Market Outlook for Simulation-Based Training #3

Michael Filimowicz, PhD
Jan 15 · 17 min read
Photo by Harsch Shivam from Pexels

Back to Part 2.

Excerpt from a report provided by OVG Consulting to Pixelphonic Systems Ltd. Funded by the National Research Council.


General Overview of Police Training Simulators

The history of using the simulation training technology by police force (law enforcement) can be dated back to 1973 when Los Angeles Police Department first announced launch of the firearms training simulator at its police academy facility in the city’s Elysian Park.

In the mid-‘90s new training came into play that used video scenarios on a big screen and you would have to interact with it (MILO | FATS). Those scenarios were not very interactive with the law enforcement officer being trained, because the people in the video didn’t respond appropriately to the commands that were being given out. Virtual reality changed it. With the advent of virtual reality goggles, virtual reality training has taken off in law enforcement training. The technology comes from the gaming industry. The vendors that develop the training programs are all mostly current or previous gamers. The scenarios are typically set in 360-degree photos of actual locations, such as schools or city halls that you would really respond to, which makes the situation very realistic.

Virtra 300 wraparound simulator to improve shooting and judgment skills.

Virtual reality simulators serve several purposes for the police force.

● Budget: reduce the travel costs, facility and ammo expense, and instructor fees associated with live training and support. Although the initial cost can be significant to a department, simulators significantly cut the overall costs for training long term.

● Improved skills: essential training, especially marksmanship training, is typically conducted live a few times a year resulting in diminished shooting skills. Simulators fill that gap by allowing departments year-round access to realistic shooting programs that keep their officers proficient.

● Reduces officer risk and agency liability. Distributed workforces can be trained to perform complex tasks with less risk to staff or equipment. One of the biggest improvements is the reduction in lawsuits.

There are four major types of simulation training for police officer:

Driving: various scenarios allow trainees practise dangerous police-driving manoeuvres in a risk-free environment. The simulators can be customized to feature adverse driving situations and extreme traffic conditions.

Shooting: synthetic firing ranges are becoming necessary facilities for police force training.

Situational judgement: video-based synthetic situations immerse trainees into real-world settings, using critical thinking skills to manage risks while under stress. The simulator provides the opportunity to experience a taste of that stress, in the most controlled environment possible.

Terrorism: this is the most recent addition to the police force training scope. With the number of terrorist-related incidents increasing, and the method of attacks evolving, regular proactive training that responds to these changing threats is becoming a necessity. Virtual reality provides a cost-effective and rapid training solution.

Training of police officers is performed in the structured educational institutions (Police academies), as well as onsite (police agencies); both of these locations use simulation technology. Hence, the assessment of police simulation training technology covers police agencies and police training institutions.


Overview of Policing Authorities in Canada

Policing in Canada is administered on 3 levels: municipal, provincial, and federal services. Each province has its own distribution of policing authority. Provinces without a provincial service have these duties provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which is the federal authority.

There are 706 RCMP detachments, 148 stand-alone municipal police services and 36 First Nations (self-administered services created under agreements with the federal, provincial, and territorial governments along with the communities looking to administer their own police service). The summary of all levels of policing in Canada is in the table below.

The police force in Canada is sustained on a stable level with the ratio of over 200 police officer per 10,000 of population. Reported by Statistics Canada, the number of police offers continues to grow, as shown in Figure 23: Historical Police Force in Canada and Expected Future Trend, 1962 - 2030. It is highly likely that an overall growing trend in the number of police officers will continue supporting investing into police training.

Historical Police Force in Canada and Expected Future Trend, 1962–2030

Police Simulation Training Facilities

Police training in Canada is realized mainly through Police Academies, some of which offer both recruit and in-service type training for sworn police officers currently employed in public police services. There are seven federal and provincial academies in Canada, out of which only three offer simulation training experience.

