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First responders of all disciplines will now be able to train together thanks to a new virtual training platform made available by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL). The Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) training platform was officially launched recently and is available to first responders throughout the US at no cost. EDGE is a multiplayer, scalable, online environment that trains responders for a coordinated response to active shooter incidents.
Built on the Unreal gaming engine, which powers popular interactive video games, EDGE allows responders to collaboratively role-play complex scenarios in a virtual environment, improving coordination and communication while mitigating injuries and loss of lives. According to newswise.com, S&T’s First Responders Group (FRG) developed the technology with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Simulation and Training Technology Center and Cole Engineering Services, Inc.
“In this day and age, it’s essential that responders have every tool at their disposal to prepare for critical incidents,” said William N. Bryan, DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “When decisions must be made in a matter of seconds, every bit of training helps to save civilian and responder lives. EDGE harnesses the power of cutting-edge gaming and defense technology to make training accessible, engaging, and affordable to all responders.”
Milt Nenneman, EDGE program manager for S&T’s First Responders Group said: “Any responder with Internet access and a computer can now use the platform for free”.
“EDGE was developed by ARL in conjunction with the Training and Doctrine Command, as a platform that could be shared across all government organizations and agencies,” explains Tami Griffith, engineer at ARL-Orlando. “Our relationship with DHS shows we’ve not only met those goals but it has allowed us to stimulate one another’s work, sometimes leapfrogging each other to meet objectives as they unfold”.
Cole Engineering will now distribute EDGE to all interested response agencies and provide related technical support. “For me, working with Homeland Security to better prepare first-responders for a common active shooter, school shooting, and complex coordinated attack incidences has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career,” Griffith added.