Augmented Reality bytes: emergency equipment training

4-minute read
Discover how Augmented Reality software is helping train nbn employees to operate mobile equipment designed to help keep customers connected during an emergency.

nbn is using cutting edge Augmented Reality technology to bring its suite of mobile Temporary Network Infrastructure to life.

This innovative application is an important part of how nbn trains employees in readiness for emergency situations.

Through an Augmented Reality app on a smartphone, images of nbn™ assets are transformed into a virtual 3D model so they can be displayed, explored and manipulated on our employees’ desks around the nation.

nbn is committed to supporting communities at all times, including in emergency situations. This is represented in our Made for More advertising campaign.
It allows users to explore and learn how to operate assets such as nbn’s portable Network on Wheels – a compact trailer designed to temporarily replace damaged equipment and maintain connectivity for customers impacted by an emergency while permanent repairs are carried out.
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Augmented Reality training

This makes for a much more engaging training experience for those trying to get their head around operating what may be an unfamiliar piece of equipment than studying a detailed schematic or manual alone.

Just as importantly, it also significantly multiplies the number of employees that can be trained to use the highly specialised mobile solutions in nbn’s emergency response arsenal without the need to be physically hands-on. 

Temporary Network Infrastructure

As part of our continuing investment in Australia’s digital backbone, nbn has a range of innovative Temporary Network Infrastructure that’s pre-positioned across Australia and may be deployed to support communities as they recover from an emergency event.

These range from the semi-trailer sized Point of Interconnect (POI) on Wheels (PoW) to highly compact and portable ‘smart’ generators. (Stay tuned for more details to be shared on the blog in coming weeks about nbn’s Temporary Network Infrastructure including Hybrid Power Cubes, Network on Wheels trailers and Emergency Response Vehicle.)

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Augmented Reality training

Barry Eng, Senior Technical Specialist – Network Emergency Management at nbn, has played a leading role in designing many of these ground-breaking solutions and says Augmented Reality promises to be a game changer.

“We are hoping Augmented Reality technology will help our people better understand this type of equipment, giving nbn a greater chance of restoring our network as quickly and effectively as possible to help those communities recover in times of disaster.” 

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Barry Eng, Senior Technical Specialist – Network Emergency Management at nbn

The mobile Network on Wheels trailer played an important role in mitigating damage to nbn™ infrastructure during last year’s devastating bushfires.

Barry says current COVID-19 travel restrictions have made the previous ‘fly in, fly out’ approach impossible for training teams on such equipment.

“It creates risk knowing that an emergency event could occur anywhere in Australia and having staff that have only seen videos and photos of Temporary Network Infrastructure that they would be deploying.

“My vision for Augmented Reality in this space is to not only make the training memorable and engaging, but also give participants a sense of familiarity, so that if the day comes where an exchange burns down in their patch and the Temporary Network Infrastructure lands on their doorstep for deployment, they feel like they have used it before.” 

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nbn's Network on Wheels deployed in the field due to a bushfire

Training of the future

The use of Augmented Reality technology at nbn is being enthusiastically driven by the organisation’s Learning and Development team.

“The future of innovative learning is here,” says Stefanie Papas, Learning and Development Partner at nbn.

“With Augmented Reality training assets deployed across the enterprise, we can integrate cutting edge developments in this exciting new educational space.”

Stefanie says nbn’s Temporary Network Infrastructure assets have unique and critical training requirements that need an engaging and scalable solution to improve knowledge, engagement and interactivity. 

“The future of innovative learning is here."
Stefanie Papas, Learning and Development Partner at nbn

Both Stefanie and Barry paid tribute to Sean Cross, field engineer turned technical trainer at nbn, who has played a key role in bringing the Augmented Reality concept to life.

“This technology helps us communicate difficult technical concepts without looking at the hardware. You get to jump in and test the stuff and not just stare at a schematic,” says Stefanie.

“It’s a lot more fun and effective for our participants to visualise complicated information in this way, and that’s leading to stronger educational outcomes.”

Stefanie says Augmented Reality technology can also save time and enhance safety in fast-moving emergency situations.

“We can use this technology – which can generally be quickly accessed on a mobile phone during an emergency situation from anywhere it is needed provided we have mobile network access – to explain dangerous scenarios without exposing our employees to risk.”

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Sean Cross, field engineer turned technical trainer at nbn

Tips to staying connected in an emergency

An emergency communications kit can help you to stay connected in a power outage, or if there is a disruption to services over the nbn™ network.

Any equipment connected to services over the nbn™ network will not work during a power outage.