DHS ponders foray into Second Life
The Homeland Security Department is considering setting up an outpost in Second Life, the virtual Sims-like world that has attracted 3 million registered users since 2003.This makes way more sense than anyone trying to make money or attract customers through Second Life. Because the numbers of actual users is a mirage.
DHS is just at the point of having informal discussions with one company about setting up a virtual island for its Safecom program, said Tony Frater, DHS’ deputy director of the Office for Interoperability and Compatibility. “But we haven’t taken the plunge,” he said.
Most public-safety agencies don’t have the resources to conduct “tabletop exercises,” which typically are simulations of first-responder events such as a pandemic or a biochemical attack, Frater said. One of these exercises usually requires public-safety workers to spend an entire weekend working at the event. And a tabletop exercise can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In Second Life, however, “we could build training exercises around chemical spills, hurricanes or tornadoes,” Frater said. “It’s fairly realistic. We could mock up things that happen in real life.” Public safety agencies could upload their standard operating procedures and get 30 or so avatars to conduct a simulation exercise.
“Just like the Internet, Second Life has both appropriate and inappropriate sections,” Frater said. “DHS will take appropriate steps to protect its information. We also talked about setting up meeting spaces that can be conducted in private,” which require invitations. “I think a lot of seminars would be in a closed setting,” he said.