SimsUshare Fire Simulator Back-to-Basics: An Overview
Check out this tutorial covering the most basic features of SimsUshare to help you get up and running with your own fire simulations quickly and easily.
Welcome all, my name’s Jonathan Kaye. We’re gonna dive right into really showing about a high-level view of the various components of SimsUshare, and that’s why we’ve called it Back to Basics. We’ve had a couple of webinars in the past few months that have gotten into specific topics of online training, states, things that are more elaborate. It’s time to kind of pull back and look at where we’ve come and where someone who’s just getting involved in the program can start.
So of course I speak kind of on behalf of myself, Steve Ward, Danielle Spivak, Ryan Peterson, our whole team here. Hopefully some of you have had a chance to talk with them on customer support, sales support, anything that we can help you with, we’re more than happy to do.
Core SimsUshare Mission
We started SimsUshare in 2012 after working on another, more elaborate simulation program called CommandSim. What we did is, we went back to the drawing board and we said, “what really should be the core mission of SimsUshare?”
And ultimately what we saw, after making a more elaborate, more feature-rich, more expensive program, is there wasn’t really a program on the market where it was easy to take a picture and set it on fire. That’s it. We saw there was a huge need across the country––across the world, even––for just a basic ability. And so we wanted to make it really, really simple both to take a picture and set it on fire, and also make it easy to share the sims. And that’s why we came up with the name SimsUshare.
Customer Service Pledge
So, what we also feel like as a company––it’s not just having a product where it’s easy to use and easy to share––but we also have to support it with really the best customer service available. And so our pledge is to be available to help you when you need that kind of assistance.
So the way that we’ve pledged to help you when you need it is first be able to get you onboarded quickly. We have quick start guides, we have topical videos, printable documentation, online classes, we have some free Sims to get you started, a quarterly newsletter––hope you’ve checked it out we’re approaching our first year now––it’s called Take Command. Of course, phone and web support. If you have any issues, just call us up. We’ll set up web meetings––all part of our customer and sales support. All the help is located on our help page and here’s the link––simsushare.com/tutorials-and-help. So, definitely check it out because that’s where you’re going to find all of this help information and we’ll direct you to a lot of it after we’ve talked to you on the phone to help you solve issues that you may have with using the program and getting the most value from it.
So when you talk about, looking at a high-level, the fundamental decisions that we make are: what are we going to make, and then how are we going to show it in terms of simulations? I’m going to kind of cruise through here. Of course what to make depends on what fire problem you’re trying to illustrate. But that’s so critical to have a good grasp of what that fire problem is. Everything else can fall into place. Meanwhile, if you just decide to go and build a simulation and you don’t have a good fire problem or something you’re illustrating, all the technology in the world is not going to really make it any effective training.
So we’re going to go through this a little bit later as a demonstration, but whether it’s a single photo with a hazard, a walkaround, some time evolving condition––if someone sits there and doesn’t do anything, fire’s going to keep burning––or some sort of evolving condition based on a choice that they choose to implement this strategy or, tactic these are all kinds of things that you’re going to build into your simulations.
Now, as you add more of these things in it becomes progressively more complex and time-consuming to build. So you don’t have to say we need the max for every situation. This is just to kind of give you an overall categorization of the types of simulations that you’ll be building. Walkaround with multiple conditions: this is where decisions or evolutions happen and we want to take them through more than just a couple minutes on the incident, on the fireground. And then more complex geographies––maybe you want to walk through buildings or maybe it’s wildland where it’s not just like a walk around of an A, B, C, D. So all these things are possible but you really want to decide what is it that you want to make and what is it that you’re going to make.
Then the next step is going to be, okay, if I’m going to make this––thinking about this still before you build it––how am I going to show it? Well typically there’s two ways, either instructor-led or self-run. And even instructor-led, is it going to be one-on-one? Is it going to be one-to-many? Are you going to share the simulation with a group––just have everyone sort of crowd around your device––or you going to project it on the screen? Or now with SimsUshare Command Training Center, the CTC, where you can coordinate multiple screens online. So each person can be in their home, office, station, wherever, and you can be controlling it from another computer or device anywhere else pretty much in the world.
So when you make your simulations, you want to keep in mind that you can make them for multiple purposes, but you want to try and think about what are going to be the uses up front. So if you can think about, when you’re making your situation, how you’re going to be wanting to use it, so that’s going to also help you determine how extensive you have to make the simulation. The more extensive you make it, if it’s not actually being used in your exercise, you know, you just kind of wasted time. So obviously like anything, preparation is critical.
Defining Purposes and Problems
And so what we did is to try and help you get ideas of purposes and problems, we’ve created this simulation enhanced handbook for using simulations to enhance training, which is available off of our help page. And training typically, we sort of see that it falls into one of about five categories. Company level training––this is kind of your one-on-one or small group. Officer development, whether that’s going to be a company officer or executive officer. Promotional process, SOP/SOG verification, and then we put continuing education which is kind of a catch-all for things that you’re teaching that may not fit into the other specific categories. So definitely check out this handbook, it’ll kind of go through some ideas, it’ll go through some of the benefits, and even help you get started with what you want to achieve––defining what you want to achieve and what you want to build with simulations.
What to Make
So now we’re going to get into a talk about what to make. So I’m going to now actually go through examples so you can see what it would be like to do kind of various levels of simulations. So, single photo with hazard, walkaround, et cetera.
Simulation Example #1: Single Picture with Single Hazard
Let’s go into the program here. I’m opening SimsUshare. Go to full screen. Now let’s go and I’m going to go to edit here so we can actually see. Let’s say this is a single picture with a single hazard. Now, as simple as this may be––just drop smoke onto the picture––I also kind of like to hide the menu, it makes a little bit more realistic. This is a perfectly fine exercise where you can discuss things like, how is the initial report going to happen? What are going to be the initial operations? Who’s coming in? Where is it going to be staged? What are some of the clues and we’re looking at here? What’s actually happening? Do we see clues about maybe the fire in the garage extending into the house? All from just really a single picture. So you don’t have to make a complicated scenario to actually have interesting training.
And to actually make this, it’s really as simple––I’m going to just remove, actually had a little bit of smoke here on the roof I didn’t even notice––I’m going to just remove this over here. It’s as simple as bringing the picture into what we call a location, clicking the + button, going around here––all these are scrolling menus––clicking smoke and let’s say I’m going to bring in turbulent smoke. Once it’s in here, I just click and drag and I move it to where I want it to be, and we try and use the same simple interface, the slider for scaling. Not really pinch and zoom, everything is going to happen with the slider. We can make it bigger or smaller, we can rotate it here. You can type a specific value any time you see this number box.
Now if I want this to have different qualities about it I go to the pencil tool, and each of the effects will have different properties. So here like brightness, opacity. So let me actually make this less dense, that opacity, so again you see the slider here. We try to keep it a consistent and simple way to add and adjust your effects. And then I can go back here once I’m done editing that effect and I can go and add some more. So I can go here and add some fire however I’d like that to be. Now you can get more complex, like you can make it look like it’s coming from inside the slit of this garage or on the other side. That’s a technique called masking. But at the end of the day, just having a basic scenario like this as a single picture is perfectly fine for a lot of types of training. You don’t have to prepare, just get the photos, put some smoke and fire, and start talking about it.
So, once you go from just a single photo hazard naturally, people are going to say, “okay, that’s the situation. How do I look on the other side? What’s going on on the other side?” What you can do is then, in here, you see this is what we call the Location Menu, and up here you create a new location which is kind of like another slide. So here, you can see it’s saying “Editing: Alpha”. We already made the first slide called Alpha and I already made a Bravo slide. And so if we’re going to make now a simulation that has a walkaround, what I would do is make an Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta––I’ve already sort of preloaded these slides in here. All I really did was go to “New Location” and add the right picture.
Now to make a walkaround, since that’s most of what people are going to be using this for, we wanted to make that very efficient. So instead of actually setting––let me actually show you what this will look like––let me go back and show for example. If we want to see what a walkaround looks like, what we’ve done is to create this simple and consistent set of arrows that you can assign. So you can make these arrows react however you’d like them to be. So, see I can go around here and make the buttons click to different locations. So let’s see how you would make a walkaround with that first residential.
How to Create a Walkaround
So I would go into, let’s say, my size up. Maybe what I might do here is if that’s my size up, actually what I’ll do is go and clone it to have––I’ll say clone it to be with a walkaround––I bring in those four slides and I do that in the New Location, that’s where I would name them. And I would just go––instead of individually setting the arrows left and right, I can go to this walkaround maker, and here is where I would now line up the slides that I want to be in the sequence of the walkaround. So this situation I’ll say it’s Alpha and then Bravo and then Charlie, just happens to coincide with the way the slides are listed here, doesn’t have to be. So I’m making that and all I do is say make a loop, I want some done there, I hit play, and now it’s added in these arrows. So you can see here if I go left, I go to Bravo. Now you might think this as a kind of north, west, south, east type of thing, but you want to think about these arrows as where can I go from the current location? So I’m sitting here, where would I go if I’m on Bravo? Left I’m going to go to Charlie and right I’ll go back to Alpha. And now here I’m on Charlie and look, now I see there’s something happening in the garage––left is going to go to Delta and right is going to go back to Bravo. So that’s going to complete my walkaround. So that’s what the walkaround maker does. It lets you create in one fell swoop, arrows to navigate around any number of locations.
