Michael Cao | Enhancing Performance of Federal Police
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About This Project

This was a Massive End to End project, to enhance the performance of federal police officers through the development of training and technologies, from scratch. The research looked to quantitatively and qualitatively measure the exertions, needs, and perceptions of police officer through 11 live-scenarios deemed to be essential to policing. With an emphasis on scientific and legal defensibility in the final recommendations, the research took a robust and computational approach, relying heavily on primary data. As such, this project consisted of over 400 participants, across 5 locations throughout the country, and over 500 hours of diverse research activities ranging from various biometric measurements, observations, focus groups, interviews, and ethnographic research.  This research consisted of 4 phases: Understand, Data Collection, Concept Creation, and Testing, spearheaded by myself and another researcher.


01/Understand: Within the first 3 months of the project, my research team conducted literature reviews, desk research, and stakeholder interviews/focus groups on all that is policing. We aimed to understand this institution from the ground up – from training to process; from people to culture; from ordinary to extreme. Out of this phase, we reached consensus, with the highest level of authority in Federal policing, on the ##(confidential) essential tasks of a general duty police officer. This formed the backbone of our data collection in the next phase.


02/Data Collection: For the next 6 months, my research team studied each of the ## essential tasks of policing to gather in-depth understanding on the pain-points, motivations, and needs of police officers. Through numerous context labs with police officers across the nation, my research team generated realistic scenarios alongside SMEs to contextualize each of the essential tasks. We then simulated the generated scenarios with live participants to gather human insights “in-vivo”. With scenarios ranging from chase and pursuit, to routine traffic stops, my research team collected detailed information to paint the entire experience of a police officer. Raw data from this research was synthesized into a holistic insights report, a series of actionable design principles, and concepts for the future. This was a massive research project, and one of my largest endeavours to date.


03/ Concept Creation: For the next 3 months, we took the reflection of meaning provided by the research in the earlier phase and built out several concepts for testing. These concepts fit under 3 categories: p########, t######, and m#######. In collaboration with experts from each of these domains, we collaboratively built out concepts to enhance officer performance. As examples, In working with the human performance experts, we created a new and enhanced physical fitness test for cadets that would be the gold-standard of police officer fitness; in working with development and engineering teams, we were able to prototype advanced cockpit designs to enhance the work experience.


04/ Testing: With a strategy to ramp up iterative testing, the research team began with concept assessment labs with small groups of SMEs to refine the prototypes/concepts, with the eventual launch of full-blown pilot studies across the nation. As an example, the new and enhanced physical fitness test will go on to be piloted on over 600 cadets.


This is a project that is still ongoing, beyond my time with the Department of National Defense.

About This Project

A large scale research project to uncover the lived and work experience of federal police officers

Defense, Human Factors, Neuroscience, Research