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Final Report Summary - INDIGO (Innovative Training & Decision Support for Emergency operations)

Executive Summary:

Although, in many ways, modern European society has never been safer, a number of natural and man-made disasters still strike. These include storms, fires, flooding, industrial accidents and terrorist attacks.

Urban and industrial areas are most vulnerable when disaster strikes owing to a combination of dense populations, main infrastructures and complex built-up environments. This makes designing effective emergency plans, training security organisations and managing crises particularly challenging.

Building on the success of an earlier EU-funded research project, 'Innovative training and decision support for emergency operations' (INDIGO) sought to revolutionise the way in which cross-border crises and threats are handled.

INDIGO's solution enables multiple operationals from different organisations, crisis managers as well as first responders to exercise simultaneously in the real site, share information, tactical intelligence and mine horizontal and vertical relations, between different command centres and field units.

The solution includes a tool for training personnel, planning operations and facilitating joint crisis management across organisations and nations. Based upon the analysis of various stakeholders' detailed needs , the project researched, developed, tested and validated a prototype version of the system.

INDIGO enhances the capacity of crisis responders to understand real or simulated incidents they are facing and respond, thanks to improved communication channels and anticipated scenarios based on early-warning signals. The system has proven so effective that the consortium is already in talks to commercialise it. INDIGO can also be adapted and added to by third parties.

The INDIGO project aims to research, develop and validate an innovative system integrating the latest advances in Virtual Reality and Simulation in order to homogenize and enhance both the operational preparedness and the management of an actual complex crisis. The INDIGO system enables:

 The 3D interactive and realistic visualization of the complete crisis environment, including data coming from the field, simulation results, and building interiors;
 The creation and simulation of different evolving scenarios for planning, training, and anticipating future states and impending developments during operations, and the analysis of events after the crisis;
 The simultaneous training of decision makers, crisis managers as well as first responders that will be influenced by the simulated scenario and that will reciprocally influence its evolution;
 The involvement of multiple participants, thanks to its distributed architecture, while offering a unique pictorial way of sharing and communicating complex knowledge across organizational boundaries.

In addition, INDIGO proposes a European emergency symbology reference for 2D/3D maps. This will fill an important gap by offering a common visual reference that can be used across Europe to facilitate the immediate understanding of the situation, thus improving decision making across organizational boundaries. The definition of the functional specifications of the system has been driven by the analysis of the needs of real end-users participating in the project as partners or involved in the User Group. These organizations have tested and validated the outcomes of the project with two real-world practical scenarios. More information at

Project Context and Objectives:

Modern societies have experienced a spate of catastrophic events in recent years. Terrorist attacks (London, Madrid, Mumbai), factory explosions (Enschede, Toulouse), floods and storms (Louisiana) – these are but a few examples of crises and disasters that threaten the security, prosperity and well being of citizens. Urbanised areas are especially vulnerable to the onset of crises and disasters. The combination of dense population concentrations (35M in Tokyo, 10M in Paris) and complex architectural environments makes it very hard to anticipate, prepare for and manage the impact of natural, industrial or man-made incidents. The recent crises have demonstrated the inherent difficulties that urban safety and crisis managers face when a large-scale disaster threatens an urban environment. In this ever-changing environment, it is hard to design proper emergency plans, to train security organisations and effectively handle crisis management procedures.

Therefore, it is essential for public authorities to better plan and train organisations and crisis managers and to provide relevant systems for complex crisis management across organisational and geographic boundaries. This is no easy task, as research has shown. New approaches and technologies should therefore be researched and developed to serve these critical needs.

Based on both the experience and results of the CRIMSON (Crisis Management Simulation) project, funded by the European Commission in the frame of the Preparatory Action for Security Research, and drawing on the consortium’s extensive expertise in crisis management, the INDIGO consortium has identified a strong need for an innovative and unified approach extending and broadening the advances of CRIMSON to the entire security field in order to enhance planning, training and crisis management operations. Indeed, CRIMSON produced a critical breakthrough by enabling the simulation of urban crises for the purpose of enhancing operational preparedness. However, this system is limited to the training of crisis managers, in outdoor environments, without connection to physical simulation or the possibility to involve field staff forces.

INDIGO aims to provide a revolutionary solution that will enable inter-organisational preparation and response to transboundary crises and disasters, in any environment. INDIGO will allow for inter-organisational exercising, information sharing and analysis – mining both horizontal and vertical relations. With regard to the latter, the relation between central command centres and field units is traditionally underdeveloped, both before and during crises. First responders are insufficiently involved in large-scale strategic exercises because these are very complex and expensive to organise and manage.

The proposed system proves an essential and integrated tool for training personnel, planning operations, and facilitating crisis management and co-operation across organisations and nations. It enables users to:

 Display and manipulate an operational representation of the situation that is as complete and as easy to understand as possible, for indoor and outdoor situations;
 Simulate different evolving scenarios for planning, training, and anticipating future states and impending developments during operations, and analyse events after the crisis;
 Involve first responders and emergency field units in simulated exercises;
 Enhance the work across organisational boundaries and decision levels.