Justice Institute of British Columbia, New Westminster, BC
JIBC offers the Dr. Donald B. Rix Public Safety Simulation Building and the award-winning Praxis computer simulation technology. Using these and other resources, JIBC incorporates immersive, interactive, problem-based experiential computer simulation scenarios for programs and courses across the Institute, as well as in customized contract training. JIBC has worked with government agencies and private industry to produce simulation scenarios of catastrophic events and critical incidents. The building includes six specially designed and equipped rooms adjoining a central meeting room with large screens for projection of information, plus a control room that digitally monitors and directs the delivery of simulations.

Holland College , Charlottetown, PEI

In association with Holland College, the Canadian Centre of Public Safety Excellence offers five programs: Basic Firefighting, Conservation Enforcement, Correctional Officer, Police Science (Cadet), and Sheriff and Public Safety Officer.

Canadian Centre of Public Safety Excellence boasts Use of Force simulator, from Ti Training Corp. The system provides in excess of 650 interactive training scenarios from Active Shooter to routine patrol calls, for police, corrections, sheriff’s and conservation officers. The system interacts with baton, OC spray, Taser©, pistol and carbine allowing the participant to experience real life training situations, including a shoot back option, when called for. With a scenario playback option, the trainer is able to review with the participant, their performance including the placements of weapons on target, body language, voice commands, and reactions to the video.

Driving Simulator: six monitors provide 360 degrees of graphics and visibility, and combined with surround sound, an interactive driver’s seat and console, the user will experience as real to life experience as possible.

RCMP Training Academy, Regina, SK

In addition to training new RCMP regular members, Depot has also been a major continuing-education centre for police in Canada. It delivers updated and highly specialized training to experienced RCMP officers and to members of other forces from around the world. Many Canadian municipal and provincial police forces hire police officers who graduated from the RCMP Academy. Its Technology Support Services have added several simulations and synthetic (virtual) environments:

● Situational judgement: in 2010, new judgement rooms were constructed to exercise firearms and police defensive tactics by inserting them into video-based synthetic situations.

● Driving: in 2011, eight driving simulators were installed to expose cadets to various scenarios and allow them to practise dangerous police-driving manoeuvres under adverse driving situations and extreme traffic conditions.

● Shooting: two synthetic firing ranges were constructed, one in 2010 and one in 2014. Each range consists of 16 virtual lanes of fire that accurately represent live-fire lanes.

Saskatchewan Police College, Regina, SK

Offers training and continuing education for public officers in policing, community safety and enforcement for the province.

Ontario Police College, Aylmer West ON

One of the largest police training facilities in North America with over 8,000 recruits, police officers, and civilian personnel attending the College each year.

École nationale de police du Québec, Nicolet, QC

Canadian Police College, Ottawa, ON and Chilliwack, BC
Canadian government institution which offers continuing-education courses for currently employed police officers, the college is a national police service of the RCMP.

The survey conducted by the Canadian Police College (CPC) in 2003 examined how simulator systems were used by the Canadian police community. Questionnaires were distributed to 69 police agencies of which 61 responded. Of these 61 agencies, 32 had access to a simulator, with an additional 10 agencies reporting that they planned to start using a simulator in the next year.

Forecast of Canadian Police Simulators


To develop the future projections for police simulators in Canada, the Consultant assumes the following:

● The total number of simulators used by 61 surveyed police agencies was 42 in 2004, which constitutes 69%; this percentage is applied to calculate the total number of simulators used by all police agencies at the beginning of the forecast period.

● By the end of the forecast period, 100% of all municipal and RCMP agencies will have at least one simulator.

● The total number of municipal and police agencies will increase from 854 in 2018 at a half rate of the police force growth over the same period of time in the past, total equivalent to 0.5% annual.

● All seven police training academies will have at least 3 simulators by the end of the forecast period.

The results of the calculations are shown in Figure 24: Forecast of Police Simulators in Canada. As expected, the total number of simulators in agencies and academies will be close to 900 by year 2030.

