Published: Written By: Christian Doolin

From security to collaboration to training, the public sector may soon reap many benefits from emerging augmented reality technologies. But first, agency CIOs will have to create the IT platforms and data management capabilities required to make it work.

A woman steps out of a taxi at the Los Angeles International Airport. Though she may not realize it, she is the focus of a security screening process that began when she pulled up to the curb, and will continue until she boards her plane. Cameras positioned throughout the airport record her behavioral, gestural, and kinematic characteristics, and feed this information into a highly sophisticated data management system. Here, video analytics, facial identification software, and threat recognition algorithms analyze the feed and work in concert to generate a threat profile for this traveler. By the time she reaches a TSA agent standing just beyond the check-in area, her passenger number and threat profile are overlaid into the agent’s field of vision via a pair of augmented reality glasses the agent wears at his post. The agent smiles and instructs the woman to proceed.

Augmented airports


Welcome to a future in which augmented reality technologies (AR) have transformed the way government and citizens interact. Visual AR—often associated with wearable computing platforms like Google Glass—is the overlay of digital information onto a person’s real-world field of vision.¹ Other AR devices augment touch, sound, and even smell.

Deployment of AR in the public sector will challenge government CIOs to build an IT infrastructure with exceptionally powerful analytics and data alignment capabilities. It will also present formidable challenges in the areas of training, security, and privacy. (Consider how many of us regularly misplace our glasses.)

Despite these considerations, government is poised to benefit from AR in situations where visualizing data in a real-time, mobile, or hands-free environment could prove useful.  These situations include:

Search and Rescue. In the future, AR could allow government agencies to use 3D mapping and wayfinding capabilities to enhance search and rescue efforts. For example, officers wearing AR goggles could deploy virtual compasses or three-dimensional maps of the surrounding environment to avoid hazards and find target locations (or individuals) more effectively. Visual collaboration capabilities allow officers to communicate visual instructions or share perspectives from remote locations.

Security Screenings. In the next decade, AR could play a substantial role in reducing risks and errors associated with security screening at travel hubs, border crossings, and public events. For example, contextual checklists overlaid on security officers’ vision could help standardize operations and make it possible for officers monitoring large areas to share and recreate 3D visuals and capture images in real time.

Training. AR could transform job training in high-risk environ­ments. AR-enabled interactive training makes it possible for trainees to virtually and realistically simulate scenarios they are likely to encounter in the workplace. These scenarios provide instructions and alter environmental cues to help trainees learn appropriate responses to different situations. For example, in a border patrol training exercise designed to demonstrate proper procedures for inspecting automobiles entering the United States, agent trainees wearing AR glasses might see the message, “Vehicle chassis is two inches lower than standard make. Search all compartments.” The trainees would respond to this and similar commands that appear in their field of vision throughout the exercise.

While organizations vary widely in their readiness to implement AR capabilities, it’s imperative that forward-thinking public sector leaders begin to assess the readiness of their organization for changes that widespread use of AR can bring. This may only be possible if they understand how AR can be used, and how these capabilities can be combined to transform their operations and deliver improved services to citizens.


Christian is a Manager in Deloitte Consulting’s commercial Human Capital practice.  His current work is focused on immersive learning technologies and augmented reality for public sector clients. Christian is a Design Lead for Deloitte’s Center for Immersive Learning, leading the design and development of gaming, simulation, and sandbox solutions to drive engaging client learning experiences.  His professional experience includes risk modeling in the US transportation system; investment banking in the upstream oil and gas sector; and emerging market advisory for the privatization of Middle East ports and universities.