Now in this scenario, I also have made an interior and an interior from the rear location. If I look at that, this is how I edit––I just bring up the location menu and I click on the one I want to edit. This is my, let’s say my garage interior. Now if you noticed when I was actually––this is what it would look like inside that garage. I’m going to go back with my left arrow key. But now if you notice there were no arrows. I really couldn’t get out of this, and I can’t even get into it because there was no arrow from the outside to get in. So what I’m going to do is now show you how you set individual arrows. So let’s say from the Alpha side––now if you notice here, no arrows going into the garage. So I have to now create an arrow and I’m just going to choose that this top arrow here is going to go into the garage. Now you could say maybe, this up to the right or to the left is a little bit better, that’s your choice. You decide what you’d like.
When I go over here into Alpha and I say set navigation and I’m going to set this and I’ll talk about it in a moment. So this is now going to tell me, “Setting Navigation for Alpha,” click the arrow to set that direction. What I do is I click the forward and now it says choose the destination that’s going to be from Alpha when forward is pressed. I’m going to say make it go interior. So now it lights up red so you can see the walkaround maker by doing left and right just basically was a shortcut to do, instead of doing this manually left going to Bravo and then right going to Delta. But now we want to set these individually so I can actually set the individual arrow. I hit done and now when I’m in Alpha here, now I have this arrow here.
So you can see we can create these walkarounds, but they don’t just have to be limited to walkarounds. So I can add arrows so when I go interior, now I’m inside the garage and now if I do this, now what’s happened is that, remember before when I was in the garage, there was no way to get out. Suddenly this red arrow appeared, and that appeared because when I set the arrow––I’ll just show you here, let that sort of magic happen––I had set this reciprocal navigation link to “Yes”. And that meant, when you assign an arrow going one way, automatically assign the opposite arrow to go back. That’s why when I’m in Alpha going into interior, it automatically set “down” going back to Alpha. So that’s a little bit of a tip there for how you set your arrows. And sometimes you don’t want to actually have the reciprocal happen, and so you shut this off and you set your arrows, and then it only does it the way that you direct it.
So that’s essentially the way you make walkarounds. Let’s talk about now how you might time things coming in, a timed evolution.
So let’s, for example, I’m going to go over here. Notice here I’ve got some smoke, I’ve got some fire, right here off of Bravo, off of the roof. So timed evolutions means that I can actually time all of the elements. Now, you don’t see them here because they’re timed to come in. And as I go around here, around to Charlie, now we start seeing that that smoke is there. And as I come back around, now we see the fire is there. So what we’ve done is we’ve programmed each of the elements to come in, to fade in at a certain time. Now if we sit at Alpha, we can actually see it happen. So I’ve just reset. I made it for I think about five or six seconds. So in a couple seconds you’ll start to see it’s getting darker here, and a couple more you’ll see there.
So what’s interesting is that the timing by default is not dependent on where you’re looking. So just like real life, something might be developing on the Charlie side and if you don’t see what’s happening, it can get really bad, so that’s why you want to actually be paying attention throughout time. You want to always be reassessing.
So to actually set timing, what you do, all you have to do is you click on the element, and then in the pencil which is the characteristics, once you’re editing that element, you’ll go to the pencil tool and then you’ll see “Delay Timing”. And here you can actually set in fading, you can also have it fade out if you wanted. That may be possible. If I go to “fade-in settings,” you’ll see this sets “Fade-In When” 5 seconds. And I can move this around to 30 seconds. If I need more than 30 seconds, I can just go type in 65 seconds, whatever I want. What this is actually saying is, after five seconds, start fading in. “Fade-In Duration” means once it’s starting fading in, how long does it take to reach its full opacity, whatever that opacity was set, that transparency. So this is going to take 10 seconds overall for it to fully fade in. And you can control all that.
And similarly with the fire, if I go to the fire here and now I go to Edit and I say “Delay Timing,” “Fade-In” settings, and you’ll see here this one starts coming in at seven seconds and takes three seconds to come in. Remember, the way we have it set up now, that’s seven seconds when you’re in the whole scenario, regardless of where the user happens to be. So that’s a really convenient feature to have the situation evolve just like it would in real life. Things are going to happen whether or not we’re doing things. Based on inaction, things are going to happen just as a result of natural consequences. So that’s why we would have timing involved in our scenarios.
