Jason Jerald, CEO, NextGen InteractionsMILITARY / GOVT / NONPROFIT
First Responders (police, officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services) face significant challenges where the consequences of critical incidents are high, but real-world experience of the most dangerous situations are rare. Traditional classroom settings are not always sufficient for their training needs and learning how to deal with unforeseen incidents can be especially daunting due to their complex and varied nature. Whereas visual and auditory components (e.g., video and e-learning) are common for some of their training , fully experiential training in the context of dangerous incidents is rare and more expensive. VR has the potential to solve many of these challenges, yet just using the technology does not guarantee success. Working with subject-matter experts and iterating based on feedback is essential to success.
Over the last four years, we obtained input from over 50 first responders through one-on-one discussions, focus groups, questionnaires, and feedback on VR scenarios that we built. In this talk, we 1) describe training challenges we elicited from first responders, 2) review public safety VR experiences, 3) discuss feedback we received, 4) discuss how we iterated, and 5) identify core concepts of how we believe VR can best fit (and not fit) serious VR play.
Although the talk is focused on first responders, the material is meant to serve as examples where the lessons learned can apply to other educational domains. The audience will gain insight into what types of use cases are ideal fits for VR as well as where VR may not be appropriate. Attendees will appreciate how important it is to work closely with subject-matter experts to understand actual needs that should drive design and implementation. They will also understand how continual iteration is essential to make experiences effective. The talk will conclude with actionable steps for attendees to identify project needs in collaboration with partners and clients. We will provide free access to a whitepaper summarizing our work with first responders over the last four years (work funded by NIST PSCR–National Institute of Standards and Technology Public Safety Communications Research). The white paper will be closely aligned with the talk and will include actionable suggestions for designing and developing VR simulation and training applications.