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Dubai Customs reinvents training with VR

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Public Safety | Training/Simulation

5 minutes read

Classroom-based learning is valuable but it’s very difficult to build muscle memory, and to take skills to the next level. And it’s especially tricky in a field like Customs, where Inspectors work in high-pressure situations with unique cases regularly. There’s simply no way to replicate that environment with traditional classroom-based learning of educational text and videos.

Dubai Customs faces a monumental challenge every day, with a team of Inspectors who must spot all manner of anomalies and protect against illegal activities. And they do it against the constantly ticking clock. Dubai Customs operates across all entry points to the country – land, sea, and air, and each of those require different skills, tools, and awareness, including the inherent danger of working at sea, and in busy airports.

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On-the-job training is difficult to plan around because it either requires disrupting passengers and cargo or waiting for the ‘luck’ of discovering something illicit with a trainee present. Inspectors are often put into potentially dangerous situations which are hazardous even for experienced staff, let alone trainees. VR was a natural choice because of how the technology can be used. Scenarios can be built in 3D environments and training programs can be repeated anytime without having to disrupt passengers or cargo.

“Dubai Customs embraced cutting edge VR technology to deliver an engaging learning experience for its customs officer. This sets a new benchmark for customs agencies worldwide and reinforces Dubai’s position as a major hub for innovation,” said Mohammad Alghaffari, Executive Director - HR Division at Dubai Customs.

Alghaffari further noted, “Working together with VRMADA and using VIVE Focus 3 we have built one of the best training programs in the world. With realistic scenarios and tools, our inspectors can virtually practice anytime using real-life situations. Dubai Customs is pushing boundaries, setting new global standards for Customs inspection training as it pursues its mission of facilitating the movement of trade and people while keeping everyone safe.”

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The team regularly faces unique cases, and criminals who are constantly trying to find new ways to sneak their activity through the region. Dubai Customs has always looked to innovate and find new ways to train Inspectors and enhance their skills, turning to VRMADA, with its proven track record of developing training for complex scenarios, and HTC’s VIVE Focus 3. VIVE Focus 3 has a 5K display with 90 Hz refresh rate, meaning organizations can create VR-based scenarios with life-like graphics.

There’s also no limit on the number of Inspectors who can be trained in one classroom. VR solves the problems of time, resource, source material, and delivers real savings and real results. With VR, any time a new illicit activity is discovered, it can be coded into the training programs and rolled out to all employees within hours. Dubai Customs was also looking to support Government targets for reducing carbon emissions, and VR vastly reduced the amount of paper materials being used.

Working closely together, Dubai Customs and VRMADA developed a new world-leading training program. Inspectors examine real-life scenarios from a position of complete safety, honing their skills while building real muscle memory, including using tools in VR.

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Axel Kopprasch, President of VRMADA Middle East, said,” Virtual Reality fundamentally changes the way knowledge is transferred and critical skills are trained and retained. VRMADA developed and deployed a virtual reality solution based on Vive Focus 3 with Dubai Customs that delivers measurable training results, increases engagement of trainees, and optimizes operational cost.”

VR training does not have to disrupt passengers and cargo or re-create scenarios with expensive ‘real-life’ demonstrations for staff to go through, or take real tools out of circulation for training, saving cost and time. Now Inspectors can progress through training quicker and with more confidence as they experience more scenarios, and training is much more engaging which also helps with retention.

VRMADA recreated complex scenarios designed to enhance efficiency and accuracy of Inspectors, with increased knowledge retention. And the team can train large groups at the same time, in a completely safe physical environment. VIVE Focus 3 is built for high-turnover like training, with easy-to-use controls, an easy-to-swap battery, and hygienic face covers which can be changed in seconds. VRMADA had to design the training to be able to handle small classes through to large groups.

Dubai Customs knows that it has no room to make mistakes, which is why it pushes technology to support Inspectors, with VRMADA’s software and HTC’s VIVE Focus 3 delivering a world-class training experience.