Object-Oriented Documentation from Simulation for Civil Protection & Industrial Plant Accident directly Shared on the Web

Agostino G. Bruzzone
Department of Production Engineering, University of Genoa
via Opera Pia 15, 16145, Genova, Italy
agostino@itim.unige.it http://st.itim.unige.it

Paolo Perletto
Liophant Simulation Club
via XX Settembre 28/10A, 16121 Genova, Italy

Domenico Rivarolo
via XX Settembre 28/10A, 16121 Genova, Italy


In Civil Protection operations related to both natural emergencies and man-made industrial accidents, the possibility of sharing the data analysis is a key factor. In effect, the simulation can support this kind of problem very effectively providing scenario analyses as well as operative forecasts and becoming a useful training tool. Frequently, the process of distributing data among experts, authorities and operating personnel takes a long time and involves complex organizational structures and has a low impact of the results. This paper points out the potential of using Object-Oriented architecture for the documentation in order to share it directly on the web through HTML (free access with any browser, such as as Netscape(tm)).


The authors present research about the possibility of transferring simulation results on the web in an easy and immediate process. In previous work, it was possible to construct simulation environments for different kinds of problems (fires in an industrial environment, hazardous material fall-out, oil-spills and epidemic emergencies). [1][2][3][4] The problem regarding the emergency management simulation is strictly related to three major activities: "a priori" planning, training and operative support; Research in the simulation area normally focuses mainly on the first two aspects but, in effect, the operative support must be considered to integrate the model in advanced training equipment. Recently the introduction of new techniques and methodologies provided a great opportunity to improve the effect of training by using simulation also in a very difficult environment such as industrial plant accidents (i.e. virtual reality). [5] From another point of view, the data obtained from the simulation, to become effective, must be shared among the civil protection community. This approach could improve the efficiency through training and pre-planning and, at the same time, is a very powerful support during operations. [6] The authors propose to construct Object-Oriented architecture for the data provided by the emergency simulators (see fig.1) for the automated construction of web sites. Thus, it is immediately possible to develop an HTML dynamic structure with all the information obtained from the emergency scenario. For the future the authors expect to develop the simulation directly using Java-based environments, but on the basis of the present research it is evident that this simple approach for automated construction of web pages also has a great impact on sharing simulation data. [7]

The Problem

Today, emergency management requires the extensive use of Information Technology (IT). From this point of view the traditional military C4 architecture (Command, Control, Communications & Computers) is capable of supporting this kind of operation and is used extensively during major crisis situations. There are many problems in using these systems in civil protection: the cost, the complexity and the platform used are unacceptable for the distribution of such equipment, or derived systems, among the civil and industrial realities. This means that the use of this equipment is restricted to the military forces involved in emergency management procedures. [8] Another very important aspect concerns emergency modeling: many times the models developed from the military services do not attribute much importance to the aspects related to civil protection operations (industrial accidents, identification of the physically impaired & evacuation, peace-time constraints for evacuation procedures). For this reason the models capable of supporting this kind of problem, focusing on specific realities such as emergencies in industrial facilities, require extensive time to be developed and integrated in operational supports. [9] The authors are cooperating in the development of a shell to support operations to carry out all the civil protection procedures. The system proposed by the authors, called CIPROS (tm) (Civil Protection System & Simulation,fig.2) runs in the Windows(tm) environment on a Personal Computer. It is based on Object-Oriented modeling of all the entities on the scenario and includes a simulation model for predictive analysis on Hazardous Material Fallout, Explosions and Flooding (see fig.3). [10] The objects in the system are divided into major classes and sub-classes:
	Geographical Objects
		Urban Areas
	Territorial Human Objects
	People Objects
		People with Physical Impairments
		People over the reference Age
	Resource Objects
		Evacuation Center
The objects are defined on the map by references with other objects, or by the position (UTM or Latitude and Longitude). From a geometrical point of view, each object could be a single or a mix of graphical entities (lines, points, circles, squares, polygons, etc.). These objects are connected with raster images to enhance visualization in the areas where mapping is available. The data (which also includes the address of each inhabitant) are stored by using SQL Dbases and should be linked (based on periodical refreshing procedures) with the administrative centers of the town in the area under analysis In effect, the system is a GIS (Geographic information system) for Emergency Management; CIPROS can be used in an automated way to report all the classes of entities in risk conditions due to the emergency. The reports are designed to support planning and logistics support. [11] It is possible to define complex combinations of emergencies (see fig.4) and the system can track the civil protection procedures using automated checklists (see fig.5), evacuation personnel lists, etc.

