Monday, June 15, 2015

Freight Supply Chain Infrastructure to Benefit from Anti-Terrorist Training

Virtual Reality Programme Funded by EU
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – It is an unfortunate fact of life that terrorism is having to be considered ever more seriously as the 21st century passes and with particular relevance when one considers the importance and vulnerability of certain aspects of pan European transport infrastructure. Airports, ports and railway stations, all vital links in the passenger and freight supply chain, can be subject to attack and now thirteen project partners from six EU countries have joined together to research and develop improved training tools and techniques and further equip security personnel to respond to physical threats and cyber-attacks.

AUGGMED (AUtomated serious Game scenario Generator for MixED reality training), part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, will develop a multimodal virtual reality and mixed reality platform that can be used anywhere via a variety of devices and technologies, from smartphones and tablets to high-end PCs with multiple monitors and HMDs (Head Mounted Displays). The project has secured funding of approximately €5.53 million and will run for three years.

Under the coordination of the BMT Group, AUGGMED aims to develop an innovative, collaborative training platform which will enable police, security forces and counter-terrorist units, as well as first responders, to train their staff in different virtual reality environments within a wide range of scenarios and apply this training in the real infrastructure environment using mixed reality techniques. The platform will also offer tools to allow the trainers to set learning objectives for individuals or teams of trainees and to define scenarios, monitor the progress of the training session, alter parameters during the training session, provide real time feedback and assess the trainee’s performance.

As well as bespoke scenarios, which can be automatically generated to suit the needs of the individual, the platform will be easily accessible whereby a trainee can initiate a training session at a time convenient to them. Training can take place as often as required and trainers will be able to initiate a remote, unplanned session to test the readiness levels of individual members of staff. Christos Giachritsis, Senior Research Scientist at BMT Group Ltd and Project Co-ordinator for AUGGMED comments:

“Terrorism continues to be a major threat to human life and critical infrastructure in Europe. New strategies and execution plans are making it even more difficult for security forces to predict, prepare and defend against such attacks. Training for such critical incidents has, in the past, used traditional methods such as live scenario training through full-scale field exercises but this can be very costly, time-consuming and dangerous. Furthermore, it can only offer a limited number of scenario examples that individually, require major resources to plan and execute.

“It’s vital with any training that it is fit for purpose. It is for this reason that the end users involved in this project including West Yorkshire Police (UK) and Ministry of Citizens Protection (Greece) will play a critical role throughout the development process, providing their knowledge and expertise in relation to the definition of training requirements and subsequent evaluation of the AUGGMED platform.”

Other groups involved in the project include: SERCO; University of Greenwich; Piraeus Port Authority; Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya; University of Birmingham; GEOMOBILE; Sistema D’Emergencies Mediques; Sheffield Hallam University; Israteam; Konstantinos Kardaras (Integration Power) and Unversidad Politécnica de Madrid.