SimulationDeck Adds Realism to Central Texas Active Shooter Exercise


Simulated social media video broadcasts add realism to the BigX; a central Texas active shooter exercise.

  • The Challenge

    In late 2016, the Olson Group, Ltd., used SimulationDeck to execute a multi-jurisdictional full-scale exercise, BigX, for the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG). Exercise planners needed a systematic and realistic way to deliver ground truth about an active shooter event to more than 2,500 participants spread across the 16-county region.

  • The Approach

    By logging into SimulationDeck’s Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) management tool, InjectDeck, exercise controllers throughout the 100-mile playing field monitored the release of injects, tracked exercise progress, logged notes in real time as players performed specific actions at individual exercise sites.

    Simultaneously, the mock media and social media simulation cell interviewed spokespersons from playing organizations, published news stories, introduced breaking news TV and radio broadcasts, and maintained a steady stream of social media chatter by publishing simulated posts from members of the public, elected officials, victims, and even perpetrators.

  • The Unexpected Opportunity

    In the wake of recent real-world terrorist activity broadcasted over Facebook Live, exercise designers wanted to test the training audience’s ability to manage this kind of social media terrorism. Using SimulationDeck’s social media applications, designers were able to simulate terrorists posting and even live streaming their activities on social media.

    This realistically high-pressure, high-stakes environment created in SimulationDeck’s completely private exercise platform allowed participants to practice coordinating their response to a high-profile terrorist attack, without the inherent vulnerabilities of simulating activity of this nature on real-world social media properties.


“For the BigX, we’re really, really focused on exercise integrity and objective integrity and to make sure our scenarios are as realistic as we can possibly get. So, having the newsreels, and the tweets come in, and those kinds of things, that really would drive any kind of decision making, or anything like that at the lower level in emergency management coordinating or the EOC, helps those folks practice making decisions over and over so in the real event they’ll be a lot more comfortable dealing with anything that might be coming in."

Molly McFadden,
Emergency Preparedness Director North Central Texas Council of Governments