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Sep. 5, 2012 10:30 am

SimsUShare: visualize your building on fire with this iPad app to be better prepared to respond

What if you could visualize a fire before it happened? Firefighters could potentially develop more accurate response strategies, building managers could more effectively test their emergency exit plans and residents could gain perspective on what to do if their home goes up in flames. Fire preparation could finally have a visual support: what would the […]

What if you could visualize a fire before it happened?

Firefighters could potentially develop more accurate response strategies, building managers could more effectively test their emergency exit plans and residents could gain perspective on what to do if their home goes up in flames. Fire preparation could finally have a visual support: what would the flames look like so we can better respond to them.

That’s the idea behind SimsUShare, an iPad app created by the Queen Village software company Equipment Simulations. The app is a more accessible version of the company’s flagship software, CommandSim, says company president Jonathan Kaye.

Download the iPad app for $9.99 here.

With the app, teachers only need a few touches on the screen to create a simulated disaster, like a fire or a gas explosion. You can even use your own photos of buildings (or people , which Kaye says is, of course, one of the first things people like to try with the app). SimsUShare provides a customized training tool for students, rather than a stock photo of a fire, Kaye says.

The app is part of a larger project funded by the federal government’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Next up is a SimsUShare iPhone app, Kaye says.

When Technically Philly trialed the app, we found that users choose different fire options and drag their fingers on a chosen photo to create different types and placements of fire, explosions and the like. To date, the on-the-spot simulation may look more like an early 1990s action film than the type of image that could convince your roommate that your rowhouse is burning to the ground, but the functionality holds true: if there’s a fire there, what might that look like and how would we respond?

It’s probably a pretty effective addition to your fire drill.

Equipment Simulations’ team consists of two full-time employees and three part-timers. Aside from its Queen Village office, the company has a satellite office in Melbourne, Fla. and Kaye says he works out of Indy Hall a few times a month.

Kaye, 46, grew up in New York City and got his doctorate in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania. He founded Equipment Simulations in 1999 after spending years as a volunteer EMT in Philly’s suburbs. He lives in Queen Village with his wife and two children.

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes began as lead reporter at Technical.ly Philly in July 2012. Previously, she was a city services beat reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, as part of a project called “It’s Our Money.” She is learning to drive, learning to bike (in the city) but is an expert at taking SEPTA. She grew up in North Jersey and Manila, Philippines but she left the tropics for Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in linguistics. She now lives in West Philly.

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