Best Members' Collaboration Awards Entry: Chrome Angel Solutions and Port of Tyne

Award Nomination:

For over 5 years Chrome Angel Solutions (CAS) has been applying Serious Games technology to tackle the toughest performance, safety & customer experience challenges for railway operators. Rapidly scalable low-cost simulations are deployed through app stores on mobile devices, tablets, PC & VR headsets to reach a lot of people quickly. Building staff confidence and competence for complex critical processes, where it’s important to do “the right thing right” and mistakes have significant consequences.

Safety culture in Ports, in common with all asset intensive operational workforces, is challenging to change.

Building on £1m+ of R&D including multiple DfT innovation grants, CAS was selected by Connected Places Catapult Maritime Accelerator 2022 and partnered with the Port of Tyne to develop a Concept Demonstrator to prove the value of this technology in Ports.

Our goal was to demonstrate the feasibility of rapidly and cost effectively developing a fully playable virtual reality simulation game set in a port, based on a highly accessible tablet version along with a VR Headset concept demonstrator to test user engagement and impact.

A Port Warehouse was selected for the pilot, as an operationally intensive environment where many people work.

A VR simulation environment and concept game was built in a 6-week project. This was then tested by staff from all areas of port operations.

Port of Tyne Post of the testing day.

Additional Information:

A key challenge for all safety training can be the limited retention or lasting impact on individuals’ awareness of risks along with skills fade over time, especially if visits or activities are not frequent. Regular exposure to potential threats without incident may also lead to normalisation and complacency. There are also significant numbers of employees involved who may be contractors or visitors. There may be a high turnover of staff and challenges with language or functional literacy in these roles, cohorts typically under served in quality vocational training. Safety training is often difficult to make enjoyable and engaging for staff.

VR Serious Games create an exciting opportunity for a completely new approach to engaging workforces to build awareness, competence and confidence.

Built in the world’s leading games platform Unity and deployed through Google, Apple and Microsoft stores to low-cost mobiles/tablets, personal computers and VR headsets. These games can reach a lot of people, quickly and at low cost. Our vision is to build simulation games that can be deployed at scale to users on their own mobile devices and played frequently over extended periods to gain rewards, an experience they will willingly engage in on their own because they find it valuable and rewarding. The technology can also be deployed to enhance established in-person training, with VR Headsets version creating highly immersive collaborative experiences.

This technology has now been successfully applied to a growing range of challenges in the railway industry including operations, maintenance, safety, security and customer experience, with impressive results.

Our goal was to prove it can also successfully be applied to Ports with similar benefits. A fully playable tablet game and VR Heasdset prototype was tested with staff from all areas of the port operation to prove that:

  • A high quality and functional game can be built rapidly at low cost.
  • Port staff will engage with the game.
  • The approach has the potential to positively influence behaviour.

Can we make “safety” training enjoyable, engaging and effective? An experience that staff look forward to?

Working closely with Port of Tyne Warehouse and Safety managers, a game was designed based on handling cargo through the port, undertaking real world tasks in a realistic environment and under productivity pressure and being exposed to real world hazards. Moving cargo scores points, but demonstrating safe behaviour scores more points and unsafe behaviours have consequences. This was not a “safety” game but a “work in a port safely game”.

Tested with 32 staff from all areas of operations, users played on a tablet for an hour and were given the opportunity to try the VR Headset. A group discussion and form generated feedback (results in supporting information).

The Proof of Concept demonstrated that:

  • Operational staff will engage with the game.
  • Everyone successfully completed it on tablet.
  • Many played repeatedly to find everything.
  • Significant competition emerged to beat others score.
  • Then collaboration emerged and they helped each other finish.
  • The core building blocks are common for any port operation.

These PoC results are now being used to build a collaborative team across Maritime and other industries to develop ‘work safely’ simulations. The next steps are to understand the key requirements and needs for all ports, then build a core platform and solution that covers the majority of needs. This core can be localised and customised to individual operations if required, offering a highly affordable and scalable solution that can be developed continuously to add new activities, hazards, choices & highly emotionally engaging consequences. Competitions and rewards can create an enjoyable, compelling and “sticky” experience that people will willingly played frequently and repetitively to build awareness, competence and confidence to work safely.

Our vision is to build a VR simulation game that will change behaviour and save lives in the Port industry. This proof of concept project has been a vital step on enabling that journey.

Results from user feedback: