Interactive virtual world models for crisis preparedness - better than the real thing?
Success of crisis management largely depends on: (1) inherent resilience of the society; (2) preparedness level of the first responders; and (3) right "gut feeling" of crisis managers. "Learning by doing" to improve resilience and planning is difficult to do, especially for low-probability/high-impact events and for multi-hazards with cascading effects. Due to rarity of such events, many crisis managers, regional planers and other stakeholders have no first-hand experience in handling them. The best available alternative is learning by doing in a simulated crisis situation or during an exercise. The EU FP7 project CRISMA (www.crismaproject.eu) - "Modelling crisis management for improved action and preparedness" has developed a methodology and software framework for simulation-based decision support systems. CRISMA targeted use cases in the preparatory phase of crisis management: short and long-term planning, desktop training and assessment in field trainings. Application prototypes cover different risk (floods, snowstorms, earthquakes, forest fires, accidental pollutions, mass accidents) and illustrate how the CRISMA framework can be used in a relatively simple but integrated manner to develop fully fledged decision support applications [Dihé et al., 2013]. This paper illustrates how each of these cases has been realized, explains how this work can be used to advance different aspects of crisis management preparedness and discusses if and why learning in virtual worlds can be more effective than from real world events.