Researcher Blog by Jonathan Saunders: ‘Serious Games’ at Counter Terror Expo 2017
About the author
Jonathan Saunders is a Serious Games Researcher in CENTRIC (Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organised Crime). He is currently working on the AUGGMED project which uses a virtual and mixed reality environment to deliver training to a range of agencies dealing with terror threat scenarios.
Jonathan recently showcased AUGGMED at the 2017 Counter Terror Expo in London to give delegates a chance to trial the new platform. In this post Jonathan explains how he is applying virtual reality technology to training situations for emergency first responders.
Modern technology is helping discover avenues for new and novel solutions to problems which have often been insurmountable in the past. One such solution is the impact of Virtual Reality (VR) on existing training practices. Historically, training first responders would require a combination of table top exercises, classroom based lessons and infrequent real world exercises. Combined these would give trainees the required understanding to perform their role in the given situation. However, orchestrating scenarios is often prohibitively expensive, requiring significant manpower, time, and money to develop whilst only providing an emotionally neutral experience.
VR can enable these same scenarios to be performed without the need to shut down real world locations or co-locate multiple trainees, and can provide an emotionally charged experience better preparing trainees for a real event. Modern technical advancements have made cost effective VR training a possibility through the commercialisation of standardised VR headsets such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. The AUGGMED project is designed to capitalise on these opportunities to develop an effective and adaptable training experience to first responders form across the European Union.
The AUGGMED project is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme and involves multiple partners from throughout the European Union. The purpose of the project is to develop a serious games platform which enables online, multi-user training for first responders using numerous input modes including: desktop; touch screen; VR; and Mixed Reality (MR). The final goal of the project is to provide a next generation training tool which can be used to simulate multi-agency training scenarios in events involving fires, terror incidents and cyber-attacks.
On the 3 – 4 May 2017, the AUGGMED project ran a simulated training feature at the Counter Terror Expo. An international selection of attendees signed up to a collaborative training session with the AUGGMED team requiring them to make complex decisions within a potential terror threat scenario. A plethora of data was collected from both guests and trainees which will be used to further enhance knowledge surrounding the field of VR training.
The AUGGMED project generated a interest from across the media including television reports from Sky News and a BBC feature shown on BBC World News, BBC Daily Politics Show, BBC News Technology show and a number of BBC regional news channels.
Please note: Views expressed are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of SHU, C3RI or the C3RI Impact Blog.