Immersion Software Prepares Police for Real-Life Missions

Australia’s Victoria Police agency will use the Hydra-Minerva software system to train officers.

by / January 21, 2014

Officers in Australia’s Victoria Police agency are preparing for real-life missions without setting foot outside headquarters using software that aims to provide immersive training.

The Hydra-Minerva software system uses video and audio feeds, while enabling police officers to reflect on the decision-making process.

“The system allows the agency to place members into realistic simulation of any scenarios, from emergency management, counterterrorism to basic leadership training of handling difficult conversations with staff,” Andrew Rowlands, inspector of promotional programs for the Victoria Police’s School of Policing, told FutureGov.

The project, which cost $1.24 million, was initiated eight months ago. The cost included the building of the facility as well as purchase of IT infrastructure and a consulting and training fee.

Rowlands said the funds and energy spent on the project will be well worth it. “This program will allow us to put our members in an environment where they have to make decisions such as whether or not to evacuate the area, identifying the vulnerable people in the community and how to respond,” Rowlands said.

The first pilot program developed by the police force will simulate a brush fire scenario and be rolled out in April or May. Victoria Police is also looking toward building an interactive program where other organizations the force works with can be integrated into the software.

Law enforcement agencies worldwide have been working to incorporate tech-based training methods for officers. In November, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security gave a live demonstration of its new training system -- a video game for virtual disaster mitigation called the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) system.

The government-owned prototype was built on Unreal Engine, the same platform behind many consumer first-person shooter games. EDGE allows players to control an avatar, navigate terrain and also use vehicles, equipment and tools to apprehend suspects, evacuate bystanders and perform other site-specific actions. The November demonstration was held in Sacramento, Calif., and had law enforcement officers responding to a simulated active-shooter event. If reception of the pilot demonstrations is positive enough, the federal government hopes to make EDGE available for all law enforcement agencies as an online service.