Collaborative Virtual Reality Environment (CVE) Real-time Emergency Evacuation of Kiss Nightclub Fire at Santa Maria, Brazil

    Students: Alicia Miller and Revanth Baskar

    Status: Current


Emergency preparedness is achieved by planning, training, equipping, and exercising the emergency response. The preparation and training for emergency events is critically important for safety in our day to day lives. We can learn a lot from previous disasters which is valuable for accuracy in decision making strategies. The CVE platform acts as a training and educational tool by exploring the environment in Virtual Reality. The purpose of this project is to re-create a past events that occurred during the tragedy in a nightclub in Brazil. It utilizes Unity 3D assets and applied mecanim animations to replicate realistic experiences. It also utilized Photon Unity Networking to allow the use of multiple user capability. Our hypothesis is that the CVE would allow learning from existing disasters to prepare for similar events. The proposed CVE should decrease safety risks as well as allow users to evacuate safely during emergency responses.

The disaster at the night club had the following fatalities:

  • 234 deaths at scene
  • 622 injuries
  • 145 hospital admissions w/ 8 deaths
  • Estimated attendance: 864 – 2000 civilians
  • Single available exit, second exit inaccessible due to metal bars.
  • Restrooms: 180 victims
  • Firefighters responded to scene within 3-5 min



Virtual Reality (VR) environments for disaster training and response appears promising in its ability to bridge the gaps of other commonly established training formats. Specifically, the immersive nature of VR training offers a unique realistic quality that is not generally present in a classroom or web based training. We have demonstrated our approach-using user controlled agents and computer controlled agents (computer bots) in VR environment. It allows a user to navigate inside the night club disaster immersive environment using HTC vive and controllers. The user had the ability to start fire and smoke, start evacuation, put of fire, pick up safety cones and place them, and navigate in the environment.
  fire brigade throwing water at the night club fire HTC Vive Controller to turn fire, water and evacuation On/OFF
  HTC Vive Controller with menus for selection HTC Vive Controller used to turn ON the fire and smoke
  HTC Vive Controller used to turn evacuation ON  
  Next version of Menu for left controller Grab option for right hand controller
Contrtoller to trigger smoke and fire as well as water

Collaborative Virtual Reality Environment for a Real-time Nightclub disaster

We have implemented Photon Unity Networking to allow the use of multi- user capability in the virtual environment. Our hypothesis is that the CVE will allow us to learn from existing disasters and prepare for future disasters or similar events. This should decrease safety risks and allow people to evacuate safely during emergency situations. We have used experimental design approach as the method for redesigning an existing disaster for conducting numerous what-if scenarios. We have created a realistic environment by using Sketch up and UNITY 3D gaming engine for the modeling platform. We have incorporated C# behavior scripts, looping, and key triggered animations, and implementation of RAIN Navigation (AI scripts).  We have also incorporated the multi-user capability by incorporating Photon Unity Networking.



The implementation was done 3 phases

  1. Modeling
    -Sketch up/UNITY 3d
  2. Programming (Unity 3d)
    - C# behavior scripts
    - Animations
  3. Photon Unity (CLIENT/SERVER) Networking
    - Multiple players are able to connect virtually simultaneously
    - Chat feature is available for interaction
    - Developed an execution file for testing


We have tested the CVE environment using 9-10 clients. The agents were able to move in the environment as autonomous agents. The user controlled agents were able to visualize fire and smoke in the environment. Computer controlled agents had pre-existing animation for emergency response as well as dancing.


  • Sharma, S., Amo-Fempong, I., Scribner, P., Grynovicki, J., Grazaitis, P.,"Collaborative Virtual Reality Environment for a Real-time Emergency Evacuation of a Nightclub disaster", IS&T International Symposium on Electronic Imaging (EI 2019), Burlingame, California, 13-17 January 2019. (Submitted)