EU civil defense exercise for transnational cooperation in case of crisis with use of extended reality

In 2019, 1000 participants trained for an emergency requiring transnational assistance. Extended Reality played a significant role in the realistic representation of the disaster.

Key Benefits

Unprecedented extreme situations, train realistically as a team

Using extended reality environment, fully immersive learning experience

Creation of a digital twin in which an earthquake was simulated.

Better immersion in the exercise for all participants

More effective and efficient training

Teams are perfectly prepared for the Full Scale Exercise (FBX) on site

Challenge

The realistic representation of disasters

The interaction of response teams from different member states in connection with the UCPM (Union Civil Protection Mechanism) and communication with ERCC (Emergency Response Coordination Centre) rarely happens and is therefore difficult in times of crisis.

Furthermore, it is often not possible to realistically represent the inspection of mission-relevant disaster locations during training. USAR units can “only” exercise individual buildings and the overall scenario must be presented during the DBX (Discussion Based Exercise). This results in individual deviations in the presentation of the scenario.

"We now have the ability to realistically train the most extreme situations."

DI Dr. Helmut Aschbacher, MBA, Austrian Red Cross

Solution

The Digital Twin

The use of virtual reality was a fixed and important component for the project implementation. During the DBX, the commanders of the various teams were able to obtain a picture of the situation during a time-limited virtual helicopter flyover. Afterwards, all units reconvened and planned the tactical continuation of the mission with a clearer common situation picture. The immersive experience fostered realistic coordination among the special units and addressed questions such as: Where is the fresh water treatment area  best placed? Which structures are heavily impacted? Or where are other potential hazards to the response teams located, were answered. Furthermore, USAR teams surveyed collapsed buildings to determine their response.

At the DBX and FBX on site in Eisenerz, virtual reality also provided support for the social media teams. News reports from the scene, social media stories of the population, etc. put pressure on the communications teams of the local forces.

Outcome

Real-life training perfectly complemented with Extended Reality

Complex international processes such as the UCPM (Union Civil Protection Mechanism) must be practiced across national borders to ensure that they actually function in an emergency. With the digital twin of Eisenerz as an earthquake area, one gets a visually identical situation for all exercise participants and can thus approach the scenarios more immersively with the same idea. 

The theoretical knowledge of the mechanisms was tested and improved at the DBX and then tested again on site at the FBX.

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