Now timing, involved with scenarios is different from clicking to be involved with scenarios. So clicking would be like, the crew is going to do some action and so I don’t know when that’s going to happen so I can’t pre-program it. Or another thing is the evolution, maybe I want to hold on, give them some time to do the size-up. I don’t know that it’s going to be 30 seconds or a minute, maybe I want to give them two minutes. So instead of actually having the smoke or the fire timed in, we click some button to make it happen, and that evolves to get it to the next condition.
So for example here is a McDonald’s, and by the way all these scenarios are free. If you’re interested let me know and I can certainly show you where they are. On our website we have a section called free simulations. So over here, people are curious about all these diamonds––these are what we call masks. So you’ll see when I actually hit play, so you had smoke there but masking lest you get things so smoke looks like it’s coming from behind or through things. And you’ll see some other interesting applications of masks. But that’sit an intermediate concept that really adds a lot of a lot of realism to your scenarios.
Simulation Example #2: Walkaround with Multiple Conditions
So here what I’ve done is I have four sides of the building I’m here now at Delta and back at Alpha, but now instead of having it timed to come in, I’ve made a special button here that’s going to advance to the next condition. So what happens is, I’ve got a Delta view here and I’ve assigned a button to go up to Delta, basically fire extension. So to the user it looks like I’m staying on the same slide because the background’s the same. But we know we’ve created a second slide that has the appropriate conditions. And here I even made another slide to go to kind of even more extension, and now I can actually go and walk around.
Now you notice when I’m walking around here, if I’m walking around in the different conditions, notice how it is changing and when I walk around here, it looks consistent. I’m walking around in essentially the arrival condition. And that’s because what we did with the walkaround is to tie together the arrival slides, whereas when we go to this you’ll see in a minute, which is sort of the extension, we tied together the A/B/C/D of the extension look. So the participant doesn’t realize that they are looking basically at a different set of slides. It doesn’t really matter. And that’s how we actually do multiple conditions and by clicking, I mean clicking here to jump to another condition.
So a lot of interesting things you can do with this. And now you can see also with some masking how I can make fire look like inside windows, not only above the roof. So a lot of really cool things you can do––masking here like it’s coming through the door and it’s sort of cut off. So that’s an idea of sort of click where we’re using these buttons. These buttons also map to keys, so for example the up and down arrows are tied to these center arrows so without clicking the button, I can actually go, here I’m clicking on the keyboard. So you set up your arrows to go between your different conditions for that particular location.
Now there’s also another kind of, let this actually take a look at what these slides look like. So if I go here to Location, you’ll see there’s my Alpha but I also have an alpha fully involved, Alpha losing control and Alpha knockdown. So when I’m navigating in the arrival condition, I’ve tied together, I’ve made the walk around Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and meanwhile I made a walk around between Alpha fully involved, Bravo/Charlie fully involved so that way, the arrows for the user are consistent for the current condition.
So now I can make those arrows set up in that arrow cluster. There’s another way we actually have if you want to make it kind of more, somewhere where those arrows don’t really translate that well, let’s take a look at this simulation. And in this one you notice I got a Bravo and I’ve got a Delta exposure, but I don’t have the buttons here to go there because it’s unclear, is Bravo really going left and right or is it up to the right? So what we’ve done is used what we call a location jumper, and these are basically arrows that can move you to different locations by click or by time, and they just jump you to another slide. So if I want to go into the Bravo exposure, I click and now I’m in the Bravo exposure, that’s a new slide, I can back out. Similarly with the Delta exposure. So we definitely recommend you using for consistency this navigation cluster, but by no means do you have to use it. You can use, let’s say I now want to go into the fire building, I click on that. And now I can use a mix of them, whether they’re location jumpers or using this navigation out cluster. And now let’s say I’m showing this as a sort of a one-to-many and a screen, I may have this interior one which is going to evolve the condition, so now I go like that and now if I go interior, we’ll see it looks smoky, as it should be.
Or if I now go the location jumper, now remember this is a knockdown slide so the location jumper on this slide is going to knock down Bravo exposure, whereas when I was down over here, this location jumper––someone thinks it’s the same one but we’re really on another side––this is going to go to Bravo arrival condition, and so forth. And even, this drone picture over here it’s kind of a cue. What we have is actually a button underneath here to go sort of a 3D, top-level view. So I click on it and now you see we’re up here overhead and I can use these arrows. So someone thinks they’re clicking on the drone but they’re really clicking on a jumping mechanism. So you can put pictures on top to make it, whether it go to a map, go to a drone, go to another part of the area. So that’s how you can use the navigation features to make your your scene more realistic by having locations where people are going to be doing the various conditions.
