EDGE screenshot (DHS)

2018 Government Innovation Awards

Fortnite for first responders

The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate used the roots of the popular video game “Fortnite” to create a realm where emergency responders can train together more efficiently.

Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment

Science and Technology Directorate, Department of Homeland Security

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While “Fortnite” uses the Unreal Engine platform to deliver “Battle Royales” to some 80 million monthly players, DHS’ Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) uses the engine to give federal, state, local and tribal first responders a virtual collaborative training environment.

The agency developed the technology in response to requests from the first responder community for a virtual space in which to practice. DHS partnered with the U.S. Army Research Lab and Cole Engineering to incorporate military gaming technology into the first responder platform.

The EDGE world consists of two environments. The first is a hotel where participants from law enforcement, firefighting, emergency medical services, dispatch and unified command can train together to handle active shooter situations, armed robberies, arson and hostage negotiations.

A second environment, still in the final stages of development, will be patterned after a school in West Orange, N.J., so that those responsible for safety — such as administrators, resource officers and campus security — can practice coordinating their activities.

Like “Fortnite” and other virtual multiplayer video games, EDGE doesn’t offer preprogrammed scenarios with predetermined outcomes. It’s up to the participants to determine their fate by putting agency-specific tactics and protocols to the test.

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