This week sees the launch of HostileWorld, a new interactive training platform that uses Near-Life™ technology to revolutionise Hostile Environment Training (HEAT Training). The site will allow journalists, aid workers and others stationed overseas to access crucial skills and knowledge that will save lives.

Salford-based Digital Training Solutions (DTS) has partnered with the Resilience Advisors Network and lead security company Blue Mountain Group to develop content that allows individuals to test their skills via filmed, interactive learning scenarios. The team has also worked closely with staff deployed through UK Aid, the Department for International Development’s rescue teams, to ensure the material is as relevant as possible to those going on mission.

Using real actors, filmed in several realistic locations around the world, the Near-Life™ interactive scenarios gives learners a taste of the security situations they’ll most likely encounter in the field. As in real-life, they must make quick decisions or the scenario proceeds with decisions made on their behalf.

HEAT Training is designed for individuals working in or travelling to potentially dangerous or unsettled regions and territories. Traditionally provided for international journalists, oil and gas contractors, government employees or NGO/Humanitarian aid workers, the training, until now, has required extensive time away.

HostileWorld changes all that by providing flexible and cost-effective access to training that can be delivered remotely. In addition, it makes high quality training available to people internationally who previously may not have been able to access it.  

Use of this Near-Life™ technology is not new to DTS – the company has pioneered its use in the training field. In 2015, DTS worked in partnership with disaster relief NGO, RedR UK, to deliver Mission Ready. Funded by USAID and DFID, Mission Ready provided several interactive simulations targeted specifically at the NGO sector.

Mike Todd, co-founder of DTS and HostileWorld, said:

“HEAT training is vitally important – there are numerous conflict zones around the world, with a host of professionals such as aid workers, security personnel and journalists entering and traversing through extremely dangerous areas to do vital work, whether saving lives, improving living conditions or supporting government efforts to resolve conflict. Traditionally, HEAT training has been prohibitively expensive and difficult to access – particularly alarming in conflict zones where civilian aid workers are unable to leave the area to access training. HostileWorld will bring the training to them.

“Whether accessed by individuals out in the field, or at home in advance of a mission, HostileWorld opens the possibility of everyone entering dangerous or unsettled regions to get the training they need. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that our technology will help to save lives and ensure that aid workers can continue to improve living conditions in some of the most challenging environments on the planet.”

Nigel Thomas, CEO of Blue Mountain Group, said:

Nothing is black and white, not all risk can be mitigated and there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution – we must teach people to be aware, so that they can anticipate and avoid, ensuring that they are able to do often very difficult, but much-needed roles as safely as possible. HEAT training allows us to raise people’s awareness, from their immediate personal space through to risk assessment – we teach, empower and give confidence, allowing people to work in challenging environments unhindered and unrestricted.”

Jon Hall, managing director of the Resilience Advisors Network, said:

“HostileWorld has been rigorously designed and tested by responders that have operated in extreme environments over recent years including major natural disasters such as the tsunami in Japan and Nepal earthquakes. The safety and security of staff we deploy overseas is critical to them achieving their mission – rescuers and support workers travel with clear objectives and the ability for them to operate in as safe a manner as possible is vital, not only to them but also for the peace of mind of those monitoring and co-ordinating back at home.”