NEA calls tender for VR solutions to train enforcement officers

Mr Aaron Ng, a senior executive at NEA's Vector Control Section, demonstrating the use of VR gear in a dengue home inspection scenario. He said the virtual reality training module would help officers experience more scenarios and hone their reaction
Mr Aaron Ng, a senior executive at NEA's Vector Control Section, demonstrating the use of VR gear in a dengue home inspection scenario. He said the virtual reality training module would help officers experience more scenarios and hone their reaction skills.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has called a tender for virtual reality (VR) solutions to enhance training sessions for its enforcement officers in areas such as dengue inspections and enforcement of offences such as smoking and littering.

In a dengue home inspection VR scenario on Monday, the media saw how real-life situations are simulated for the training of NEA officers.

A residence, complete with pails and covered containers, and avatars representing home owners give the user a sense of realism.

The user can be taken through a range of scenarios, while the system's speech recognition capabilities allow role-playing and the practice of appropriate responses and reactions to these situations.

The VR solution will be in addition to existing training programmes, which include a three-pronged approach of theory lessons, classroom simulations and on-the-job training.

Mr Aaron Ng, a senior executive at NEA's Vector Control Section which deals with pests that transmit diseases, said the virtual reality training module would help officers experience more scenarios and hone their reaction skills.

"Officers can now be exposed to more live situations on the ground that classroom training could not cover because of time and manpower constraints,"said Mr Ng, 32.

Scenarios that are difficult to replicate could also be included in the VR training programme, such as rooftop inspections.

NEA hopes to develop VR environments for other public health offences like smoking and littering. Through different scenarios, they hope to expose enforcement officers to challenging situations, such as non-compliant offenders, for example.

Dengue home inspections and dealing with public health offences such as smoking and littering collectively form about 95 per cent of all enforcement work in the agency, said NEA chief executive Tan Meng Dui.

TAPPING TECHNOLOGY

To ensure that our officers are well equipped to deal with the challenges of tomorrow, skills-upgrading and enhancing productivity are important aspects of our strategy to make NEA a change-responsive and future-ready organisation. Tapping technology such as VR for the training of our enforcement officers is part of this strategy.

NEA CHIEF EXECUTIVE TAN MENG DUI, on adding VR solutions to existing training sessions for enforcement officers.

He added: "To ensure that our officers are well equipped to deal with the challenges of tomorrow, skills-upgrading and enhancing productivity are important aspects of our strategy to make NEA a change-responsive and future-ready organisation. Tapping technology such as VR for the training of our enforcement officers is part of this strategy."

NEA intends to implement its VR training system some time between July to September. The deadline for the tender is March 9.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2020, with the headline 'NEA calls tender for VR solutions to train enforcement officers'. Print Edition | Subscribe