Progress Report, 20 November 2017


The goal of this project is the creation of a Virtual Reality (VR) lesson in Damage Assessment for electric utility workers, who are called upon to function as assessors in major system emergencies. This is a vital role for which proper training is critical (New York Public Service Commission, 2016), and in which performance has historically been inadequate. (Kullmann, 2013)

To maximize learner engagement (Hsu 2013), and given the short time available between warnings of storms or other disasters and the actual need for damage assessment, the final lesson will utilize fully-asynchronous immersive virtual reality (e-learning). Given resource and time limitations, this project will be devoted to creating a pilot version of the lesson, with off-the-shelf VR software, and will be facilitated. Cost considerations led to the selection of OpenSimulator as the technology for the pilot.

After incorporating the lessons of the pilot process, the final production version may use different technology.

The lesson will be scenario-based, Students will be directed to traverse a simulated area and complete real-world damage assessment tasks such as reporting damage. During piloting, performance will be assessed by facilitators using rubrics.

Performance of the lesson itself will be assessed using a combination of student improvement (before-and-after challenges), along with questionnaires to determine student reactions. The success of the lesson will be determined by the utilities, after its eventual rollout, when they determine whether their assessors are performing their tasks with the required proficiency.


The author is compelled to report that the project has not progressed to the expected level of completion at this writing. While the foundational work (literature review, overall design, assessment plan) has been completed, the actual creation of the 3D environment and the writing of the assessment instruments (rubrics, questionnaires) has not. It is the author’s plan to work intensively on these items over the next several days. Since the actual 3D environment can largely be constructed from standard issue (almost modular) components, the 3D layout should not be enormously time-consuming, especially since the pilot doesn’t require construction of an entire detailed city consisting of multiple blocks of buildings of different types (as the final lesson might).

Clearly no substantial work can be completed on the video until there is 3D content to include in it. This stage will follow the completion (or near-completion) of the VR environment.


Freeman, L. A.; Stano, G. J.; and Gordon, M. E. (2010). Best Practices for Storm Response on U.S. Distribution Systems. Proc. 2010 DistribuTech, Mar. 23, 2010.

Hsu EB, Li Y, Bayram JD, Levinson D, Yang S, Monahan C. State of Virtual Reality Based Disaster Preparedness and Response Training. PLOS Currents Disasters. 2013 Apr 24 . Edition 1. doi: 10.1371/currents.dis.1ea2b2e71237d5337fa53982a38b2aff.

Kullmann, J. (2013). Survey: damage assessment key to effective outage restoration. Electric Light & Power, (1). 51.

New York Public Service Commission. M­0101 – Proceeding on Motion of the Commission in Regard to Reforming the Energy Vision. (2016, May 19). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from