WA Police “Step Forward” into Second Life: detractors in hot pursuit.

The WA Police "Step Forward" Pavilion

The WA Police “Step Forward” Virtual Recruiting Pavilion was launched this week in Second Life. The plan is for the pavilion to be run during a three month trial period, after which this method of recruiting will be reviewed.

“Trudi Karu” and “Dreibergs Lannock” are the avatar names of the recruiting police who will be attending the pavilion at various times over the weeks to come. There is no information yet on how often these staff members will be available to talk to interested parties in Second Life, but it is promising that, unlike with some other government agencies and corporations who have created a virtual presence, there will be an actual person to converse with, rather than a simple 3D rendition of a web site. Unfortunately, there was no-one on staff on Saturday, a day on which many people who work would have the leisure time to get in-world and talk.

Poor video quality mars presentation.

The pavilion consists of a ground-based structure, from which you can teleport to the presentation suite – a sky box consisting of four conjoined, circular huts. The first room is a welcome area, from which you can reach each of the other dedicated rooms. Each room has a link to an appropriate web page, an image of that web page, and a multimedia screen on which to display video content. The video content arrives speedily and without skipping, but is of low visual quality – words cannot be made out – so what the actors have to say has more importance placed on it. Nonetheless, Binary Culture, the company responsible for the build, has produced an attractive and functional build.

On the other side of the story are the folks from the Retired Medically Unfit WA Police Officers Forum (RMU WA POL). While the “Step Forward” Pavilion was unattended by staff, we met up with a member of RMU WA POL at the pavilion. Western Australia appears to be the only state in Australia in which the police, due to a legal technicality, are not classified as “employees”. Due to this legality, police in W.A. are not due any pension or compensation if retired due to medical unfitness. According to RMU WA POL, some of those who have been discharged are not only denied any financial support, but are also denied emotional support and respect.

This is an example of a situation in which a build in Second Life can become equally important a venue for people with opposing or conflicting views as for the people who originally put it together. Indeed, if staffing is irregular, or as is so common in Second Life, absent, virtual presences have the potential to foster numerous views that were not originally intended.

Perhaps the WA Police’s Assistant Director for Attraction and Marketing, Trudi Angwin, may have some secong thoughts about the assertion she’s made: “the pavilion met our needs of being low maintenance, highly accessible, and functional without needing our ‘real’ staff to be logged in for long periods of time canvassing avatar inquiries.”

“Step Forward” page on the W.A. police web site.

Article from “The West” web site.

Binary Culture’s media release.

Comments

  1. Jackson James says:

    Thinking out aloud, my first thoughts were that the WA Police were being very clever doing this. However after reading the website of the RMU WA POL I started wondering if the recruiting in cyber space was more an act of desperation. Wouldn't they be better off looking after the people that they already have, especially when they get perminently hurt or become sick. Even if the injured or sick police had to be forced to retire, wouldn't giving them generous benefits & compensaton make all the other employees feel more secure. Can any one else see that?

  2. Irene Summers says:

    Think it says more than enough about a Police Service, when their own medically retired police offcier's call themselves the “Abandoned Ones.” I don't think there could be a clearer message to WAPOL. Clean up your act, drop the hype and look after your wounded Soldiers in Blue.

  3. What a great opportunity for the retired medically unfit WA police officers to promote their problem. I know a lot of RMU's can't go out much due to illness & poverty, to actively protest, so in reality the WA Police Service has done them a huge favour by “virtually” making themselves so available. From reading the RMU website, it would appear there is a massive “can of worms” just sitting there waiting to be opened. What a great story.

  4. Looks like Dr Karl the Commish has a bit more cleaning up to do. Considering what he said in the Sunday Times today about how parents should look after their children. I find it somewhat hypercritical that he tells others what to do with such authority, when in fact his own company hasn't got such a good record for looking after it own inner family. SHAME SHAME SHAME

  5. Claire Marie says:

    One would think that if this situation could be turned around, so that the WA Police could go from being the state with the worst after-service benefits record, to openly bragging it was the most progressive service in the world, with the best after service benefits than any other police service, they would not have to spend all this money on recruitment and retention.

    Now that would be one hell of a story.

  6. Bilbo - Frodo's dad says:

    I was somewhat concerned about the comments made by the Commissioner in the Sunday Times and his associating running the Police like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now it’s commonly known that some of the decisions made are directly out of fairyland and that some if not most of the Police hierarchy actually live in “The Shire”. Personally if the commissioner needs to have an alter ego to perform his duties then I would prefer the commissioner to model himself on Samwise Gamgee with all of Sam’s personalities of loyalty, compassion and a willingness to be there when really needed. These appear to be sadly lacking in his current role. I would be interested to know how much of the Police budget was spent on producing this recruitment site and how much is being spent to continue to “Rent the land” in cyberspace when the front line troops continue to struggle for equipment. Maybe the commissioner could spend a bit more time contemplating the bleak future of his current and past staff rather than fanaticizing about being conceived as some sort of hero.

  7. As I understand it, approximately $23,000 AUD up-front (design, development, building, scripting, etc), and … let's see, the size of the land parcel requires $25 US dollars per month in upkeep.

  8. Claire Marie says:

    Yes that does sound cheap. But is there an employee costs factored in to mantaining the site. Even $25 a month, would be a waste of money if it was causing you negative recruiting,
    because you never staffed the site. This is a good example of negative promotion. It must be causing some damage to the Police Departments reputation.?

    Whats a low level employee worth $30 an hour covering incidentals. If WAPOL was serious, bearing in mind this site is an international site it should be covered 24 hours a day. But even 10 hours will be $300 aday now that is going to add up.

  9. There *is* a staff member. I've visited three times and been unable to raise a response from them. I presume the staff member is online, but occupied with other WA POL duties. Or on a very long lunch. It's hard to say.

  10. Peter John STONE says:

    What are they (Police Force) on, “Lord of the Rings ” Now about recruiting on the ficticious Recruiting Branch “thing”, what happened to the good old ” hands -on” approach.

    Gee ,next they will expect , who do you call him (I'm 60 yrs of age) Darth Vader or something to control law and order over this thing called the “computer” .

    No wonder the C.O.P. and his cronies(Politicians) can't look after the 'REAL WORLD' such as the retired guys who had to retire on medical grounds.

    Why go overseas for Staff. all they have to do is look for the average guy with a bit of common sense,
    which seems to be lacking nowadays.

  11. Peter John STONE says:

    What are they (Police Force) on, “Lord of the Rings ” Now about recruiting on the ficticious Recruiting Branch “thing”, what happened to the good old ” hands -on” approach.

    Gee ,next they will expect , who do you call him (I'm 60 yrs of age) Darth Vader or something to control law and order over this thing called the “computer” .

    No wonder the C.O.P. and his cronies(Politicians) can't look after the 'REAL WORLD' such as the retired guys who had to retire on medical grounds.

    Why go overseas for Staff. all they have to do is look for the average guy with a bit of common sense,
    which seems to be lacking nowadays.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Journal visited the virtual pavilion, called Step Forward, and offered its review, calling the island ‘attractive and functional’ but noting a serious lack of personnel […]

  2. […] episode consists of a discussion between Feldpar Epstein, Graham Sabre and myself on the recent WA Police foray into Second Life, some interesting education applications of both social and gaming virtual worlds, and the […]

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