Forecast of Police Simulators in Canada


According to the data reported by the U.S. Department of Justice, the police force in the USA has been growing at a steady pace between 1992 and 2012. The number of police officer per 100,000 of population, however has been dropping since 2007 from 364 to 343, which means that the police force cannot grow at the same rate as population. This is also aggravated by a slight decrease of 1.8% in the total number of officers between 2009 and 2014. Number of police agencies also has been on an uptake, growing from 14.7K in 1992 to 17.4 in 2012. The historical data and projected trend are shown in Figure 25: Historical Police Force and Police Agencies in the USA and Projected Future Trend, 1992–2030.

Historical Police Force and Police Agencies in the USA and Projected Future Trend, 1992–2030

Policing in the United States is conducted by federal, state, local and city departments. Every state has its own nomenclature for agencies, and their powers, responsibilities and funding varying from state to state.

Police in the USA has been under a severe scrutiny by the public recently. One of the key issues the US police has been facing is damage to its public image caused by multiple police shooting at civilians, sometimes unarmed. Rates of fatal police shootings in the U.S. are among the highest of any other developed country, with about 1,000 civilians killed each year. This data comes from the Washington Post’s “Fatal Force Database,” which tis typically used by researchers:

● 2015: 995 civilians were shot by American police;

● 2016: 963 civilians were shot by American police;

● 2017: 987 civilians were shot by American police.

In same places, the situation got so serious, that local lawmakers are establishing rules for police to have simulator training in de-escalation. Thus, in March 2016, Utah passed a bill that explicitly authorizes the attorney general to fund and support a statewide virtual reality training center for use of force and de-escalation policies for agencies across the region.

Training centers across the US are now using virtual reality to train officers to shoot more accurately — and also help them to decide whether to shoot at all.

Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers
On Federal level, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC), a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), serves as an interagency law enforcement training organization for 95 Federal agencies. headquartered in Glynco, Georgia, near the port city of Brunswick, the FLETC also provides services to state, local, tribal, and international law enforcement agencies.

In addition to Glynco, the FLETC operates two other residential training sites in Artesia, New Mexico, and Charleston, South Carolina. The FLETC also operates a non-residential in-service requalification and advanced training facility in Cheltenham, Maryland, for use by agencies with large concentrations of personnel in the Washington, DC area.

Glynco, GA, has firearm simulators and a total of 40 MPRI’s PatrolSims driving simulators installed. The Strategic Plan 2016–2018 promises the site a new simulation building to deliver training using simulation technology in areas such as driving and firearms. The current facility was designed more as a proof-of-concept facility than an actual training facility. The new facility would be designed specifically with training as the end goal. Another facility for use-of-force simulators is also included into the Strategic Plan. Funding for construction or renovation of a facility to house the VirTra simulators is presumed to be provided to FLETC from CBP.

Artesia, NM, site has judgmental pistol shooting simulators and several PatrolSim™ driver training simulators. Also, according to the Strategic Plan 2016–2018, it will receive a new simulator building to house and centralize various simulators for firearms and driver training.

Charleston, SC, according to Strategic Plan 2016–2018, will have a new ship simulator to support training that currently occurs on the Cape Chalmers by FLETC partner organizations. This facility will alleviate scheduling conflicts for maritime training and will be available for use by all maritime training entities.

Cheltenham, MD has firearm and MPRI’s PatrolSims driving simulators installed.

Orlando, Florida site is specialized specifically in evaluating new and existing training technologies for their ability to meet law enforcement training needs and is dedicated in developing various simulation training systems.

State and Local Training Centers and Academies, Usage of Training Simulators

Local law enforcement entities are under jurisdiction of the state or municipality and some of them develop training programs independently. For example, California has a program, Regional Skills Training Centers under which 24 Regional Skills Training Centers (RSTCs) provide a cost-effective way to meet the perishable skills training needs of more than 80,000 sworn California officers. The sites are equipped with Law Enforcement Driving Simulators and/or Force Options Simulators, as well as skid training cars and platforms, training mannequins, computers, LCD projectors and other related training equipment. Implementation costs for each site are about $603,000. Total equipment cost is approximately $15,000,000.

