August 8, 2011

3D School Safety (Part II)

In the previous blog post we announced that SchoolSAFE is currently developing a 3D training simulation for school emergency preparedness. Two key questions surface: “Why use 3D to do this and how does all of this fit in with school safety?

By employing 3D video to train schools in crisis response, SchoolSAFE hopes to evoke a strong “training dividend” from the compelling nature of 3D content. John Simmons ( explains that “by viewing brief 3D scenes, trainees can experience a level of stress that will test their ability to manage the incident as they communicate with first responders” while a school threat unfolds in front of them. “3D has such volume,” he reminds us, and that’s why his organization believes this will succeed. Simmons points out that most school emergencies must be addressed by school staff who are 7 to 20 feet away from the action. This corresponds to the distance from the 3D camera where the 3D effect would be most pronounced. And, according to Simmons, synchronizing 3D viewing with live two-way radio drills provides an intense interactive experience not common in the world of entertainment or gaming.

In addition, using 3D offers some economic advantages. Simmons explains "in these tough economic times, this interactive 3D experience brings down the cost of drills and exercises, and offers more opportunities to schedule high-quality training so that all school personnel and students can benefit." These simulations can also help overcome the challenges of teacher turnover and new incoming classes by maintaining a consistent level of training for newcomers year after year.

The goal of this partnership, an effort notably inspired and led by Colorado State Senator Steve King,  is to bring this training to 30,000 school safety personnel and 800,000 students in Colorado, and ultimately to 2.1 million school safety personnel and over 56 million students nationwide.

So how will schools react? Steve Hoban the Director of Operations, Security & Environmental Services for the Boulder Valley School District, is optimistic. “The use of the 3D technology holds great potential in the world of school safety,” he predicts. 3D technology and training simulations represent “an opportunity to be more efficient with training, while still giving the recipient a more realistic feel for the crisis event being addressed,” he adds.

While attending the most recent meeting of Colorado’s School Safety Task Force, Jim Chabin, who is President of the International 3D Society, agreed:

" Using the immersive strengths of 3D media to better present, illuminate and stimulate educational subjects for students, teachers and leaders responsible for their academic success and safety, is an exciting opportunity. Once again, Colorado's community of committed educational stakeholders is leading the entire country in creating more exciting, and cost effective educational tools for this, and our next, generation of students. "

From a partnership perspective, school safety’s entry into the 3D world will bring a variety of players to the table—hardware, integration services, content development, and advertising. From an educational perspective, school safety could be a school district's first reason to invest in 3D classroom technology.

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