How Singapore is using simulations and robots for police training

By Sean Nolan

Interview with Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ng, Director of the Training & Capability Development Department, Singapore Police Force.

Technology is allowing frontline staff to train in increasingly realistic scenarios. Whether its simulations of fires to evaluate emergency responders, or 3D printed arms for nurses to test medical procedures, training relies on cutting-edge technology.

This is especially the case for law enforcement agencies, who must be ready for life or death situations. Technology plays a key role in this preparedness, helping to create realistic training and enforce the law in the cyber sphere.

Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ng, Director of the Training & Capability Development Department at the Singapore Police Force (SPF) brings us behind the scenes. He shares how data, robots and simulations are helping to create the next generation of police officers.

Boating simulations

SPF will use more data analytics, sensors, AI and automation as part of its mission to develop the next generation police officer. For example, the Police Coast Guard, a division within the police that focus on maritime law enforcement, are using simulators to practice operating police boats.

The technology lets police officers train for different scenarios, for example interacting with a criminal's vessel. It also enables officers to master skills such as controlling the boat and navigating accurately, Ng highlights.

The simulator enables officers to train in a variety of weather conditions. It mirrors how boats behave “when affected by factors such as wave movements or impacts with other crafts and floating objects”, wrote the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX), which develops technology for Singapore’s domestic emergency services.

“Simulations allow our officers to undergo training involving high-consequence and realistic scenarios” but in a safe environment, says Ng. This will boost officer’s confidence as they can better understand the challenging situations which they are expected to take charge of.

Robots and shooting analytics

SPF is also using robots to help officers train for confrontations with perpetrators. For example, robots can act as the perpetrator when officers train to use tasers, instead of having someone in a padded suit, HTX shared.

Using a robot reduces the risk of physical injury for the role player in the padded suit. The technology can provide data about where they were struck by the taser darts, helping officers to improve their accuracy.

Next, officers are training for shooting accuracy with the help of analytics. SPF has set up a firing range fitted with multiple sensors to capture how officers breathe when using a weapon, what their posture is like when firing, and where their eyes are focused, says Ng.

The system analyses this data and then shares it in real-time to improve the officer’s subsequent shots. The firing range automatically calculates scoring and highlights where the targets were hit, informing officers and their trainers of areas for improvement.

A focus on new skills

SPF is looking to train officers in skills that are relevant across Singapore’s public sector, says Ng. These qualities are outlined by the Public Service Division, which oversees training for Singapore’s civil servants.

One key quality is to be a lifelong learner, and SPF provides funds for officers to develop themselves personally and professionally, says Ng. This learning can include taking notes from the private sector, said Leo Yip, Head of Singapore’s Civil Service.

A Singapore police commander spending a year attached to e-commerce company Lazada, is one example of this. Some of the key skills he learned are how to keep customer satisfaction high and how to make quick decisions as a team, GovInsider wrote.

Future police officers must also be prepared to take on more crime fighting in the cyber realm, says Ng. “It is no secret” that financial crimes and transnational cybercrime are the “more challenging law and order issues” that the police will face moving forward, he notes.

Whether it's controlling boats on the high seas, or confronting perpetrators, police officers must use a range of skills to keep the public safe. Simulations, robots and data analytics are enabling officers to develop these skills in realistic and safe environments.