The types of challenges facing the police, counter terrorism and critical national infrastructure operators have undergone significant changes in complexity and frequency in recent years. Lone wolf terrorist incidents, cyber attacks on multi-national companies and European infrastructure, along with the recent nerve agent attacks in the UK, mean that now more than ever that the techniques used to train our police officers have to be reviewed and developed continuously.
Image: Jos Alfonso De Tomas Gargantilla/123rf
Of course, nothing can replace real-life training, but the use of innovative technology is increasingly being explored in an effort to find ways to expand the training options available to security critical agents.
The Training Augmented Reality Generalised Environment Toolkit (Target) project has been exploring ways to incorporate mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR) into the range of training options available. The core objective is, quite simply, to immerse trainees at operational, tactical and strategic command levels with scenarios that include tactical firearms events, asset protection, mass demonstrations, cyber-attacks and CBRN incidents.
The practical and very tangible benefits of these MR and VR solutions include:
- The ability to train more officers in a given period
- Fewer role players are needed for successful exercises
- Exercises are cost-effective and easily repeatable
- High levels of immersion seen during trials
In real terms of course, these benefits can add up to significant cost savings and greater efficiencies. Needing fewer role players also means that officers are able to carry out their normal operational duties, which is perhaps particularly important in these times of austerity.
Target is a project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.As well as MR and VR, Target has developed CPX, a comprehensive command and control tool and exercise inject editor, an innovative interactive assessment engine and an image store of over 300 2D and 3D models, consisting of humans (first responders, civilians, injured and fatalities), vehicles (police, fire, ambulance and civilian) and buildings, created through the use of high resolution drone photogrammetry.
It is almost a year since the V1 trials of the Target solutions and the V2 developments were put through their paces in the field during September 2018. The trials were used to test and evaluate the second versions of the MR, VR, command post and assessment engine solutions, as well as the training contents developed during the project. The feedback received from the end users were used to make final adjustments in the V3 of the solutions before the conclusion of the project at the end of October.
There were six trials in all, each one of which was hosted by the project's end user partners – police training colleges in Slovakia, Germany, Spain, France and in the gold command room of a UK fire and rescue service.
The trials were as follows:
TC1: CBRN forensics simulation
A chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) forensics scenario was used to train specialist officers wearing AR headsets. Hosted by the International Security and Emergency Management Institute (ISEMI) in the Slovak Republic
TC2: Large civil disorder / riot scenario
Police protecting a Critical National Infrastructure location during a mass demonstration was the scenario used in this command post exercise, hosted by Fachhochschule der Polizei des Landes Brandenburg, Germany
TC3: Cyber attack on a power grid
A gold command, multiagency, table-top command post exercise focussed on a cyber attack on the regional energy grid, hosted by Cleveland Fire Brigade in the UK
TC4: Tactical firearms short exercises
This scenario was a tactical terrorist firearms scenario in a confined, multi-room space, using the Target AR solutions and hosted by the Institut de Seguretat Publica de Catalunya (ISPC) with Guardia Civil in Barcelona, Spain
TC5: Territorial police encounter with an armed assailant
Police officers at the École Nationale Supérieure de la Police near Lyon, France used AR headsets to resolve a complex and threatening situation with an armed assailant after a car accident
TC6: Multi-jurisdictional mass road traffic collision
A major road traffic collision involving 90 vehicles on a motorway was the complex scenario in this command post and VR exercise, hosted by Deutsche Hochschule der Polizei in Münster, Germany
Further information is available from the project website