SNE Requirements of Emergency Management Training

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Asli Soyler Akbas | December 17, 2012

Disaster management demonstrates three characteristics: ‘Uniqueness’, ‘Transient Nature’, and being a ‘Novel Process’ [1], making events and actions of the affected population unpredictable. This requires emergency response personnel to use their knowledge and skills gained from prior training. Capturing this in game-based training, through the use of synthetic natural environemtns (SNEs) has several requirements for success. Devitt and Borodzicz suggest that the team commanders and members should not only be trained on the task requirements but also on interwoven skills and attributes, including people and interpersonal skills and qualities [2]. For these reasons, the capability to attend training as a team, simultaneously connected to the same environment, allows participants to test their task communication skills and discover the areas that have room for improvement. Requirements leading a training experience towards success using SNEs are captured in three subsections: Emergency management training requirements, synthetic natural environment requirements, and standards and protocols.

A. Emergency Management Training Requirements

Emergency training simulation scenarios can be customized from macro to micro levels, to support a variety of tasks from high level team coordination to individual emergency task performance studies (CAE-EMT). It is very crucial to clearly identify the scope, boundaries and the requirements of a training exercise in order to keep the participants focused only on the key points during the entire training experience. For the national standardization of the existing commercial training techniques and solutions, the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] provides a five volume book that includes terminologies, methodologies and compliance guidelines to support exercise managers [3]. For each individual exercise, they require five phases of the exercise life-cycle, which are “Foundation”, “Design and Development”, “Conduct”, “Evaluation” and “Improvement Planning”. They also list the required actions and standards, such as the principles of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), associated to each phase, with examples and templates.

B. Synthetic Natural Environment Requirements

In their study Jain et al. suggested a SNE framework that can be used in EMT, which integrated simulation and gaming architecture, and suggested the requirements of such environments [4]. Some of the items that were listed include, but not limited to, the following:

  • The federation of simulation must be created specifically to support the scope and boundaries of the selected emergency scenario.
  • Heterogeneous federates of the simulation must be integrated according to the scenario to capture correlated behavior.
  • Events that require macro and micro level modeling must be synchronized.
  • Exercise manager must have the control over the scenario module execution.
  • SNEs must allow heterogeneous data server access.
  • Simulation federation execution must be managed.
  • Module components must be reusable.
  • SNEs must be able to support concurrent team exercises.

C. Standards and Protocols

Today two of the most commonly used simulation communications infrastructures are High Level Architecture (HLA) and Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS). HLA is a standard, originally initiated by the DoD, for implementing distributed simulation [5]. HLA defines federates and federation as the individual simulations and set of individual simulations combined to achieve a specific objective, respectively. It is composed of three major parts; the first part is a set of rules for federates and federations, which define relationships among federating compliant simulations. Second part is called Run Time Infrastructure (RTI), which is a software system, describing how the compliant simulations interact during operation. Finally, the last part is called the Object Model Template (OMT), which describes the format of the information shared, among federates [6]. HLA specifications are defined in the IEEE 1516-2010 series of standards. They are the subject to the NATO standardization agreement (STANAG 4603) for modeling and simulation and are maintained by the Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization (SISO).

DIS is a standard networking protocol for exchanging information among various simulation applications. DIS uses Protocol Data Units (PDU) to provide inter-node communication. DIS is defined under the IEEE Standard 1278.1-1995, and it is expanded with an addendum, IEEE 1278.1a-1998. Rapidly changing DIS values and enumerations cannot be included in this IEEE standard. Therefore, they are maintained by the SISO in the document called Enumeration and Bit Encoded Values for Use with Protocols for DIS Applications [7].

One of the requirements for interoperability is the reliability when exchanging data. When using the HLA-RTI, each federate actively joins and resigns from the federation, by informing the other federates via the RTI. RTI eliminates the need for heart-beat PDUs used in DIS. However, the simplicity of DIS allows all systems to receive information pertaining to one another. RTI increases complexity and there are a number of RTI implementations that one could use, which may result in interoperability problems between two different RTI vendors. The evolved IEEE 1516 standard for HLA that was recently approved includes a protocol which will allow interoperability between two vendors without recompiling federate source code or re-linking federate object code [5].


1. Moe, T. L., Gehbauer, F., Senitz, S., & Mueller, M. (2007). Balanced scorecard for natural disaster management projects. Disaster Prevention and Management, 16(5), 785-806.
2. Devitt, K. R., & Borodzicz, E. P. (2008). Interwoven leadership: The missing link in multi-agency major incident response. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 16(4), 208-216.
3. Homeland Security. (2007, February). Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program – Vol I. Retrieved August 04, 2012 from HSEEP.
4. Jain, S., & McLean, C. R. (2005). Integrated simulation and gaming architecture for incident management training. Proceedings of the 37th conference on Winter simulation.
5. IEEE-HLA. (2012). 1516 WG – HLA Evolved Working Group – Standards – IEEE 1516-2010. Retrieved August 5, 2012, from IEEE Standards Association.
6. Jain, S., & McLean, C. R. (2006). An Integrated gaming and simulation architecture for incident management training. U.S. Department of Commerce. Washington, DC: National Institute of Standards and Technology.
7. IEEE-DIS. (2012). DIS WG – Working Group for Distributed Interactive Simulation. Retrieved August 10, 2012, from IEEE Standards Association.

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