DHS uses gaming platform to monitor border security

The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is funding the development of a game-based tool that creates high-level models for border security.

The Borders High Level Model (HLM) uses a serious gaming platform known as Ground Truth and a force-on-force battle simulation tool called Dante.

“There’s a lot of debate going on in the government concerning the technology and infrastructure investments that need to be made along the border,” says Jason Reinhardt, Borders HLM project manager at Sandia National Laboratories, which carrying out the work.

“How much fence do we need? What kind of fence? What is the right mix of border personnel and technology? How can sensors, vehicles and other technical equipment most effectively be used? With Borders HLM, CBP officials can simulate their defensive architectures, accurately measure their performance and start to answer these difficult questions.”

Ground Truth is a gaming platform originally designed to prepare decision makers and first responders for weapons of mass destruction in metropolitan areas. It provides a virtual environment where users can play through different  scenarios to see the effects of their decisions.

For the Borders HLM project, it’s been integrated into a bottom-projected touch surface table. On this, users can see people moving across the border terrain, observe CBP personnel respond to incidents and essentially control them to stop suspects.

“We learned that the border patrol agents and CBP decision-makers need a tool that offers a common view of the problems they face,” says Reinhardt.

“With our high level model, they can play through various scenarios and see how people, technology and other elements all interact. Then, later, they can go back and do a baseline analysis and dig into the details of why certain architectures and solutions aren’t working as well as they should.”