Defra explores VR workshops to enhance collaborative working

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is exploring the use of Virtual Reality-driven immersive workshops to enable better dispersed working across the organisation. 

Defra’s DDTS Technology Innovation team posted a video demonstrating Virtual Reality through Spatial and how it allows employees to come together in real-time and to create more collaborative workspaces - from team brainstorming sessions, conferences, large-scale workshops and training classes.

“For a multitude of reasons, more and more Defra meetings are held online, and while digital meeting tools are plugging this gap, they aren’t always fitting our needs for those sessions that require true collaboration. There are now Virtual Reality-driven technologies available to us that enable true collaboration that is much closer to the real-world sessions we know work well,” the DDTS Technology Innovation said. 

The immersive workshops enable users to create and get insights using a range of tools and resources available, such as breakout rooms and interactive mind maps that can be exported afterwards. 

The sessions can also host complex inputs. Defra were able to use a Virtual Reality space to create an accurate flood model of Shrewsbury where the team were able to raise the water level, identify the first areas to flood and annotate the model as needed. 

DDTS Technology Innovation team is responsible for encouraging the exploration and adoption of emerging technologies across Defra to better achieve the departmental objectives.

Other project that have been rolled out by the team include Internet of Things (IoT) for Forest Monitoring, which provides the remote monitoring of forest health through automated readings including tree girth and temperature which in turn enables easier, cheaper, and better forest management.

Another is Augmented Reality (AR) for the Thames Barrier, which is being used as a training tool for junior members of staff, enabling experienced colleagues to provide AR-driven training guides. It saves costs in technician callouts and allows effective interactive training to be available 24/7.

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