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  • 02.17.11

The Secret Service Plays Video Games to Prepare for Trouble

Using 3-D models, game-based virtual environments, touch interfaces, and virtual disaster response scenarios, the Secret Service studies chemical, biological, and radiological attacks.

Secret Service touchscreen

The Secret Service is scrapping the tabletop model, dubbed Tiny Town, that it has used for security training scenarios over the past 40 years. Now, instead, the agency will practice on something called the Site Security Planning Tool, a kind of “Virtual Tiny Town” that uses 3-D models, game-based virtual environments, touch interfaces, and virtual disaster response scenarios to help Secret Service members prepare for the worst. In other words, the Secret Service is prepping for possible disasters with video games.

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Virtual Tiny Town is made up of three 55-inch touchscreen monitors, a computer running the Virtual Battle Space simulation game, and an attached projector and camera. In-game happenings can be displayed on large LED 3-D monitor for demonstrations and class teachings.

Secret Service touchscreen

So far, Virtual Tiny Town can help agents prepare for chemical, biological, and radiological attacks, as well as armed attacks and suicide bombers. In the future, the game will become even more complex, modeling health effects and crowd behaviors of a mass attack.

We just have one question: when will Virtual Tiny Town be released for the rest of us?

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Ariel Schwartz can be reached by email.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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