Since the project began, the consortium has met with uses (both within and outside of the user group) to determine the requirements of the system. Based on those requirements and the vision of the partners, specifications were designed and development on the system has begun. Moreover, three major project milestones have proven the efficiency and usefulness of the INDIGO system, respectively the Beta validation, the Final validation and the Final Dissemination event. End users within and outside the user group benefited from these training sessions based on tailored scenarios. Thanks to the fruitful experiences which showed the work and integration achieved, commercial discussions are already in progress.

Project Results:

The INDIGO project's main objective is to develop a novel system to improve crisis management and crisis training. This objective has been reached and the system has proven its efficiency through three major validation milestones, where in average 20 consortium external end users have effectively achieved operational training with mainly the INDIGO system. Much effort has been put on the integration of all the scientific and technological results into a single system. This has been particularly appreciated by end users as there is a unique and coherent interaction with the system.

Nevertheless, the system can be subdivided into 10 technological elements, namely:

1. The INDIGO Framework;
2. The INDIGO Network;
3. The INDIGO Desktop Tool;
4. The INDIGO Field Mobile;
5. The INDIGO Advanced Scenario Creation Tool;
6. The INDIGO Map Table;
7. The INDIGO Whiteboard;
8. The INDIGO TransporTable;
9. The INDIGO 3DNSite Generator and Viewer;
10. The INDIGO European Emergency Symbol Set.

Each of these technological elements are described in the subsections below.

3.1 The INDIGO Framework
The INDIGO SDK is a C++ SDK which enables developers to customize the INDIGO crisis management and training application. This framework includes:

• the visualization and interactive edition of a synchronized Common Operational Picture made of a 2D/3D maps and a dashboard, with information notification and filtering capabilities, which allow crisis managers to exchange main crisis information in a centralized system with a clear view of the current situation in a world scale 3D environment;
• an integrated audio and video conferencing system which enables an easy communication with distant sites;
• a walky-talky communication mechanism with multiple communication channels, which replicates the usual mean of audio communication in crisis management, with log features;
• an integrated messages system which enables one to exchange textual information without opening external messaging applications;
• a media news component, which enables trainers to make use of journalism solicitation to crisis responders, as they have to frequently conduct press conferences;
• a 3DNSite controller mechanism, which allows users to operate the 3DNSite application directly within the INDIGO 2D Maps component, thus centralizing all the visualization control in the same window;
• a Live Virtual Constructive client component which enables trainees to receive situational awareness information;
• scenario and exercise creation means, which enables trainers to create the necessary scenario elements to conduct an exercise and the situation;
• the INDIGO European Emergency Symbology, which enables EU crisis managers to communicate Maps information in a common language.

Through a simple and clear API, all of these components can be controlled and customized. This framework is an excellent basis for the creation of tailored crisis management applications. As an example, the INDIGO Desktop Tool, Map Table, Whiteboard, Field Mobile and Advanced Scenario Creation Tool are build upon this framework, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The INDIGO components and main user interface of the Framework.

3.2 The INDIGO Network

The INDIGO Network enables multiple trainees and trainers to simply share information and communicate via an audio and video conferencing system. This is made available through reliable web services and all Common Operational Picture information are stored in a cloud database. This system has been made flexible enough to deploy either in a local area network or in world area network. Moreover, to enable communication in a crisis situation when almost no network is available, many optimizations have been applied which allow users to exchange information in network critical situations. The INDIGO Network architecture is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. The INDIGO Network architecture.

3.3 The INDIGO Desktop Tool

The INDIGO Desktop tool is a customized version of the INDIGO Framework tailored for computer and laptop needs. Focus has been made on mouse and keyboard interactions where dedicated user interfaces allow an intuitive manipulation of the entire application. This tool is a perfect solution for trainers to create the necessary scenario elements and to observe the trainees performance. This tool is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. The INDIGO Desktop Tool.

3.4 The INDIGO Field Mobile

The INDIGO Field Mobile is a lightweight immersive device which enables operationals in a crisis response situation to share with and receive information from other crisis responders. Moreover, in a training environment, this device creates a distant connection between the trainers and the trainees, for example to communicate the current state of the exercise. This enables trainers to stay at a fixed position while being able to monitor and control more trainees. In addition, this Field Mobile coupled with the Advanced Scenario Creation Tool enables trainees to receive contextual information with respect of their current state (e.g. location) predefined by the trainer in a Live Virtual Constructive approach. For example, trainees will be able to see the incident they are supposed to face, or acknowledge their current life status being affected by a nearby catastrophe. This tool is meant for first responders who could benefit from the smaller form factor and the longer battery life provided by a handheld device, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. The INDIGO Field Mobile in action.

