Simulation software could ease 2010


Soccer World Cup organisers and city managers would do well to test disaster management plans using available software.Cybersim, a Pretoria-based simulation and gaming software development company, is marketing SimTek as a planning and decision-support tool for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

SimTek is a spin-off of the company`s BattleTek software – developed for military training, to analyse and test battle plans, provide decision support, and command and control (C2).

“The objective of the exercise is to sort out any incident in the most cost-effective way,” programs and marketing director Ockert van der Schyf says.

SimTek, he adds, “provides the tools to test and practice emergency plans and to improve the decision-making performance of disaster and incident management personnel”.

“It should be used at every 2010 Soccer World Cup venue to prepare the people involved for all contingencies. You can have various plans for various contingencies. But how will you deal with a heart attack, which is very likely, in, for example, a rioting crowd?

“Then the deficiencies of the combined plans will show up,” he explains, citing the deaths of 43 fans in a stampede at Ellis Park in April 2001 as one tragedy that could have been avoided if the event organisers had tested their plans.

Simple gaming

SimTek has been used on a “per exercise” basis by a number of municipalities, as well as by the organisers of the Rand Easter Show. It has been demonstrated to the National Disaster Management Centre in Pretoria. Cybersim is also a partner with Saab GrIDS in providing the Eastern Cape a disaster management system under a Department of Provincial and Local Government contract.

“It is very simple gaming, there are no complex algorithms, but it is very realistic,” Van der Schyf says. As with the military simulations, SimTek is derived from exercises, which are followed by after-action reviews where all decisions taken are reviewed.

“There are no right or wrong decisions, just poor and good. The question is whether it was the best decision at the time,” he says.

The army`s recent Exercise Seboka was preceded by a number of simulations on BattleTek to fine-tune orders and instructions and was used, for the first time, at the military`s Combat Training Centre, in the Northern Cape, to track vehicles and personnel real-time on the 90km x 30km battle space.