Electronic simulators have been used for pilot training in aviation for many years. Recently, this type of simulator has also been developed for tractors, cranes and war tanks. With the advancement in voice and 3D image recognition technologies, simulators are now starting to be used in the field of security, in the training of guards and police. Interactively, with projection of images and sound, the system trains the user in the progressive use of force, in which shooting a gun is the last resort, and a correct initial interaction with assailants is essential. The system, which at times looks more like a video game, is now available in Brazil. The Brazilian company, Cientistas Desenvolvimento Tecnológico, in São Carlos, São Paulo, made its first large sale of the simulator in 2014. Brink’s, a multinational in the field of money transport, operating in more than 100 countries—it has 8,000 employees and 63 branches in Brazil—purchased eight units. The company sold its first two simulators, also in 2014, to a company that trains guards in Belém, Pará State.
Called Interactive Security Training (IST), the system consists of software, a motion sensor, wireless microphones, laser transmitters, image capturing cameras, speakers and projectors. Similar devices exist in other countries and the innovations introduced by Cientistas, which filed two patents with the Brazilian Industrial Property Institute (INPI), are related to the system for recognizing the trainee’s voice and body movements. “We began developing IST in 2003, with a PIPE (Innovative Research in Small Businesses Program) project proposal that was approved in 2002 for R$62,000,” says Antônio Valério Netto, a partner in the company Cientistas, which was established in 2003 to carry out this PIPE project. Then, between 2007 and 2009, the company received more funding, R$500,000, this time from FINEP (the Brazilian Innovation Agency) under the Economic Subsidy program. Netto, whose completed his undergraduate degree in Computer Science at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) and his master’s and PhD at the University of São Paulo (USP), reports that a great deal of persistence was needed to arrive at the final product in 2011.
“With technological advances and price reductions we were able to assemble the system. In 2012 we created a strong sales campaign to focus on security companies and private and public security entities,” says Netto. Although some civilian and municipal police departments and security companies in the state of São Paulo liked the system, the first sales came only in 2014. In addition to the eight already purchased, Brink’s has made a commitment to purchase two more in 2015 and another two in 2016.
Brink’s has already been using simulators in the United States— where its headquarters is located— Mexico and Chile, and was studying the use of an appropriate system for its activities in Brazil. It had searched for systems from other countries, but their components were not integrated. “The system produced here is a unique and more resistant device, which will make it easier to transport between branches, in addition to providing technical support in Brazil,” says Rosana Alcine, training and development manager at Brink’s. The company first tested the system and then approved it for purchase. In operational use at the company since April 2014, the simulator has already provided benefits. According to Alcine, some improvements have been seen, such as the guards’ enhanced posture in what is called “force of presence.” Performance in the simulator improved live shooting training conducted outside the company in a suitable location, and gave the professionals more confidence. “With respect to the professional performance of a group of guards that we analyzed, their shooting accuracy improved 18%, in addition to their improved perception,” says Alcine.
Among the advantages cited by the company are the reduction in the time spent at the real shooting range, the increased number of training hours and the variety of scenarios produced. The professional’s role in the simulator is to increase her perception and react appropriately to different attack situations, focusing only on people who represent risks. After the simulation, an instructor shows the individual her results and analyzes the points that could be improved, and the guard does the exercise again. The guard’s voice is also analyzed—if it is strong and assertive, it will affect the behavior of the virtual actors. Similarly, the guard’s body movements are analyzed by the system, which reacts according to the information processed. If the correct parameters for approach are not complied with in the simulation, the guard can be “virtually” hit by a gunshot.
In addition to better training for employees, the company has reduced the need to transport them to shooting ranges, thus decreasing expenses for overtime and transport. Thus, training with the simulator takes place at Brink’s headquarters and complements practical training. Costs have also been cut due to a 50% reduction in the use of ammunition at the shooting range. Each shot costs R$2.00. To operate, the portable system needs only a room with white walls and electricity. The equipment’s development, notes Netto, was based on the analysis of several documents on security and working with specialists who gave feedback after seeing the system in operation. “I began with a system that solely provided shooting practice and then moved towards a more modern, advanced system that focuses on approaches used by security professionals,” says Netto. He has already presented the equipment, which costs around R$70,000, to various municipal police departments, and they expressed interest, but local governments claim that the federal and state governments do not provide them with enough resources to make a purchase.
Training system in the area of security (No. 02/12914-2); Innovative Research in Small Businesses Program (PIPE); Principal investigator Antonio Valério Netto (Cientistas); Investment R$62,789.15 (FAPESP).