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A 1983 Simulation Evaluation: The Synthesized Media Environment System

On February 11, 1983, the Dade-Miami Criminal Justice Council office initiated a study to assess the usefulness and viability of a stress reaction simulator training program.

Here are a few key mentions of the 70+ page literature published on September 12, 1983.

September and Associates Inc. SME-24


System Description:

  1. 20' x 8' Screen

  2. 24 Kodak Ektagraphic slide projectors and a 16 mm camera

  3. Low light infrared camera to record the student and his actions

  4. Operators booth with a microcomputer

  5. 8 channel tape

  6. cassette recorder

  7. 3/4 inch video recorder

  8. Tape recorder for various auditory responses with the visual presentation

The evaluation begins by examining the system and its technical qualities to better understand how the technology will be utilized in the most effective way. Simulation technology is designed to simulate realistic environments, the SME-24's screen size purpose was mentioned to teach students not to have tunnel vision and make the images more realistic.

Independent evaluators separate from September and Associates stated that the use of the Kodak Ektagraphic projectors was the most appropriate form of media because of the high-resolution characteristics as well as a better source for branching capabilities.

Various formats of media were explored including video tape, video disc, and movie film. However, it was determined that due to the screen size, using these formats would compromise the image quality and the Kodak projectors could provide that much-needed higher lines of resolution.

Software & Scenarios

The biggest flaw with this early simulation platform was the fact that every scenario was not a "shoot/don't shoot" but rather a "when do you shoot" situation.

Oddly enough, what was needed the most from these scenarios was not only more option reaction outcomes but also scenarios built around local issues such as intercultural communication and de-escalation techniques.

Another noteworthy discovery made during the study regarding the different scenarios was that law enforcement officers encountered difficulties in comprehending certain slang terminologies. Furthermore, they expressed a preference for videos filmed within the local vicinity.

More challenges included poor training, a lack of accuracy measurements, a lack of assessment tools, and no way to evaluate student performance.

It is fascinating to observe the striking parallels between the challenges encountered four decades ago and the ones faced by modern advanced decision-making simulation systems today.

Branching Scenarios:

Most 21st-century systems utilize branching options during each scenario, allowing the training direction to go down several paths.

For the SME-24 in 1983, the study states that September and Associates Inc. system offers 29 branching options for each scenario, however, the operators could only initiate 1 of 4 paths only prior to starting a scenario.

This brought to question the integrity of the program. The scene ran regardless of the student's action, if suspects were shot, they would not fall, etc.

It was suggested that the results did not teach appropriate responses and no valuable training occurred.

Measurement of Stress

September and Associates Inc. comment that they "take you up a stress curve and down a stress curve." by analyzing the student's eyes through the infrared camera recording. It's safe to say that this isn't the most effective method to capture stress.

The study states that a device to analyze measurements of biofeedback would be a useful tool. Blood pressure, pulse rate, and perspiration as examples.

Other Uses of the Simulator

The fact that a police officer has to make a life-threatening decision in one to two seconds was an event not widely known or understood by the public. The evaluators concluded that another use of the simulator would serve as a public relations and education tool to better inform the public of an officer's role and responsibility.

Due to the lack of technology, most other usage such as hostage negotiation training, crowd control training, etc. would have to continue with actual role players.

Download PDF • 4.97MB

Above is the full PDF evaluation report

It's amazing to witness the tremendous progress in simulation technology over the past four decades. Thanks to the advancements in XR (extended reality) and the worldwide collaborative efforts to achieve interoperability, some of the desired outcomes mentioned in this evaluation have become a reality.


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