POLICE VR TRAINING
HOMAGE TO HUMANITY
The right step to mitigating ethnic profiling.
VR training to bring awareness to this sensitive issue and make it discussable.
An immersive experience merging the book “Homage to Humanity” with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
In society, more and more attention has been directed towards discrimination, something that also occurs within the police force. In the police force, this is called ethnic profiling. The police force has been trying to tackle this issue for several years but unfortunately without much success. To mitigate ethnic profiling, police need to be aware of it and understand this reoccurring issue.
It has been difficult to establish the right balance between learning about ethnic profiling and applying it in practice in a way that works for police officers. This is why the police have joined forces with Scopic and Fonk to develop a digital product that integrates well into police culture as well as appeals to the police officers.
Ethnic profiling is a difficult topic to discuss as it is quite often done subconsciously and not always intentional, therefore, it is difficult to point fingers. In addition to this, it often occurs in many different situations such as when police officers are required to respond quickly. Learning this concept in a classroom has shown to be ineffective, thus a solution to this issue is the use of VR simulation. By placing people in a realistic VR simulation, we can record their natural, intrinsic responses and discuss their choices and reactions afterwards. This is the first step towards raising awareness and shedding light on ethnic profiling.
What makes it unique?
• It is accessible for all types of users, including computer illiterate individuals.
• Shows users what their natural responses to certain situations are. As a result, participants can take responsibility for and be aware of their actions.
• It invites and encourages users to reflect on their choices.
• It is a balance between learning and practice.
Within the VR experience, we will take our time to prepare the users for the experience. A part of preparation will include allowing the users to try on and get used to the Oculus GO glasses, a debrief about what the experience will entail, and a chance to explore the interaction possibilities as well as strengthen the identification with their virtual self. This will allow users to be able to fully focus on the main experience and the choices they will make once it begins.
During the VR experience, the users will be confronted with multiple-choice questions. They will begin by observing a public space and choosing a person who they find abnormal and/or suspicious enough to address. During the conversation that follows between the participant and the chosen suspect, the participant must decide under time pressure how they will proceed. In this way, they form their own branching story based off of their decisions, which has the possibility to run and end in multiple ways.
At the end of the VR experience, users are shown a specific code. The code will show the instructor or colleague the choices the participants have made. This initiates the reflection process between each other in the follow-up discussion. They will be able to ask each other questions on the decisions they made, on why they made those decisions, and if there were alternatives to those decisions.
Where is it used?
The content has been specifically developed for 30 Oculus glasses which has now been distributed in three locations: The Center for Integrated Professional Training (IBT) Amsterdam, the police academy in Rotterdam, and soon also Apeldoorn. There will also be 1-on-1 training sessions throughout the Netherlands on request.
During a police innovation congress in Ede (January 2020), police officers (executive and non-executive staff) participated in an interactive VR film simulation individually and then discussed their observations and choices in a plenary session.
A scientific publication with results will be published shortly
University of Twente
The University of Twente is also investigating the effect of this type of training. This
specifically examines whether the predetermined goals of the project have been achieved.
In other words, if the VR experience has contributed to:
• more knowledge about ethnic profiling and the prevention of it
• a (more) positive attitude with discussing and combating it
• improved dialogue surrounding ethnic profiling and a safe working environment.
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• The participants who were given the combination of training, VR film simulation and the interview had an average score of 8.0 (in a scale up to 10) afterwards.
• Participants were able to reflect more about each other’s choices due to each participant beginning at the same starting point. This made the discussions more
structured due to the pre-prepared script.
• Many reported that the lifelike experience seemed to have a beneficial effect on
the willingness to discuss the choices with each other after the simulation. It made the conversation feel less forced and more “therapeutic”, as some described it.
• An additional insight was that a small group of police officers illegally asked for identification from people within the simulation, therefore an unauthorized use of their power. This is a way in which this platform can help towards mitigating other issues and finding other areas which lack within the police force.
A clear segment has been identified that requires more insight into the problem, and we are
going to create further education for this together in cooperation with the police force.
This year it will be offered nationwide within the Netherlands. We have also seen a lot of interest and enthusiasm from other police forces from abroad such as Germany and Austria.
Thanks to the developed game engine and underlying principles of the experience, new
content can easily be integrated. For this, only the VR movie content and the game design
will need to be replaced. This will also make the experience useful in other work environments and cultures.