Training of new officers is a responsibility charged to an institution that provides the minimum training standards set by the governing State. This institution is most commonly known as a law enforcement academy, but is often affiliated with larger organizations such as colleges, universities, technical colleges, or a municipal police agency

Simulation training has become a standard mode of training in police academies. The 2002 Census of Law Enforcement Training Academies was the first effort by the Bureau of Justice Statistics to collect information from the US law enforcement training academies, which included, among other data, information on simulation technology used by them. The census was also conducted in 2006 and 2013. Summary of the findings is below.

In 2002, 626 state and local academies were operating in the United States that offered basic law enforcement training to individuals recruited or seeking to become law enforcement officers. In addition to basic recruit training, 88% of the academies provided in-service training for active duty, certified officers. Simulated firearm training has been encompassing a larger part of the training compared to other types of simulated training. In 2002, less than a quarter of all academies had access to a driving simulator (22%) and 77% had access to firearms training simulator.

In 2006, 648 state and local law enforcement academies were providing basic training to entry-level recruits in the United States. Of them, 292, (45%) were operated by an academic institution, such as a 2-year or 4-year college, a university, or a technical school. Municipal police departments were the primary operating agency for 143 academies, 22% of the total. Sheriffs’ offices operated 57 academies (9%), and state police and highway patrol agencies operated 44 academies (7%). State Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commissions, the agencies typically responsible for certifying law enforcement officers in each state, operated 25 academies (4%) nationwide. By 2006, the number of driving simulators increased to 32% of all training institutions while the access to firearm training simulator has not changed, percentage-wise.

● By 2013, the total number of training academies increased to 664. Nearly half (47%) of the academies that provided basic training for new recruits were based at an educational institution such as a 2-year college (33%), 4-year college or university (7%), or technical school (7%) (table 1). Municipal police departments operated 20% of academies, sheriffs’ offices operated 10%, and state police or highway patrol agencies operated 6%. State Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) agencies, which typically certify peace officers, operated 5% of academies. In 2013, the number of driving simulators increased to 39% and firearms — to 81% of training institutions.

The total number of police academies increased between 2002 and 2013, as shown in Figure 26: Number of Police Academies in the USA, 2002–2013. The data demonstrates that the highest (4%) growth between 2002 and 2013 took place in Municipal/City Academies.

Number of Police Academies in the USA, 2002–2013
Number of Police Simulators Used by the USA Police Academies, 2002–2013 demonstrates how the numbers of simulators, used either onsite or offsite, have been growing since 2002. In fact, the number of onsite firing simulators has increased by 21% and driving — by 78% over this period of time.
Number of Police Simulators Used by the USA Police Academies, 2002–2013

Richard A. Wright of University of South Florida in his Graduate Theses and Dissertation of 2013 observed that approximately 90% of law enforcement academies used reality-based scenario training to teach arrest techniques and 93% used scenario-based training to teach self-defence. Only about 65% of the academies used scenario-based training for cognitive development. Eighty-eight percent of law enforcement academies used scenario-based training as a means of teaching firearms skills. There was some indication that law enforcement academies have been using virtual simulations as a means to teach these skills; however, there are no exact statistics to provide.

Forecast of Police Simulators in the USA

The Consultant estimated the future number of simulators to be used by the police academies and police agencies separately.


To develop the future projections for simulators used by the USA police training academies, the Consultant assumes the following:

● The number of simulators used for firearms and driving training is equivalent to that reported by academies.

● The growth rate of these simulators will start similar to the actual historical growth between 2002 and 2013 and will diminish along the timeline.

The resulting estimates are shown in Figure 28: Projected Number of Training Driving and Firing Simulators in the US Police Academies.