So this is now actually a walkaround with multiple conditions and you can include time as well, so some things can evolve and some things can be clickable.
Simulation Example #3: Office/School Shooting
So we have an example, I’ll go back, this is sort of the last example in terms of a school shooting or there’s an office shooting here…This not only has different locations but you can set victims, non-victims, shooter, not shooter, so we’ve laid out several different configurations of what you’re going to see in this office.
So as I go here you can see, I’m just setting arrows to go up and around, all sorts there, I can start walking around to get used to navigating here. And look there’s a victim down there, so you can do things to present information. So this is now just an example of some basic navigation. Now I could show you here if I take it along a different path, and typical you’re not going to be seeing this over here, someone else will be controlling it––I’ll show now that they know how to navigate, now I can navigate around here and I’m now working in a different part of that slide deck, but for the user perspective they’re seeing the same sequence they’ve learned how to navigate. Now when I go over here, you see I have a victim here and this person is timed. So you can see that person is timed to show up in various locations on that particular slide that I’ve linked together. So you see you can go from extremely simple, which is just a single picture, to very complicated navigational structures in using SimsUshare. Again, the complex ones are not necessarily good for all situations, but as you need them, as you need that sort of you need that richness, you can add that in. I definitely suggest, though, starting out with something basic and working up to it as you need. Because you may find out you never need something that’s too complicated.
How to Show or Share Your Sims
So, now let me go back to different ways of how are you going to be showing it. We talked about how you going to make different things. So how do we show it? Well, we have instructor-led, meaning someone is going to take the controls and present, and whether that person also leads the person around or you give the candidate the arrows to move around, it’s still kind of instructor led––the instructor is setting the problem. You might also have it self-run where you tell people, go look at this simulation and go walk around it, so you’re going to give them material and then they do it themselves. But most of what SimsUshare has been to this point is it’s been useful as an instructor-led tool. So whether it’s one-on-one, in having someone say, “here let’s look at my iPad or look at my laptop,” whether it’s putting something up in a projector or putting the simulation up on a screen and sharing it.
Now what was added, and people are customers are probably familiar with the Command Training Center, CTC, is how you actually have one person control multiple screens. That’s what the CTC does––it coordinates multiple screens. You can be online without any software downloads and so this picture illustrates how you have one person you can see little dots on his screen and he is actually seeing where all these different people are. And these people have their own arrows so they can move around under a certain conditions, for example let’s say that they are moving around under the arrival condition. They wouldn’t have the buttons to take it from arrival to fire extension. But the controller and the instructor could make it change to actually change it to be, let’s say, a fire extension condition. And then everyone would see that condition and they can move around in that. So all these people, obviously someone’s going to be in command, they could be running the incident, and these people could be responding as if they’re in that incident all together. And again, this can be done online fairly easily, and that’s the CTC. And we do have a couple of videos you should check out right off the homepage of simsushare.com, and that will show you actually how you would actually run simulations online with your current subscription.
Upcoming Feature Announcement
So I mentioned that up to this point the training has been instructor-led mostly rather than self running. Self running––you could do that, but you have to get people into the program, you have to tell them which simulation and it’s still kind of apart from their material. What we’re very excited to announce, coming this summer we’ll have the ability to embed stimulations directly into web pages. Many of you have learning management systems and are doing online training, or a good number of people with different providers. Or maybe you have some department web pages where you have some drills. You will soon be able to actually put a fully interactive simulation into your web page. So rather just putting a video of it, which is just play once or repeat it, you’ll actually be able to put this in and have the person, without anyone else controlling, move around and click the arrows and evolve things and have it all self run. So this is really exciting to watch out for. I’m sure we’re going to do a webinar in a little bit once this has introduced about that.
So to wrap up here, I want to thank you for coming with me along, seeing this kind of high-level view of the different components of SimsUshare, kind of how they’ve evolved. You can see we’ve done quite a lot as we move toward more web-based delivery, but also as people are digging further into the program you’ll see that there is more functionality as well that we’re exposing. Now, again based on our core mission though, we want to make sure that it always remains simple to create simple stuff. So we hope you agree, we hope that you’ll reach out to us so we can help you, and we are available to see that you can get the most value from your purchase. Please let us know how we can help you. Now I’m going to put this recording into our webinar archives. If anyone has any questions, please use a chat window. If you’d like to use the microphone, please just raise your hand and I will then unmute your microphone. But thank you very much, I appreciate your attention.