Dubai Customs are training their inspectors through virtual reality to improve the efficiency of catching illegal items "hidden cleverly" by smugglers.
The visuals in the virtual reality (VR) sessions are duplicates of actual images from Deira Wharfage, where the inspectors can search boats and seaports for drugs, weapons and other illegal items.
The project will soon expand to training them to search containers that come and leave the Jebel Ali Port, as well as the trucks that pass the Hatta port.
Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the GITEX Technology Week, Khawla AlSaleis, the administration affairs director at Dubai Customs, said: "The virtual reality teaches them how to start their day before the inspection - all the safety tools should be ready before they go to the ports. It will teach them how to inspect hidden and illegal items, such as drugs, weapons and others. Each time the inspector finds an illegal item, he will get points. When he receives enough points, he can go on to the next level."
"Normally, when we train them in the offices, the information doesn't stay with them. Even if we take them on the field to train, the new inspector will have a higher risk of having an accident during training," she said.
The idea behind the initiative is that the new and younger inspectors will enjoy learning through VR and it will help them retain information faster.
So far, 20 inspectors for sea-related training have taken part in the VR sessions to get them ready for fieldwork.
Another project the Dubai Customs have launched is an improved risk engine that will detect vessels that have already been called as a "risk" by the inspectors.
Mohammad Al Zaiady, the module lead at Dubai Customs, said: "If someone makes a declaration that he has a shipment, we can assess the risk. The risks include smuggling, drugs, weapons and others. Some parts of the engine will be using artificial intelligence. Our special tracking system will enable us to track the vessel and the ship that contains the illegal items."
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