Thunderhead News

2021.2 Release – Available Now

Posted on May 10th, 2021

The latest updates for PyroSim, Pathfinder and Results are available now. The 2021.2 release focuses on creating new complex behaviors through queues, supporting social distancing through proximity analysis, and creating a better user experience.

View our Release Notes to download and see the full details, or read on for a quick look at what’s new. … Read More

Improvements in Results 2021.2

Posted on May 10th, 2021

Results 2021.2 includes a large new set of 2D plots for proximity analysis as discussed in a paper by Enrico Ronchi and Ruggiero Lovreglio. … Read More

Proximity Analysis and the Thunderhead development process

Posted on April 29th, 2021

The upcoming release of Pathfinder Results version 2021.2 will include a Proximity Analysis feature based on the paper EXPOSED: An occupant exposure model for confined spaces to retrofit crowd models during a pandemic by Enrico Ronchi and Ruggiero Lovreglio. In the paper Enrico and Ruggiero lay out a method to create metrics that measure occupant exposure in microscopic scale environments, which enables evaluation of the efficacy of infection mitigation measures. In simpler terms, they supply a way to measure how effective social distancing measures are at preventing the spread of disease. This post will lay out our development process to create this and other features and summarize the proximity analysis feature as implemented in version 2021.2.

The Thunderhead development process

At Thunderhead Engineering, we have periods of time that we call “Project Phoenix” where developers can work on any project that is interesting to them, whether it is a marketable feature or just a fun research project. During our Project Phoenix iteration last June, two of our interns worked on a project involving tracking the spread of an infectious disease in a Pathfinder model. This initial project modified the Pathfinder simulator to produce a simple SIR-like model during occupant movement.

After this project was completed, our team discovered Enrico and Ruggiero’s paper. After speaking with Enrico and showing him their prior project, our interns and the rest of the development team decided to modify the project to reflect the paper’s suggestions and implement it as a new feature in our Results viewer. After 3 iterations of the project, and some help from the rest of our development team, the proximity analysis feature is ready for release.

What is Proximity Analysis?

Unlike the first iteration of the project, the Proximity Analysis feature shipping in the upcoming 2021.2 release does not modify the Pathfinder simulator. Instead, it post-processes the output of Pathfinder simulations in our Results program. The Results Viewer generates a proximity analysis report that provides various metrics regarding occupant exposure, including the amount of time that k number of occupants are within a proximity radius of another occupant, how many occupants are violating the proximity radius at any given point in time, and a global exposure time metric. Because this feature is part of Results viewer and does not modify the simulator, users will not need to re-create or re-run simulations to generate Proximity Analysis reports. They can be generated using the results from any existing Pathfinder simulation.

Example Proximity Tracing Graph
Example of one of the graphs output by the new Proximity Analysis feature of Pathfinder Results 2021.2

How would Proximity Analysis be used?

One case where proximity analysis is particularly useful is when evaluating social distancing measures. By performing a baseline/control simulation, changes made to the Pathfinder model can be evaluated by their effects on the global occupant exposure metric to determine if the changes are effective in enforcing social distancing. This can also be used to compare different social distancing measures against each other to determine which ones are the most effective.

Conclusion

Our team enjoyed creating this new Proximity Analysis feature, and we look forward to continuing to improve our products. You will be able to access Proximity Analysis in the upcoming 2021.2 release. If you have any suggestions for features you would like to see in our products, you can email them to our Support team at Support@thunderheadeng.com and we will consider them.

Bibliography

Ronchi, Enrico, and Ruggiero Lovreglio. “EXPOSED: An Occupant Exposure Model for Confined Spaces to Retrofit Crowd Models during a Pandemic.” Safety Science, vol. 130, Oct. 2020, p. 104834., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2020.104834.

2021.1 Release – Available Now

Posted on February 24th, 2021

The latest updates for PyroSim, Pathfinder and Results are available now. The 2021.1 release focuses on improving every day productivity.

View our Release Notes to download and see the full details, or read on for a quick look at what’s new. … Read More

User Experience Improvements to PyroSim 2021.1

Posted on February 15th, 2021

We are constantly taking feedback from our users and incorporating their suggestions in to our products to improve the user experience. In that vein, we have made several usability improvements to PyroSim in the 2021.1 release, some of which are mentioned below.

Update: The 2021.1 PyroSim Release is available now

New Scenarios are now activated immediately after creation

Following the release of the Scenarios feature in version 2020.4, some users reported that they would create a new scenario and begin editing, only to realize that they had not switched over to the newly created scenario and had to undo their changes. We have updated the Scenarios tool so that when you create a new scenario it is automatically activated, and any changes that you make will be added to it by default. If you haven’t already, check out our Scenarios tutorial to learn the basics of how you can use the Scenarios feature in your workflow.

The drawing of individual points can be undone when using the wall or slab tools

Prior to version 2021.1, if you were to start drawing with either the wall or slab tools and make a mistake, there was not a way to undo the mistake. Using the Ctrl+Z shortcut would instead undo the last action outside of the tool. In version 2021.1 we have added the ability to undo individual points when using those tools, which will be especially helpful if you are drawing obstruction with a lot of vertices. You can see a short demonstration of the new undo action below.

The state of the FDS Blocks Preview is now remembered when you re-open your models

We had some users report that they found the FDS Blocks Preview very useful for verifying their models, but they saw performance issues when enabling/disabling the FDS Preview on larger models. This was exacerbated when they had to close and re-open models, and then had to switch to the FDS Blocks Preview. Because of this, we modified PyroSim to save the state of the FDS Blocks Preview when a model is saved. Now, if you are viewing the preview and close your model, the preview will be shown when you re-open the model.