3.5 The INDIGO Advanced Scenario Creation Tool

The INDIGO Advanced Scenario Creation Tool enables trainers to create a simulated scenario environment which evolve through time with respect of the trainees actions. The simulation automatically sends information to the trainees in a Live-Virtual Constructing manner, relieving the trainer from tedious tasks and letting him focus on the trainees' performance. Trainees in the field receive situational context information prepared by the trainer that is generated with respect of their current situation. Examples are situational context videos and virtual sensors. Disasters implying crisis management or training on the field often cover large geographical areas. However, simulated 3D environments are often restricted to relatively small and closed areas because of technical difficulties. A technological breakthrough has been made by bringing a small scale scenario editor to a world scale Live-Virtual-Constructive scenario approach, enabling world-wide scaled scenario with contextual information sent to crisis trainees on the field thanks to their connection to the INDIGO network with the INDIGO Field Mobile device. Visual immersive information is generated with respect to the current crisis status and is sent to trainees. Moreover, a virtual sensor measure system enables trainers to create virtual dangerous zones evolving over time. Trainees are then able to make use of a virtual sensor. Depending on their location, which can be real or teleported, the sensor will measure and display different values. A screenshot of the definition of an major explosion in a building in the Advanced Scenario Creation Tool is shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. The INDIGO Advanced Scenario Creation Tool.

3.6 The INDIGO Map Table

The INDIGO Map Table device is an innovative interactive display meant to visualise and interact with the INDIGO Common Operational Picture in a natural, simple and efficient manner. During specific validation tests, this map device has been evaluated by experts in the field. Regarding the collaborative visualisation and interaction, end-users are really satisfied with the table. Indeed the Table has been designed to ensure a comfortable use adapted to a meeting and to address easily several user profiles. Ergonomic studies have initially taken a large part of the design of this solution. A direct interaction channel allows users to interact intuitively with 2D and 3D contents and tangible interaction channels allow users to interact thanks to traditional tools. This Map Table is shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6. The INDIGO Map Table.

3.7 The INDIGO Whiteboard

Like the INDIGO Map Table, the INDIGO Whiteboard device is an innovative interactive display meant to visualise and interact with the INDIGO Common Operational Picture in a natural, simple and efficient manner. This device aims strategic and tactical levels of crisis management where actors of different professional backgrounds needs to collaborate around a Common Operational Picture. Because no assumptions about the user's computer skills can be made, having an intuitive device that doesn’t replace their work habits but take advantage of them is essential. To do so, the standard blackboards interactions have been duplicated, such as the vertical standing and the writing with a pen, namely its digital version, a stylus, as shown in Figure 7.

3.8 The INDIGO TransporTable

To enable easy transport of a multi-touch hardware, a mobile multi-touch system has been produced as a solution for short training session or short commercial presentation, as shown in Figure 8. Based on the INDIGO Framework, this device is an interactive display meant to visualise and interact with the INDIGO Common Operational Picture in a natural, simple and efficient manner. This device respects mobile constraints. It weighs less than 20 kg, is package in a rugged case is deployable for an operational situation in a few minutes.

3.9 The 3DNSite Generator and Viewer

The 3DNSITE system is a novel framework which enables the visualization of photos from the field aligned on a 3D environment. This is achieved thanks to Innovative algorithms which enables the 3DNSite generator to align the collection of sparse photos with a 3D acquisition of the site. This aligned collection is then visualized thanks to the novel 3DNSite Viewer which offers a intuitive and multitouch navigation within this sparse database, as shown in . This research has been published in international conferences and workshops and is available as an open source platform (

3.10 The INDIGO European Emergency Symbol Set

The INDIGO European Emergency Symbol Set enables EU crisis managers to communicate Maps information in a common EU language. Given the fact that most civil security services and industrials use specific symbols, this is often a cross-organisation barrier when collaboration is required. A world wide state of the art on symbols and systems has lead to the development of this European Emergency Symbol Set which is made freely available on the INDIGO website, as well as the design sources, in the downloads/symbology menu.

Potential Impact:

The INDIGO project results are a clear answer to the needs identified through previous projects such as CRIMSON for example, but also through the INDIGO end user requirements and through the three full scale exercises carried out within the project agenda.

The developed system targets two main markets shares, namely crisis training and crisis management. DIGINEXT, in collaboration with CRISISPLAN and ISA, are finalizing discussions of a crisis management and training solution and services build on top of INDIGO. They plan to exploit the INDIGO framework in a similar fashion than the previous CRIMSON project, whose technology was acquired by ESA, DGA, IRSN, and EADS. Already, two real world use cases occurred during the last months of the project demonstrate the potential impact of the project results, as described in the following subsections.

4.1 Operational - La Haye

Following the successful Final Dissemination Event, the police of the Netherlands decided to evaluate the INDIGO "Operational" system through a pilot operational event, namely the Veteran's day, in the end of June 2013. During this national memorial, the police will make use of the INDIGO system to monitor and report information between the mobile and the stationary control centre, in parallel of their actual monitor system. Stakes are quite high with reliable marketing outcome. The police will make use of the TransporTable, the Whiteboard, the Field Mobile and the European Emergency Symbol Set during this event.

4.2 Training - French Firefighters

On-going discussions with French Fighters are leading to two uses of the system, one operational, as for the police of La Haye, but also for training purposes within their organisation and international cross-organisation training and methodology exchanging. This international training cooperation will probably happen take place in the summer 2013.

List of Websites:


Simulation & Virtual Reality Division

5 Rue Brindejonc des Moulinais
BP 15872
31506 Toulouse Cedex 5

Tel.: +33 56117 6642
Fax: +33 56117 6578

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