Projected Number of Training Driving and Firing Simulators in the US Police Academies

According to the calculations, the US police training academies will have, either onsite or offsite, approximately 600 firing and 340 driving simulators by year 2030.


To develop the future projections for simulators used by the USA police agencies, the Consultant assumes the following:

● 50% of police agency have at least one training simulator.

● The number of agencies will grow at the rate similar to the last five years of the rate reported by the US Department of Justice.

The resulting estimates are shown in Figure 29:Forecast of Police Simulators Used by Agencies in the USA, 2013–2030. It is likely that the total number of training simulators used by the USA police agencies will comprise 9,325 in 2030.

Forecast of Police Simulators Used by Agencies in the USA, 2013–2030.


Overview of Policing Authorities in Australia and Training Simulators

The number of the sworn police officers in Australia has been increasing consistently at the rate of 1.5% to 2%, at least since 2001, per the data reported by the Australian government, also depicted in Figure 30: Historical and Projected Police Force in Australia, 2001–20. The number of police officers per 100,000 of population has been increasing along the timeline. It is likely that the same trend will continue.

Historical and Projected Police Force in Australia, 2001–2030

Australia is served by police agencies assigned to states and the Northern Territory, with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) being responsible for policing the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The Consultant calculated over 1,550 police stations operating in Australia at the time of the study.

In Australia, each of the states and mainland territories runs a centralised academy for training of law enforcement agencies within the state or territory. Police academies ensure that officers meet basic local, state, and federal standards. Of eight training academies, five, at the time of the developing the study, were equipped with virtual reality simulation training equipment: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia.

● ACT Policing, the community policing arm of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has 11 police stations. Australian Federal Police College located in Barton, Canberra trains AFP initial recruits, reports no simulators on site.

● New South Wales Police has seventy-six local area commands operating in six regions from 432 police stations. The New South Wales Police College features simulation facilities. The Police Academy boasts the virtual reality training system for law enforcement (VirTra). Officer presence, verbal skills, less lethal force options, and deadly force, are all available for simulation use. Simunition/Tactical Options training utilises specially designed Glock 17T training firearms designed to fire small non-lethal die marking projectiles, inert defensive sprays and soft batons in a realistic force-on-force environment. The simunition building is a purpose built facility that can be configured into multiple layouts to replicate real life scenarios, providing an interactive learning environment for students.

● Northern Territory Police has 49 police stations. Northern Territory Police Academy reports no training simulators.

● Western Australia Police Force is responsible for policing the world’s largest single police jurisdiction, covering Western Australia’s 2.5 million square kilometres with 158 police stations across 8 metropolitan and 7 regional districts. Western Australia Police Academy’s Operational Safety and Tactics Training Unit is responsible for all Critical Use of Force Skills and Operational Safety training and maintains a training facility which includes a fully computerised firing range and a Police Interactive Training area for realistic scenario training and empty hand soft fall training area for self defense training.

Forecast of Police Simulators in Australia

Australian police, while boasting a very well structured organization and effective performance, has a rather limited access to simulation technology. With over 1,550 police stations, consistently growing police force and very healthy share of the policemen of over 250 per 100,000 population, absence of any serious controversial issues with the public, there could be a limited interest by the local authorities to invest heavily in virtual training.


To develop the future projections for simulators used by the Australian police agencies, the Consultant assumes the following:

● 50% of police agencies use at least one training simulator.

● The number of agencies will grow at the rate similar to the last five years of the rate reported by the Australian government.

● Currently, five academies have training simulators.

● By the end of the forecast period, all eight academies will have simulators, at least three per entity.

Results of the calculations show nearly 870 simulators to be in use by the Australian police agencies and academies by 2030 as shown in Figure 31: Forecast of Police Simulators in Australia.

Forecast of Police Simulators in Australia

End of Part 3.

Back to Part 2.

Part 4.

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