SINGAPORE: A new Home Team Simulation Centre that trains commanders in incident management and operational decision-making was launched by Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam on Monday (May 21).
The centre houses a system that simulates emergency and crisis scenarios in a mock command centre through 3D representations of real scenarios.
“The simulation will get the officers in-sync, and give them a hands-on feel as well as a relevance of command skills,” said Mr Shanmugam at the Home Team Academy (HTA) workplan seminar.
“We will aim to strengthen the Home Team integration based on common values and a shared mission, and the academy has a key role in that,” he added.
Benefits of the simulator include manpower savings and increased training frequency, as it can mirror logistically intensive large-scale training exercises that come with deployment constraints.
The simulator can create 15 different scenarios while introducing new elements to make exercises realistic and unpredictable. These include variables like bombs and protestors, aimed at placing commanders under stress.
The scenarios also evolve based on commanders’ decisions.
One scenario is a chemical agent attack during year-end celebrations at Orchard Road, complete with bombs and protestors.
“New scenarios can be added to prepare Home Team commanders for new and evolving emergencies and security threats,” the Home Team said.
The simulator currently focuses on four locations: Bishan, Little India, Marina Bay Sands and Orchard Road, with future plans to include other areas.
Staying with the theme of integration and consistency in training, Mr Shanmugam said HTA will roll out a mobile application that lets officers access e-learning courseware on the go.
The content in the app is customised for sharing across the HTDs, which ensures greater consistency of learning.
“Currently, Home Team officers access e-learning through the Home Team Learning Management System (HTLMS) using their office desktops,” Home Team said.
“As most frontline officers are often required to perform operational duties away from their desks, officers found it challenging to find time to access the HTLMS.”
Officers can use the app for greater accessibility and to learn at a more comfortable pace. The app caters to different learning needs by incorporating images, videos, podcasts and quizzes.
In addition, the app improves learning by giving officers a headstart even before they enter formal training classes.
HTA has started Proof-of-Concept trials with all HTDs by developing e-learning courseware on mobile learning applications.
TRAINING ON THE GO
HTA is also piloting a Training-on-the-Go (TANGO) system that allows any location to be turned into a classroom, giving frontline officers more flexibility in their training.
TANGO comprises three components: Virtual Classroom Management System (VCMS), Vertical-MINI and Webinar.
The VCMS is equipped with instant messaging and screen sharing to allow officers to collaborate and exchange knowledge, while Vertical-MINI can transform any surface into an interactive board for classroom training. Webinar allows presentations to be conducted over the Internet, enabling officers in different locations to participate remotely.
The Home Team School of Criminal Investigation and the Home Team Behavioural Sciences Unit is currently trying out TANGO.
Beyond tighter integration among the Home Team units, Mr Shanmugam stressed the need to develop the officers through continuous skills and academic upgrading.
To that end, Mr Shanmugam said HTA is working with SkillsFuture Singapore and institutes of higher learning to train officers in tradecraft and cross-cutting skills.
Tradecraft skills include investigation skills and emergency medical services, while cross-cutting skills include data analytics and cybersecurity.
Officers will take relevant courses depending on their job requirements at different points in their career.
“As long as our officers are willing to put in the effort, we will support you on this journey (to) get better skills, capabilities,” Mr Shanmugam said.
In terms of academics, HTA is working with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to accredit its courses and allow officers to earn up to 40 SUSS degree credits upon completing the courses as part of their training.
The credits can be accumulated towards a Certificate in Home Team Studies conferred by SUSS, which is slated to be rolled out from January 2020. These credits can also count towards SUSS degree requirements.
“We will seek to roll out more of such courses or credits so that our officers can work towards a degree,” Mr Shanmugam said. “We will try to open up the pathway as much as possible, for as many officers as possible.”
In addition, HTA has launched a new Home Team foundation course for all senior uniformed and civilian officers.
The course, a two-week residential programme, aims to foster a strong identity among Home Team officers through shared experiences, experiential elements and learning visits, Home Team said.
The course aims to “build strong bonds across the Home Team, with a common understanding of our heritage and culture”, Mr Shanmugam said.
Additional reporting by Tan Si Hui