Government agencies have seen a large uptick in use of virtual reality over the last 3+ years. Once used more out of curiosity or for testing purposes, government divisions are utilizing VR for practical everyday purposes. Many have incorporated the technology directly into their regular workflow.
So what are these government divisions using virtual reality specifically for?
Based on a sampling of InstaVR clients, there are many different use cases. They range from the practical (USDA training new employees) to the necessary (Texas State Ambulance drivers provided through virtual reality) to the interesting (the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport using InstaVR to deliver its “Culture is Digital” report in VR).
Below, we’ll go through a few of these examples and explain specifically why these government agencies chose virtual reality. If you know any government divisions looking to leverage virtual reality, send them our way. We have a flexible, robust, easy-to-use platform that governments can use to build and distribute exceptional VR experiences!
Training New & Existing Employees
We’ve written extensively about VR for Training, and the significant benefits of using VR for this particular use case (immersion, rentention, etc). Government agencies often need to train (or re-traing) 100s or 1000s of employees at a time, across many locations. Many times, these are “out of the office” jobs such as law enforcement, parks, infrastructure, etc.
Traditional video and paper-based training simply isn’t good enough for a lot of these real-life jobs. The information doesn’t stick or isn’t delivered in as effective a manner. VR gives governments the ability to give the best possible training at a reasonable price point.
These trainings also scale well — you can use InstaVR to deliver the trainings to users’ mobile phones, laptops, or VR headsets like the Oculus Go. Particularly since state and national agencies are often located in geographically disparate locations, the ability to do wide distribution of VR easily is a key feature.
The USDA, for example, provides new employee training via virtual reality. Rather than fly in an instructor to each field location, or have employees go immediately on-site to meat packing plants, they can send VR headsets pre-loaded with incredibly immersive training content. There’s no faster way to get new government employees up to speed and comfortable with their new environment, than with VR.
Preparing for Disasters (and other rare events)
Preparing for rare and dangerous events is almost always done better in VR than traditional training environments. When these unusual events happen, remaining calm and acting in a timely manner are essential. VR provides a good immersion into the situation, and allows the users to make simulated decisions. Virtual reality can immerse government officials and prepare them for a hurricane, tornado, fire, active shooter, etc.
That’s why so many government agencies that deal with rare and dangerous events have turned to VR. They need prepared employees who feel like they’ve been in that situation before.
Our client Texas State University, for example, built an Ambulance Bus VR experience particularly since access to the Ambulance Bus is so limited. The amount of real-world training drivers and doctors get with the vehicle is not enough. But thanks to WebVR, mobile apps, and VR headsets — Ambulance Bus employees can be updated on the latest features of it and be consistently reminded of best practices.
Waiting for disaster to strike before being re-trained on the Ambulance Bus won’t work. Continuous training through VR is the answer, as it should be for many police, firefighters, park rangers, national guard, military members, etc.
The government has to compete heavily with the private sector for employees. Be it new grads or experienced hires, the current environment of low unemployment makes competing for top employees tougher.
VR not only gives potential employees an unparalleled look at what a job is like, it also helps the agency stand out as “technology forward.” Signalling to the recruit that they are going to have access to the best technology possible.
Words, photos, and standard 2d videos can only have so much impact at a job fair or recruiting event. Immersing a potential employee in a VR headset gives them a more vivid and memorable experience. That’s partially why you see so many VR headsets at conferences.
The US Navy, for example, couldn’t bring a ship into its largest annual exhibition, the Sea-Air-Space Exhibition in Maryland. So production company Left of Creative used InstaVR to build an app for the Gear VR headset that allows viewers to board the ship, fly in a plane, etc. This helps give visitors the sensation of being a crew member aboard the Navy ship — and in the process helps recruit the next generation of Navy employees.
Education/Entertainment & Arts
Governments play an integral part in both education and entertainment. We’ve covered before the huge role VR now plays in the educational space. But specifically for governments, there’s the need to educate the public on a wide variety of issues. VR provides a unique and memorable way to do so.
The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport uses InstaVR to put together interesting educational experiences. They have, for instance, put together a 360-degree virtual tour of Amiens Cathedral using InstaVR, which is accessible to anyone with a web browser. They use features like voiceover to convey important educational information.
Entertainment & arts also can fall under the purview of government — be it government owned television, radio, performances, music etc. VR allows for engaging and immersive experiences for large audiences, particularly ones that can visit a place in-person. That’s one reason the Renwick WONDER 360 tour — built by the Smithsonian American Art Museum using InstaVR — has been such a big hit. It’s allowed 1000s of people on their mobile phones, laptops, and VR headsets to do an immersive tour of a gallery exhibition that doesn’t even exist anymore! They augmented the 360 experience with video interviews of the artists, adding an educational component to the art experience.