Project

SHOTPROS: A HUMAN FACTORS BASED (VR) TRAINING FRAMEWORK FOR DECISION-MAKING AND ACTING CAPABILITIES UNDER STRESS AND IN HIGH-RISK SITUATIONS FOR EUROPEAN LEAS

Goal: The number of incidents where police officers are first responders in critical situations with severe threat circumstances has drastically increased. A major challenge for these first responding officers is to properly evaluate the situation and decide how to further proceed and to assess and choose the most appropriate strategy. The appropriateness of this decision is highly critical as it has a strong impact on the potential success of the operation as well as on the potential impacts, scene environment (e.g. witnesses, involved civilians, etc.) and consequences.

So the SHOTPROS project aims to investigate the influence of psychological and contextual human factors (HFs) on the behaviour of decision-making and acting (DMA) of police officers under stress and in high-risk operational situations in order to design better training for police officers to improve DMA Performance. SHOTPROS will develop a Virtual Reality (VR) solution to experimentally assess the degree to which these factors influence DMA behaviour. Subsequently the project will develop a HF-rooted training curriculum and a corresponding VR training solution to provide a comprehensive framework for practical training for decision-making and acting under stress and in high-risk (DMA-SR) situations in order to improve performance.The training will increase DMA-SR performance which will lead to better and more correct decisions (from several perspectives, e.g. law, ethic, etc.), to keep the guidance in threatened situations, to minimise use of force occurrences, and accordingly, to maximise the avoidance of casualties and collateral damage, such as panic and cascading or escalating effects.

SHOTPROS involves 6 law enforcement agencies (LEA) as it sees the capabilities of effective, efficient and “correct” DMA-SR of police forces as an utmost important part of a European Security Model and a high need for the daily combat against crime, terrorism, CBRNe threats and radicalisms.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation Programme under grant agreement No 833672.

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Project log

Helmut Schrom-Feiertag
added a research item
Virtual Reality (VR) is increasingly being used in the area of training. Especially for professions where errors can cost human lives, VR simulation training can be valuable. Therefore, VR is very suited to improve CBRNe training. To maximize the effectiveness of VR training, it is imperative that such a CBRNe VR training is introduced and implemented sensibly. Building on data from workshops with police officers, trainers and other experts in policing, this study aimed to conduct a comprehensive SWOT analysis, to uncover the current Strengths and Weaknesses of VR as well as identify potential future Opportunities and Threats to a successful implementation of VR in CBRNe training. Results showed that the strengths of VR for CBRNe training are, amongst others, the ability to realistically simulate dangerous situations that are difficult to organise in real-life, the possibility for trainees to train regularly and at any location, and the fact that trainings can be recorded and comprehensively reviewed with trainees afterwards. Lack of technology acceptance, economic aspects, incomplete requirements and technical limitations are the main weaknesses of VR. This has resulted in the formulation of a set of 10 important guidelines to successfully introduce and implement VR in CBRNe training practices.
Markus Murtinger
added a research item
Virtual Reality (VR) training has become increasingly important for police first responders in recent years. Improving the training experience in such complex contexts requires ecological validity of virtual training. To achieve this, VR systems need to be capable of simulating the complex experiences of police officers ‘in the field.’ Oneway to do this is to add stressors into training simulations to induce stress similar to the stress experienced in real-life situations, particularly in situations where this is difficult (e.g., dangerous or resource-intensive) to achieve with traditional training. To include stressors in VR, this paper thus presents the concept of so-called ‘stress cues’ for operationalizing stressors to augment training in VR simulations for the context of police work. Considering the level of complexity of police work and training, a co-creation process that allows for creative collaboration and mitigation of power imbalances was chosen to access the police officers’ knowledge and experience.We assert that stress cues can improve the training experience from the trainer’s perspective as they provide novel interaction design possibilities for trainers to control the training experience. E.g., by actively intervening in training and dynamically changing the interaction space for trainees which also improves the trainee’s experience. Stress cues can also improve the trainee’s experience by enabling personalizable and customizable training based on real-time stress measurements and supplementing information for improved training feedback.
Markus Murtinger
added an update
SHOTPROS brings end user views, scientific analysis and technology together in one project. Research therefore is an important part of the project – In August 2021 the SHOTPROS project  conducted the 3rd human factors study week at the premises of one of our law enforcement partners, LAFP NRW. Stress and performance of the police officers were measured in real-time while they trained in the current SHOTPROS VR solution.
Stress is an obvious factor in daily police life – therefore a closer assessment on the usage of stress inducing factors within the VR solution is an important part of the project. This study aimed to test the usability of real-time assessment of stress and performance measures and to identify interrelations of psychophysiological stress responses and performance. Furthermore, the research partner University of Heidelberg responsible for this study aimed to identify real-time performance measures that are not directly observable and that are associated with  stress responses and patterns as „warning signal“ for overstress.
During the study, the recovery processes after the scenario (e.g. during the after-action review) was tracked as an indicator of resilience. Following the human-centred research approach in SHOTPROS, quick co-creation workshops with experts on performance measurement in the VR were conducted by the research partner AIT – Center for Technology Experience based on real-time observations of the VR training experience. This contributes to the improvement of the VR system and the procedure for set-up and training.
The outcomes are currently being analysed and will be used to evaluate the utilisation of physiological and performance measures as potential KPIs (Key Performacne Indicators) for the integration into the trainer dashboard and the real-time training progress visualisation of the software. In addition, the co-creation workshop will feed into the agile technical development of the VR system.
 
