Welcome to Policetown, UK

Paul Raven @ 01-04-2008

police by church door Out in the rural peace of the Kent countryside lies Policetown, a mock-up English town used by London’s Metropolitan Police force for training purposes. [Via Subtopia]

The modern law enforcement specialist needs thorough training to cover all potential eventualities. So Policetown includes houses, pubs and nightclubs, fake train and subway stations … and even a faux airport, complete with truncated aircraft fuselage for simulating hostage situations. [image by FeelGuiltyInc.]

Leaving aside issues of cost and effectiveness, there’s something fabulously Ballardian about the idea of a fake town, for whatever purpose. I wonder how apparent its falseness would be if you were to accidentally drive through it on your way elsewhere? And I wonder how many other fake towns and buildings might be out there that we don’t yet know about …


McQualifications – official qualifications in the workplace

Paul Raven @ 28-01-2008

Diploma-scroll Talk about cognitive dissonance – I thought I was still asleep and dreaming when I heard on the radio this morning that three large corporate employers (including a certain well-known fast-food chain) have been granted the right to act as examination boards by the UK government. This means they can grant their employees qualifications which (theoretically) have value beyond the walls of the company where they were earned, unlike many current vocational qualifications. [Image from stock.xchng]

I expect that, certainly at first, an A-Level in McManagement won’t be worth the paper it’s written on, except with similar employers – but if the scheme sticks, that will probably change. You could probably argue that more people will end up with qualifications if there’s the financial incentive of receiving a working wage while earning them.

But what if this is the thin end of the wedge? What if, in a few decades, kindergartens and primary schools are run (or sponsored) by corporate interests? In a climate of growing deficits, it’s not that unlikely a scenario – and we’ve already been softened up to the idea by supermarket vouchers-for-equipment schemes. But then again, there’s little difference between governments and corporations as it is … once again, Snow Crash seems eerily prescient. Or am I just engaging in knee-jerk cyberpunk paranoia?
[tags]corporate, training, education, qualifications[/tags]


Ender’s Game, here we come

Jeremy Eades @ 21-12-2007

The military and video games have had a long history together, going back to flight simulators before WWII.  Of course, there’s been America’s Army, but that was a recruitment tool, a way to gloss over the downsides of the Army, namely the permanency of death and having to follow orders.

So where are our “Nintendo soldiers”?  Turns out they’re currently working on a suitable training simulation for the US Army.  Heck, there’s even a trade magazine devoted to these simulators.

The question isn’t “what are these simulators?”, but “what are they not?”  Well, they’re not going to teach you how to shoot and they won’t get you buff.  What they will do is provide tactics lessons in a classroom environment that can then be put to use on the training grounds.  For more info on the what and why, check out this essay by a training games company, and this paper from the National Defense University.  They’re not just random commercial games slapped together, but designed from the ground up to meet training demands.

I’ve played FPS games online since the good ol’ days of Doom II.  And with some of the squad-based ones simple tactics can make or break your game.  Me?  I charge in and promptly die.  And then proceed to do it again.

(via DailyTech)  (image from renato guerra)


Virgin astronauts to undergo centrifuge training

Paul Raven @ 03-09-2007

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwoSpace tourism tickets are pretty pricey – partly because you’re not just paying for the flight itself, but a whole bunch of extras too. Wired reports that the first hundred people scheduled to head into sub-orbital space on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo are heading to Philadelphia for preliminary training sessions in centrifuges to get them accustomed to the G-forces of launch and reentry. I am insanely jealous.