Project Canary the latest safety tool

IN THE good old days of coal mining a canary was a valuable accessory. As long as the bird kept singing, the miners could rest assured their air supply was safe. And now the Mining Industry Skills Centre has given new life to the concept of playing it safe, with today’s launch of a simulation training tool, Project Canary.

Claire Svircas

The games-based technology is designed to assist the resources industry in working towards zero harm through a range of virtual scenarios that enable users to apply risk assessment skills while encouraging behavioural changes around safe working practices – proving more valuable than a bird in a cage.

Mining Industry Skills Centre manager of simulation and eLearning Deanna Hutchinson said in the Project Canary environment, individuals are supported by adult learning methodologies that promote self assessment and reflection on how safety knowledge is actually applied in their work practices.

“This is not another training tool that simply tests a trainee’s ability to regurgitate content,” she said.

“It is a learning environment that provides opportunity for individuals to test their knowledge and cognitive processes around hazard identification, assessment and control.”

Developed in collaboration with simulation experts, QinetiQ, the simulator currently includes scenarios for coal and metalliferous surface mining, as well as coal underground mining, with plans to develop metalliferous underground, quarrying and drilling environments.

Mining Industry Skills Centre chief executive Derek Hunter said the technology would make it possible to partner with individual resource companies to develop virtual worlds for their specific training requirements.

“Project Canary will shortly contain a number of scenarios for dealing with risk, and the library of scenarios will grow over time as the game develops,” he said.

“However, the capacity to actually develop specific scenarios and training requirements for individual minesites is perfectly possible and is one of the exceptional abilities of this technology.”

Gary Eves of QinetiQ said while the technology of Project Canary is new to the resources industry, it has been used with great success in the defence industry for training military personnel.

“Virtual Battle Space 2, the games engine behind Project Canary, is an integral part of the training undertaken by individuals in the armed forces,” Eves said.

“Introducing the technology of Virtual Battle Space 2 to the resources industry will undoubtedly see a step in the right direction towards harm minimisation.”