Wednesday, October 19, 2005

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HOMELAND SECURITY COMES TO SECOND LIFE

Originally published here.

Response

"Response" is the name of a private (but publicly accessible) island that happens to be owned by a top East Coast University. It's been built to resemble a small town in New England, not to evoke nostalgia, but to simulate and model emergency response behavior to very real dangers (fires, structure damage, and so on) in an online world. This morning, the leader of that university project (whose avatar is a cybernetic humanoid alien) will be giving a presentation on his work-- which happens to be funded by the United States Department ofHomeland Security. 

Educators and government/military officials have been exploring the national defense utility of online and virtual worlds for years, but now that they're doing so in a public setting in Second Life, it brings up all kinds of new challenges to my work as the embedded journalist. Up to now, "embedded" meant within the world of Second Life, reporting on the evolving community of Residents, mentioning the real world only insofar as it intersected with what they were creating and experiencing here. As with the New York convention last week, however, keeping those realities apart is becoming more and more difficult. This also means wondering when I'll need to drop the "embedded" part of my title altogether. Because not only do the worlds refuse to be kept apart, now that merger is being partially funded by US taxpayers, too.

Anyway, full announcement after the break. I won't actually be able to make this morning's event, myself, because as it turns out, I'm too busy hammering out the details on the Second Life visit by a guy who used to brief Donald Rumsfeld's staff and Senator John Kerry.

Second Life: A Platform for Homeland Security

The Synthetic Environments for Emergency Response Simulation (SEERS) project aims to provide cost effective mission rehearsal and virtual prototyping tools for the emergency response community. The project, which is funded by the U.S. Department ofHomeland Security, is part of the core research program of the Emergency Readiness and Response Research Center (ER3C) at Dartmouth College's Institute for Security Technology Studies.

Satchmo Prototype, a Dartmouth researcher, will give a presentation on the use of Second Life as a platform for creating synthetic environments forHomeland Security. He will discuss the pros and cons of the Second Life platform, present his work creating an environment for community emergency response teams and will lead a brainstorming session on other possible uses.

Day: Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Time: 10 am (gametime)
Location: Response (10,140)

For a teleport, IM Pietro Maracas [founder of the "RL Work in SL" group], Echinacea Wallaby, or Katherine Mullen.

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