OMAHA – A river crests flood stage just upriver from a company’s critical infrastructure.
A large explosion blasts a floor of a food processing plant.
Nebraska Applied Research Institute (NARI) Program Manager Ben Bryan says these are emergencies that businesses need to be prepared for, though many aren’t. NARI can help.
“We can leverage expertise on the disaster response side and use that to help the corporate space,” Bryan said.
NARI’s work in modeling, simulation, and visualization will take advantage of two key resources in the University of Nebraska system: UNO’s Emergency Services Program, housed in the nationally ranked School of Public Administration, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Interprofessional Experiential Center for Enduring Learning (iEXCEL), a new medical training facility for state-of-the-art simulation.
Currently, iEXCEL and NARI leaders are collaborating on identifying and testing the very best hardware and software in virtual reality - cutting-edge tools that will be used for both medical training and disaster simulation.
“The talent involved is very complementary,” said Pam Boyers, Associate Vice Chancellor of clinical simulation, “For instance, we have the medical subject matter experts on taking care of casualties, as well as medical simulation expertise, and UNO’s College of Public Affairs and Community Service brings a range of expertise on emergency management.”
NARI Executive Director Bev Seay says sharing equipment will lead to significant cost savings and valuable cross-training opportunities.
“It’s important to have good training between responding agencies. How you recover a victim impacts their treatment and outcome,” Seay said.
The NARI team says both industry and government representatives have expressed interest in future modeling, simulation and visualization offerings.
“In a low-cost, low-risk, simulated environment, we can help them train to make better decisions, and also let them experience realistic scenarios for the things they’ll be faced with,” Bryan said.
NARI has already brought new virtual reality tools into UNO’s Emergency Management classes, getting students used to working with technology that those students may soon be using to assist NARI clients.
Emergency Services Instructor Tyler Davis says the virtual reality software, which was provided by Engineering and Computer Simulations (ECS), has tremendous value.
“Practitioners need to be using this type of software or this simulation process,” Davis said. “Private business, private industry desperately needs this.”
Through NARI, Nebraskans could get access to a virtual tool allowing large-scale disaster training.
Graduate students will be studying the need for a cyber range in Nebraska – essentially a large virtual network that enables exercises on a wide scale.
“Think about business continuity and infrastructure,” Seay said. “It’s a way to work together to make a city or state resilient.”