CBC News: Kamloops researchers develop software to help prevent lone-wolf shooter attacks

07/20/2019
Computer program uses 3D imaging to detect possible locations for an attack

After the 2017 attack in Las Vegas — where a single gunman opened fire on concertgoers from his hotel room window, killing dozens — researcher Andrew Park wanted to use his skills to help in some way. 

Park, an associate professor in the computing science department at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, got to work creating a computer program to try to detect where a shooter might situate themselves at future events.

 

Park has spent the past couple of years working with a team to develop a 3D computer program to help police visually analyze the possible vantage points from which a lone-wolf attacker could operate.

"This is related to all public safety and counter-terrorism. So any people who are related to this domain can take advantage of this kind of system," said Park.

The program allows users to pick a location, and then it creates a 3D environment to help users visualize what a place looks like. Then, using an algorithm, it calculates the most likely points from where a gunman could potentially shoot and hit targets.

 

This is what the software looks like when the coordinates of the Route 91 Festival, where the mass shooting happened in Las Vegas in 2017, are plugged in. If the stage is selected as the place a user wants to protect, the yellow rays show the angles from which the stage can be hit.

Karthik Vedantham is a research student from India who was paired with Park through the Mitacs Globalink program, an international research internship program, and has been working on the program for the past few months. 

Vedantham has always been fascinated with new technologies in visualization, he told Daybreak Kamloops' Courtney Dickson.

"This project, it seemed like it had a lot of social value to it because I would be doing something that actually contributes in helping people."

For 'close circles'

Vedantham and Park hope their work will help security teams or police check out locations for potential threats more efficiently.

"With this, you can do a virtual analysis and you can literally interact with that environment in 3D as many times as you want, and you can do this without actually setting foot there," said Vedantham.

Their goal is to create better predictions for possible attacks and prevention strategies, he added.

Eventually, they would like to make the software more dynamic by making it available in a virtual reality format, which would make it even more realistic.

They're aiming to have the program ready by the end of summer, and when it is, it will only be available for "close circles of law enforcement and military," said Vedantham.

They want to ensure the program can't be taken advantage of by potential attackers, he said.

They hope the program can be used at future events in the city.

 

 


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