Real-Time Data Visualisation in Collaborative Virtual Environments for Emergency Management
A Collaborative Virtual Environment (CVE) is a shared virtual environment used for collaboration and interaction of many participants that may be spread over large distances. Although CVE has been widely used in emergency management, especially for education, training and assessment, there are some drawbacks and challenges in existing CVEs: 1. The authenticity of emergency simulation in CVE still needs improvement. 2. Delivery of up-to-date information cannot be guaranteed in currently available CVE. 3. The problems with usability of CVE are common, including the user collaboration and scenario creation. A review of the current literature reveals that, until now, these problems have not been well addressed.
This thesis focuses on the design and implementation of a prototype system that facilitates emergency management via a Collaborative Virtual Environment using real-time spatial information. The system, Spatial Information Exploration and Visualisation Environment – Virtual Training System or SIEVE-VTS, was developed based on a game engine. It automatically integrates real-time data from multiple online sources, then models and simulates emergency incident scenarios using such data.
The prototype system provides the capability of simulating dynamic scenarios in the virtual environment, extends the traditional technique of real-time data collection from 2D maps to the 3D virtual environment, manipulates spatial information efficiently and effectively, and enhances collaboration and communication between users. It improves the processes and outcomes of emergency management by increasing engagement and supporting decision making of potential users, including first responders, emergency managers and other stakeholders.