The National Environment Agency (NEA) has called a tender for Virtual Reality (VR) solutions to enhance the training and assessment of NEA enforcement officers involved in dengue inspections, and enforcement of other public health offences such as smoking in prohibited areas and littering in public places.

NEA had conducted several proof-of-concept (POC) trials between January to March 2019 of using VR to assess and enhance our officers’ engagement with residents during dengue home inspections. The results from the POC trials have been promising, and our officers have found that tapping on the use of VR augments their classroom training well. In October 2018, NEA had also conducted similar POC trials for training of our enforcement officers, and found that it provided a safe simulated environment for officers to practise enforcement engagement strategies for different littering enforcement scenarios.

In each VR environment, officers will have to engage and interact with (i) avatars (who represent home owners, or smoking/ littering offenders); and (ii) virtual objects (e.g. pails, containers, empty vials and seals for collecting evidence of breeding). The VR system is enabled by speech recognition capabilities, and contains a series of scenarios with home owners or offenders, which are carefully curated and developed by NEA based on real-life incidents that have happened in the past. Spatial audio will also be introduced in the VR system to mimic the surroundings and atmosphere in real life, and enhance the virtual experience for our officers. [Refer to here for more information on the different types of environment and sample images.]

Currently, NEA officers are trained in simulated scenarios in classroom settings, and they learn how to deal with different situations posed by members of the public through these simulated scenarios. The implementation of the VR is not intended to fully replace the simulated scenarios that they currently undergo in their training sessions. Rather, the use of VR would supplement the training of our NEA officers, and better prepares them for the different scenarios that are not so easily replicated in real life in a classroom setting, or in scenarios that could be more risky (e.g. checking rooftops or inspections at construction sites).

In addition, NEA enforcement officers might also face uncooperative offenders in their daily enforcement rounds. The VR system will enable officers to experience a series of enforcement scenarios, such as when the offender refuses to provide his/ her particulars, or when the offender abuses or attempts to assault our officers.

Chief Executive Officer of NEA, Mr Tan Meng Dui said,

“NEA is taking VR technology further by implementing it in our officers’ training for two large enforcement areas in NEA – dengue home inspections and enforcement of other public health offences, such as smoking and littering. These areas collectively form about 95% of all enforcement work in NEA. 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 tender is open from 11 February to 9 March 2020. NEA will be implementing the VR system sometime in Q3 2020 after careful evaluation and assessment of the qualifying applications.

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