Laura Voigt
added a research item
Frequent and varied training of police officers is crucial to optimally prepare them for the challenges they face in their police work and allow them to cope with these demands effectively. The Horizon 2020 project "SHOTPROS" aims to develop a training program in Virtual Reality (VR) to train appropriate decision-making and acting capabilities of police officers in high-stress situations. The current COVID-19 pandemic can be considered a prime example of such a high-stress situation. Therefore, the aim of the present article is to re-analyse data from a longitudinal survey among 2567 police officers across Europe, to identify pandemic-related demands experienced by the participating officers during the first COVID-19 lockdown that can be integrated and trained in (virtual) scenario-based training to better prepare police officers for the current and potentially future pandemic outbreaks. Following the constraints-led approach to training, pandemic-related demands are categorized as task, environmental, and individual constraints 1 Authors' 12 to provide police trainers with a toolkit how to change and manipulate training scenarios according to the trainees' needs. Offering high control over training procedures, VR might be an effective tool to incorporate pandemic-related stressors into current training practices.
Laura Voigt
added 2 research items
Purpose: Facing the COVID-19 pandemic, police officers are confronted with various novel challenges, which might place additional strain on officers. This mixed-method study investigated officers' strain over a three-month-period after the lockdown. Methods: In an online survey, 2567 police officers (77% male) from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the Nether- lands, and Spain participated at three measurement points per country in spring, 2020. Three-level growth curve models assessed changes in strain and its relation to stressor appraisal, emotion regulation, and preparedness through training. To add context to the findings, free response answers about officers' main tasks, stressors, and crisis measures were coded inductively. Results: On average, officers seemed to tolerate the pandemic with slight decreases in strain over time. Despite substantial variance between countries, 66% of the variance occurred between individuals. Sex, work experience, stressor appraisal, emotion regulation, and preparedness significantly predicted strain. Risk of infection and deficient communication emerged as main stressors. Officers' reports allowed to derive implications for governmen- tal, organizational, and individual coping strategies during pandemics. Conclusion: Preparing for a pandemic requires three primary paths: 1) enacting unambiguous laws and increasing public compliance through media communication, 2) being logistically prepared, and 3) improving stress regulation skills in police training.
In sports, police service, and military, actors are required to exert peak performance in cognitive and perceptual motor tasks under risky circumstances that are both psychologically and physically challenging. Those situations, that are often characterized by a threat to physical integrity, trigger psychophysiological stress reactions which can impair motor performance (Nieuwenhuys, & Oudejans, 2017; Giessing, Frenkel, Zinner, Rummel, Nieuwenhuys, Kasperk et al, 2019). To date, laboratory studies only investigated the effects of stress and physical load on the performance in perceptual-motor and cognitive tasks separately. Hence, the present study examines the interaction effects of both factors on shooting performance in a standardized paintball game situation. Sixteen male paintball league players underwent a standardized game situation that included various cognitive and perceptual-motor tasks (e.g., shooting on static and dynamic targets, fine-motor reloading of the gun) in two conditions, “low stress” (LS) and “high stress” (HS). In the HS condition, a confederate opponent shot back at the participant using paint balls. Physical stress is manipulated as a between-subject factor through a physical exertion task (Wingate test) before entering the game situation. Physiological (heart rate variability) and psychological (anxiety, mental effort) variables were measured repeatedly before and after the game situation. Behavioral measures of performance are captured for all tasks in the obstacle course. Both low and high stress scenarios elicited comparable increases in anxiety and mental effort with paintball players under high physical stress reporting more anxiety and mental effort. 2 × 2 ANOVAs revealed no significant main or interaction effects for the performance parameters, except that all paintball players hit the dynamic target faster in the high stress game situation. Surprisingly, the results show that physical load/stress increase anxiety and mental effort in psychologically challenging situations, without further impairing performance. Funding source: European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (Grant Agreement No 833672).
Markus Murtinger
added a research item
