Jigsaw is exploring how VR training and performance review can be used to produce better police officers
➨ Jigsaw has developed a VR training solution for law enforcement that has already been tested in police departments located across the US
➨ Trainer combines advances in voice recognition, natural language processing and VR to provide an immersive, realistic environment to train and evaluate officer performance
➨ Jigsaw will now transfer the solution’s underlying technology to a new consortium of academic institutions to conduct further research
Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Google, has developed a virtual reality (VR) training solution for law enforcement that has already been tested in police departments located across the US.
Trainer combines advances in voice recognition, natural language processing and VR to provide law enforcement instructors and criminal justice scholars with an immersive, realistic environment to train and evaluate officer performance.
Jigsaw developed Trainer in partnership with a group of civil society organisations, academics, researchers, civil rights activists, and law enforcement in the US, and will now transfer the solution’s underlying technology to a new consortium of academic institutions, including the Universities of Cincinnati and Maryland, Georgetown University, and Morehouse College, to conduct further research.
Trainer initially focused on whether VR could advance de-escalation training by enhancing communication and critical thinking skills.
The solution delivers interactive scenarios, modelled on everyday police interactions such as domestic disputes or motor vehicle stops, with responsive virtual characters of different races, ages and genders.
Designed to hone officers’ problem-solving skills, virtual characters respond to questions and commands in real time, and their answers change according to the user’s language and behaviour, including body positioning and interaction with objects in the virtual environment. Instructors can observe and evaluate officer performance in scenarios with different contexts and stressors.
Dialogflow, a language processing software, is used as a classifier to take user speech as an input and categorise it based on likely user intent.
Jigsaw says Dialogflow can be expanded to accommodate new language over time, including regionalisms and novel responses, to increase the naturalness and verisimilitude of the interactions. This enabled the Google technology incubator to add new layers of depth to the virtual characters as it tested the system with officers around the US.
‘Nothing studied in a textbook or shown on a screen can compare’
Officers from police departments in Camden County, Jersey City and Stockton were among those involved in user testing and research.
Organisations such as The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the National Action Network provided insight into how histories of police misconduct and past violations of civil rights influence law enforcement training today.
James Shea, Jersey City’s director of public safety, praised the VR training solution in comments made to Jigsaw for a Medium article on Trainer: “The immersive training takes de-escalation tactics to a new level, providing various situations, environments, and emotions, just as our police officers experience every day in every community. Nothing studied in a textbook or shown on a screen can compare to the promise of Jigsaw’s virtual reality training.”
Ebonie Riley, National Action Network’s Washington DC bureau chief, added that she is “proud to have been included in a broad, diverse coalition of advocates, scholars, policy experts, and law enforcement who added input to Jigsaw’s ground-breaking technologies.”
“Jigsaw’s ability to merge technological advancements, cultural dimensions, and implications for civil rights and social justice in a world of growing inequality is the definition of bringing all voices to the table.”