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Advancements in Active Shooter Simulations

November 2012

Advancements in Active Shooter Simulations
E-SIM advanced simulation of an active-shooter attack.

Active shooter attacks have become an increasing problem in modern America, leaving an environment of fear and chaos in their wake. The events that occurred during attacks such as those in Colorado, Fort Hood and Virginia Tech defied prediction.  However, recent advances in modeling and simulation allow us to analytically evaluate such scenarios in advance, resulting in more effective planning, mitigation, and training. As part of the company’s on-going initiatives in security and human safety, ARA has developed a highly specialized simulation system, E-SIM, which provides state of the art agent-based modeling that allows for advanced analysis of human response when physically confronted with these types of events.  As part of this effort, ARA’s Southern Division has developed a prototype version of E-SIM that models specific rules of engagement for active shooter response.

When planning for active shooter events, various traditional approaches may be used, many of which are time intensive and based heavily on historic precedence.  Unfortunately, these approaches are often limited in the number and variety of scenarios that can realistically be evaluated.  However, computer simulations have advanced in speed, fidelity, and realism to provide additional insight that is often left wanting in more traditional methods of evaluation, as detailed evaluation of virtually limitless scenario options are now possible.

To realistically evaluate a potential real-world incident, multiple and often complex parameters, and their corresponding interactions, must be considered. Such parameters include the physical environment, behavior of each autonomous agent in that environment, and disruption of that environment due to catastrophic events, such as an active shooter (or shooters).  Significant detail and fidelity can be incorporated into the model, including attributes of the aggressors, bystanders, and systems or processes, as well as attributes of the physical surroundings.  Routine habits of people and the effect of personal interaction including data transfer or panic can be modeled.  Additionally, numerous combinations of parameters and scenarios can be rapidly analyzed to evaluate the responses of first responders and law enforcement, and to evaluate the broader-scale effects from these scenarios such as casualty estimation to assess requirements for local hospital capability and capacity.

The capability to model details of active shooter incidents beforehand can allow for significant improvements in the quality of simulation of scenarios, as well as permit the rapid evaluation of numerous varying scenarios.  These simulations, and the results observed, can be used to improve training and planning for response to such events in the future.