Clicking a selected object in the Navigation Tree will open a renaming prompt

You can now rename most objects in the PyroSim navigation tree similar to how files can be renamed in the Windows File Explorer. Prior to this, the only way to rename objects was to right-click the object, then find the rename button to trigger the renaming prompt. Now, you can select an item in the Navigation tree and click it again a few milliseconds later to rename it.

Requested Improvements in Results 2021.1

Posted on February 10th, 2021

Our first release of the year will include requested improvements to our Results application. Results can view the output of the simulators embedded in PyroSim and Pathfinder. The improvements below help with visualizing social distancing hot spots using contours, showing cut outs from PyroSim slices, and improving the ability to edit colorbars for FDS results.

Social Distance Contours

Our first release of the year will include requested improvements to our Results application. Results can view the output of the simulators embedded in PyroSim and Pathfinder. The improvements below help with visualizing social distancing hot spots using contours, showing cut outs from PyroSim slices, and improving the ability to edit colorbars for FDS results.

Social Distance Contours
Figure: A Pathfinder model with the Social Distancing contour enabled. The occupants that are violating social distancing are highlighted with a scale that matches the severity of the violation.

Note: The social distancing contour has inverted coloring by default. This serves to better highlight the hotspots where occupants break social distancing.

Cut out obstruction in slices

After receiving several requests from users, we modified how the data inside of obstructions is displayed when viewing 2D and 3D slices in PyroSim Results. When viewing a slice in prior versions of PyroSim, the data inside of an obstruction was stored as a value of 0, and the slice would display the appropriate color for that region. In version 2021.1, slices will display blank areas where they intersect obstructions instead of showing the color for the 0 value. This should aid users and reduce confusion when showcasing results to clients and AHJs.

OBST data not cut out
Figure: A 2D temperature slice shown in version 2020.5 of PyroSim. The central wall (transparent and highlighted) appears in the slice as the blue color for a 0C temperature.
OBST data cut out
Figure: A 2D temperature slice shown in version 2021.1 of PyroSim. The central wall (transparent) does not appear in the slice, but the central hole in that wall (where relevant data is recorded) appears normally on the scale.

Colorbar – FDS Preferences Quantity selection

The FDS data preferences colorbar setting UI was updated so that the dialog now shows a drop-down for the quantity whose colorbar information you’re editing. If you activate an output object and then double-click the colorbar, it will show the FDS preferences dialog like before, but it will automatically select the quantity of the active object in the drop-down.

FDS Preferences Dialog

Note: There are some quantities that are technically the same. For example, GAS TEMPERATURE and TEMPERATURE are different quantities even though they both measure temperature. They show up as two different quantities in the drop-down since they have different names, and you can edit properties for each separately. You’re allowed to activate objects of both quantities at the same time, but only the properties for the last activated quantity are used.

Upcoming Events in 2021

Posted on February 5th, 2021

There are a few events coming up this year that we would like to make you aware of.

Thunderhead Training

See the Thunderhead Training page for more information and to register for the events below.

Location Date Course
Asia
Aus/NZ
February 16 and 17 
February 23 and 24 
March 2 and 3
March 9 and 10
PyroSim/FDS Workshop
22:00 UTC on Monday and Tuesday (Tuesday and Wednesday morning
in Aus/NZ) for four weeks, two hour sessions
Asia
Aus/NZ
March 30 and 31
April 6 and 7
April 13 and 14
April 20 and 21
Advanced PyroSim/FDS Workshop
22:00 UTC on Monday and Tuesday (Tuesday and Wednesday morning
in Aus/NZ) for four weeks, two hour sessions
Americas May 11 and 12
May 18 and 19
May 25 and 26
June 1 and 2
PyroSim/FDS Workshop
17:00 UTC on Tuesday and Wednesday
for four weeks, two hour sessions
Americas June 22 and 23
June 29 and 30
July 6 and 7
July 13 and 14
Advanced PyroSim/FDS Workshop
17:00 UTC on Tuesday and Wednesday
for four weeks, two hour sessions

PyroSim + Cloud HPC Webinar

Cloud HPC – Use the best scalability for your FDS analyses” – Event hosted by CFD FEA Service.  To attend the webinar on Feb 18, 2021, visit the event page on LinkedIn.

SFPE Training

Advanced Fire Dynamic Simulator (FDS) with PyroSim and Smokeview
This seminar will hold live sessions Monday, Wednesday, and Friday(s), February 15 – March 12 from 11am to 1pm ET. Please see the SFPE Event Page for more information and to Register.

All FEMTC 2020 Videos Now Available

Posted on December 16th, 2020

In September, Thunderhead Engineering welcomed a record attendance to FEMTC 2020 in its first virtual edition. We are excited to present to you the full set of presentations from our event with videos, papers, and slides available. This material is free for anyone to download/view. … Read More

2020.5 Release – Available Now

Posted on November 17th, 2020

Our latest updates for PyroSim, Pathfinder, and Results are available now. View our Release Notes to download and see the full details, or read on for a quick look at what’s new. … Read More

2020 R&D Overview – Past, Present, & Future

Posted on November 5th, 2020

In Brian’s second talk at FEMTC 2020, he presents an overview of research and development at Thunderhead Engineering in the years since FEMTC 2018. If you haven’t yet watched his first presentation, you can view it now for a deep dive into Pathfinder movement behavior research. This presentation covers the bulk of many other topics we’ve focused on. … Read More

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