LPA Application Brief #5

ApplicationFire Officer Training
CompanyFire Services
IndustryEmergency Services

"The rich set of graphics functions was one of the major reasons for selecting MacProlog"

Iccarus is a simulator which helps to train senior fire brigade officers who have to take decisions during major incidents. The program was written with LPA's MacProlog, and runs on an Apple Macintosh computer linked to a transputer.

The interface uses windows, menus, and is icon-based, though not the standard Mac package. It was designed specifically for the Iccarus system, and was implemented from the rich set of graphic functions available in MacProlog. This ability to manipulate graphics at the interface level was cited by Workhouse Limited, which formed part of the development team, as one of the major reasons for selecting MacProlog as the implementation language. The whole audio visual system comprises a Mac/transputer with a high definition A3 monitor, a CD/Videodisk, a standard PAL TV monitor, and a loudspeaker.

In operation, a number of start up scenarios are possible, involving a three-story building or warehouse, which can contain hazardous chemicals and trapped occupants. From this point the situation evolves dynamically as elements of the simulation interact with each other and user choices.

Each object functions independently of other factors in the scenario, using a set of built-in behaviours to respond to each situation. For example, press photographers tend to have certain behaviours.

To give a realistic simulation, the fire officer is bombarded with a continual stream of images, and messages from a variety of people at the scene of the fire, via the audio visual system. Auditory and visual cues prompt events so that the officer can react to his or her perceptions, rather than just to status information on the main display.

The mathematical and heuristic models for the fire run on the transputer which resides inside the Macintosh. More of the system would have been implemented on the transputer, but a Prolog compiler was not available for this processor. This potentially awkward marriage, however, results in a flexible system which is now helping fire officers to improve their decision making.

Iccarus' interface uses graphics created with MacProlog.

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