The Object-Oriented Documentation

In order to distribute this information, and the samples about emergency scenarios, among the entire community of people interested in civil protection, the authors developed an object-oriented structure to translate the traditional documentation provided by CIPROS on web pages. At the present time this approach allows people operating with a traditional browser to navigate easily within the information, with the possibility of printing and storing information that is dynamically evolving. This approach has already been implemented by the authors in CIPROS - this is just the first step for evaluating the potential and the cost of developing this idea. The initial objective presented in this paper is to construct information structures that are available to people without any specific equipment and knowledge: just the capacity to use a browser link to internet (or intranet. In effect, the authors have already obtained some very interesting results operating with this simplified approach in training procedures. [12] We identified some different major classes of objects for documentation:
	Graphical Scenarios
		Simulation Scenarios
		Generic Mapping
	General Descriptions
Each class includes some major characteristics:
	Security Level (public, available for Civil Protection users, classified)
It is possible to automate the creation of the web pages related to an emergency procedure from a simulated scenario or to add new documents to the web pages just by describing the link to what other kind of information it must be related. The program is mainly implemented in C/C++ and Visual Basic(tm) (for the user interface). CIPROS constructs the HTML pages based on some user-defined structures, filling-up it with the information provided by the graphical interface and the Dbase queries.

Operative Description

The general architecture proposed is based on the creation of the emergency scenario by using the simulation model. The generation of all the reports is supported by the analysis systems included in CIPROS. The reports are related to the entities on the map and the system exports the data directly as HTML pages, linked to the web site in some specific position. The following images summarize emergency procedures (i.e. involving explosions and the flooding phenomena). All the information is dynamically related to the web pages to obtain a immediate description of the emergency, the status of the civil protection procedures and the reports about the area affected by the risk and the HTML information trasferred by OLE from the SQL DBase.


This proposal provided immediate access to a large amount of people without any specific training about simulation information, therefore it is still a passive approach for this kind of user considering the potential of this idea. Future research will also focus on providing remote users (on a Java-based environment) with the possibility of reloading the object simulated in the main headquarters directly in the local CIPROS databases for those who are trained to use these tools. In any case, it will also be critical to provide an interface to the Dbase by queries for those operating only from a generic platform with just a simple browser. In Italy, the average web speed is still quite slow, but it will be very interesting to integrate this idea with the previous research on Virtual Reality for Emergency Management, by using VMRL and to include more operative information and possible links (such as speech/sounds, animation, automated fax information link for activating/advising resources, etc.). This idea will allow many people and entities (such as small town administrations, local police, volunteers etc.) to remain up-to-date in terms of pre-planning for emergency, training and operative support. Of course, this last aspect will be possible just based on a much more effective web structure which at this moment is plagued by too many efficiency problems in order to be used as the main effective support during crisis situations.


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[7] Jansen B, Hamilton J, Pooch U. (1997) "Modeling and Simulating an Army Information Support Structure", Proc. of Military, Government and Aerospace Simulation, Atlanta
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[10] Bruzzone A.G., Giribone P., Mosca R. (1996) "Simulation of Hazardous Material Fallout for Emergency Management During Accidents", Simulation, vol. 66, no.6, June, 343-355
[11] Givens G., Camden R. (1994) "Technology to Provide "Anticipation of the Logistics Support Planning Process for Disaster Relief Operations", Proc. of Simulation for Emergency Management, San Diego
[12] Mosca R., Bruzzone A.G. & Costa S. (1996) "Simulation as a Support for Training Personnel in Security Procedures", Proc. of Military Government and Aerospace Simulation, New Orleans LA, April 8-11