One of the most relevant differences between User Experience (UX) research and market research for us is the creative involvement of the participants in the design of the study settings. UX research is usually the beginning of a user centered innovation approach and provides essential inputs to the future design process. CoCreation methods are an essential part of this research phase to collect sticky information, to uncover user needs & ideas and to consider these results in the further creative process. Co-Creation can be considered to be a subset or contemporary form of Participatory Design (PD) while using tools and techniques that engender people’s creativity, which is in part motivated by a belief in the value of democracy to civic, educational, and commercial settings. New technologies make it possible to reduce the cost of carrying out CoCreation and, moreover, they offer easy access for a broad group of users for collaboration. The focus is particularly on virtual and augmented reality technologies for the implementation of these studies and these technologies provides new possibilities to transform CoCreation into an engaging digital playground for serious collaboration. For example, participants could meet from any point in the world in a virtual workshop setting and work together on topics. Enhanced interaction methods combined with simulation or AI empower non-experts to work on a professional design level for resolving complex challenges. Furthermore, the results of the CoCreation process is immediately available and editable in the virtual world and could be shared on the internet for widespread user involvement. We will present innovative approaches from ongoing research projects and how virtual CoCreation methods could be used and what we can expect from the future technologies and possibilities. On the one hand we will introduce our H2020 Research Project SHOTPROS and the involvement of Law Enforcement Agencies in the user centered design process. And on the other hand, we will show ideas and approaches with virtual reality in the domain of architecture and urban planning. Especially VR for participatory planning offer a completely new medium to walk through virtual worlds providing a high level of immersion and presence. This will completely change participation: Citizens no longer look at content but become part of the virtual world which is perceived as real and enable people to interact with and feel connected to the world.
Laura Voigt
added a research item
On duty, police officers are exposed to a variety of acute, threatening stress situations and organizational demands. In line with the allostatic load model, the resulting acute and chronic stress might have tremendous consequences for police officers' work performance and psychological and physical health. To date, limited research has been conducted into the underlying biological, dynamic mechanisms of stress in police service. Therefore, this ecological momentary assessment study examined the associations of stress, mood and biological stress markers of a 28-year-old male police officer in a N-of-1 study over three weeks (90 data points). Four times a day (directly after waking up, 30 minutes later, 6 hours later, before going to bed), he answered questions about the perceived stress and mood using a smartphone application. With each data entry, he collected saliva samples for the later assessment of salivary cortisol (sCort) and alpha-amylase (sAA). In addition, data was collected after six police incidents during duty. sCort and sAA were not related to perceived stress in daily life and did not increase in police incidents. Regarding mood measures, deterioration of calmness, but not valence and energy was associated with perceived stress. The results suggest continued police service to constitute a major chronic stressor resulting in an inability to mount a proper response to further acute stress. As an indicator of allostatic load, psychological and biological hyporesponsivity in moments of stress may have negative consequences for police officers' health and behavior in critical situations that require optimal performance. Prospectively, this research design may also become relevant when evaluating the efficacy of individualized stress management interventions in police training.
Markus Murtinger
added a project goal
The number of incidents where police officers are first responders in critical situations with severe threat circumstances has drastically increased. A major challenge for these first responding officers is to properly evaluate the situation and decide how to further proceed and to assess and choose the most appropriate strategy. The appropriateness of this decision is highly critical as it has a strong impact on the potential success of the operation as well as on the potential impacts, scene environment (e.g. witnesses, involved civilians, etc.) and consequences.
So the SHOTPROS project aims to investigate the influence of psychological and contextual human factors (HFs) on the behaviour of decision-making and acting (DMA) of police officers under stress and in high-risk operational situations in order to design better training for police officers to improve DMA Performance. SHOTPROS will develop a Virtual Reality (VR) solution to experimentally assess the degree to which these factors influence DMA behaviour. Subsequently the project will develop a HF-rooted training curriculum and a corresponding VR training solution to provide a comprehensive framework for practical training for decision-making and acting under stress and in high-risk (DMA-SR) situations in order to improve performance.The training will increase DMA-SR performance which will lead to better and more correct decisions (from several perspectives, e.g. law, ethic, etc.), to keep the guidance in threatened situations, to minimise use of force occurrences, and accordingly, to maximise the avoidance of casualties and collateral damage, such as panic and cascading or escalating effects.
SHOTPROS involves 6 law enforcement agencies (LEA) as it sees the capabilities of effective, efficient and “correct” DMA-SR of police forces as an utmost important part of a European Security Model and a high need for the daily combat against crime, terrorism, CBRNe threats and radicalisms.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation Programme under grant agreement No 833672.