center, each with a 55-inch stereoscopic touch-screen display and projectors and cameras to create a limited virtual reality environment, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Bohemia Interactive's underlying Virtual Battlespace simulation will allow trainees to evaluate simulated threats including armed assaults and suicide bombings from both a third-person overhead view and a first-person virtual walkthrough perspective. The same basic simulation software has been used by the UK's ministry of defense since 2007.

In the future, funders at the DHS hope the training program will be able to account for bystander health effects from chemical, radiological or biological attacks, and to account for a wider range of potential attacks.

Once the kiosks are deployed this Spring, they will largely replace "Tiny Town," a series of scale models of various potential incident locations that's been used by the government protection agency for over 40 years.

In recent years, game-based training programs have been implemented by a variety of organizations, from hospitals to technology firms and hotels.

In 2009, the U.S. Army paid $17.7 million to upgrade its DARWARS Ambush training game with a new Game After Ambush training program.

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Tim Carter
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That's a shame.

The tabletop experience depends on visualization, imagination and improvisation. Whereas the high-fidelity 3D experience robs the user of their need to visualize the imagery in their mind's eye.

Tore Slinning
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The wargamer nerd in me disapproves.

Scott Galloway
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battle tank was used to create a virtual reality training sim for the army back in the early 80's and they are just now getting around to using it to train the secret service? so sad.

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Or they could just play some Warhammer 40k.

But hey, I'm sure their fruit killing skills are remarkable.

Sean Danielson
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The Secret Service, like the White House, have been stuck in the 1980's until Obama came to office -- then they threw out their old Windows '95 computers and replaced them with Macs.

Virtual Battlespace by Bohemia Interactive is based on the same technology as those of ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead, so it's not surprising that a game with such high scripting capability has been selected as the training suite for the Secret Service.

I've had scenarios where I had to rescue Muslim hostages from a mosque that was being held by terrorists, which was an interesting scenario so to speak - as well as having to fly aircraft in combat zones.