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NEA calls tender for virtual reality solutions to enhance training for officers

SINGAPORE - 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 demonstrated on Monday (Feb 10), 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 homeowners 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, 32, a senior executive at the NEA's Vector Control Section, which deals with pests that transmit diseases, said that 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 the classroom training could not cover because of time and manpower constraints," he said.

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

The NEA also 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 NEA, said NEA chief executive officer Tan Meng Dui.

Vector Control Section senior executive Aaron Ng demonstrates the use of virtual reality gear at the Environment Building on Feb 10, 2020.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

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 on the technology such as VR for the training of our enforcement officers is part of this strategy."

The NEA intends to implement its VR training system sometime between July and September this year. The deadline for the tender is March 9.

Source : Straits Times


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