Virtucom is a windows and mac based software that helps train law enforcement (and other sectors) in effective communication from different real world scenarios.
Fun (but not so fun) fact: Did you know that the average police academy spends 98% of their time training how to use firearms, and 2% in communications? That's where the founder of Virtucom Solutions, a retired police negotatior saw an issue and hired me to help design this new platform.
- Cisco Community Policing Award at the 2017 International Chiefs of Police Conference in Philadelphia
Virtucom is a video training platform application that allows the trainer to select dynamic responses appropriate to the situation. The officer stands at a large screen which projects the scenario and the person responding to them. The key challenge here was speed.
Our challenge was to build a product that can easily be downloaded and distributed in a simple manner for police stations across the country using windows systems. Due to the fact that my team member Dylan Foster and I only have a background in web and mobile applications we decided to build the product using Electron and Emberjs. Our toughest technological challenge was getting an offline mode up and running, since as we learned most police stations have internet incapable of streaming video at the speed required for real life scenario simulations.
Our first beta test with police stations in both Bay Area and Los Angeles yielded some interesting results. Each scenario has four different escelation levels from Passive, Moderate, Aggressive, and Enraged, each yielding up to 10 possible reactions, which can become quite text heavy for the trainer finding the appropriate response. Our initial release was to have a cronological order and swipe left/right to find more responses (the application was built for touch screen systems), however trainers found this to be slow and removed the realism due to lag time for the officer being trained.
Our second attempt was to bring all the responses on the same screen, but highlight the ones already used (even though you can repeat) to help reduce scanning the same responses, we also highlighted trigger words to help the trainer quickly find specific types of responses, and the results were beyond what we were expecting.
With the latest test one of the officers kept interrupting the character on the screen, and the trainer was able to quickly select the response for the character to say: "Would you stop •••••• interrupting me, I'm trying to tell you something!" at that moment the police officer was slightly freaked out and realized...yes these characters respond and it's not a lesson you can BS your way through, at that moment we knew we succeeded in the realism and speed required. Officers must also answer quickly (no time to think) just as if they are out on the field, or the scenario may escelate based on the trainers choice and scenario.
The software is built to be dynamic and fluid with over 40,000 combinations of responses per scenario - it allows for scenarios to be realistic and unpredictable to the officer being trained.