Virtual world to aid Secret Service in fighting bioterror

The Secret Service has recently upgraded its original tabletop "Tiny Town" model to a high-tech virtual and three-dimensional world that will help agents to prepare for threat scenarios like chemical, biological and radiological attacks.

The program, known as "Virtual Tiny Town," combines three-dimensional modeling and gaming technology and will prepare agents for security scenarios at stadiums, airports, urban locations, hotels and more. Other threats the game includes are suicide bombers and assaults, Government Computer News reports.

The technology, called the Site Security Planning Tool, should be completed and activated by the spring. It will be deployed at the service's Security and Incident Modeling Lab located at the James J. Rowley Training Center near Washington, D.C.

"(The Secret Service) sought to take these scenarios beyond a static environment to encompass the dynamic threat spectrum that exists today, while taking full advantage of the latest computer software technology,” the service said, according to the Government Computer News. “The agency’s Security and Incident Modeling Lab wanted to update Tiny Town and create a more relevant and flexible training tool.”

The system involves three kiosks, each with a 55-inch Perceptive Pixel touch screen that includes a projector, a camera and a computer running the Virtual Battlespace base simulation game. Up to four people can use each kiosk at one time.

Future developments will involve more nuanced scenarios like incorporating crowd behaviors and health effects.