UCL Computer Science


RespondXR: Digital vulnerability of immersive training for first responders

What digital vulnerabilities are likely to emerge from mainstreaming immersive Extended Reality in the training of law enforcement and how might these be overcome?

Virtual reality headset


Lead Institution: UCL

UCL PI: Dr Leonie Tanczer

Academic collaborators: Coventry University, Royal Holloway, University of London, University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh

Industry CollaboratorsSPRITE+

As first responders, police services in England provide immediate assistance at the scene of an emergency with the types of incidents becoming increasingly diverse.

These can include responding to major incidents such as terrorism, public order and cases of domestic abuse, all of which require different policing responses - de-escalation, use of firearms, family liaison and public order responses.

Extended Reality (XR), including both virtual and augmented reality, is used in many sectors for training and operations, with policing providing a strong testbed for understanding the potential of the technology.

One potential area of use is in training scenarios for first responders to prepare them for potentially violent and harrowing incidents.

Another area of growing importance is in preparing officers for responding to major incidents such as a terrorist attack at a multitude of publicly accessible locations.

XR will be increasingly used for virtual recreations of violent or traumatic scenarios, with the intent of enabling responders to psychologically prepare themselves for intervening to these events in reality and improving the effectiveness of their response.

However, in the rush to exploit the benefits of XR for immersive training, many of the potential digital vulnerabilities are yet to be explored. RespondXR will, for the first time, map the vulnerability space of immersive training, from the perspective of:

  • Those delivering the training,
  • The first responders who will be undertaking this training,
  • The technical teams bringing forward new training methodologies in XR.

This project will explore the socio-technical challenges posed by the adoption of this technology, providing the foundations for further research on the safe, secure, and ethical use of immersive training technology for enhancing the response of policing in England.