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VR Being Utilised for Reducing Violence in Grand Rapids Communities

A new initiative to use virtual reality-based conditioning procedures is being set in motion, to reduce violent incidents in Grand Rapids and bettering the lives of its youngsters and at-risk communities.

Named the Silence Violence Project, the initiative consists of social workshop sessions for inspiring real-time outcomes designed to reduce violence within the city’s communities. Creatives from Grand Rapids conceptualised the VR development project upon realising the rise of social violence and crimes in the city. Combining interactive technology workshops and cognitive education, Ricardo O’Neal, the co-founder of the project, said that its probable results and objectives are reducing violence, invigorating socioeconomic prosperity, developing healthy relationships in the communities, and raising the retention of talent.

According to O’Neal, the Silence Violence Project can be a potential way of treating social evils when it comes to effectiveness. The goal is to reduce violence within the city, street by street.

Ricardo O’Neal is the founder of Aurikk Brand Movement Group, a collective with the objective of introducing custom and unconventional solutions to bring up sustainable brands. O’Neal is being partnered by Kareem Scales, the innovation and technology manager at NAACP Greater Grand Rapids Branch, for the passion project. The website has stats showing how poverty and crime affect youngsters in vulnerable communities. Through this project, the group led by O’Neal and Scales is offering social-oriented tools to successfully overcome abuse, poverty, and violence.

VR is a part of the Silence Violence Project. Image source:

O’Neal revealed that the project will use virtual reality technology to create socially stimulating experiences for contemplating the violent behavioural patterns of youth. He said that the objective was to recondition these negative patterns of thought. Elaborating further, O’Neal remarked that the VR technology being used for this project is revolutionising the delivery of educational content, as it will enable users to enjoy interactive features.

The Silence Violence Project is most well suited for young adults between the ages of 10 to 17 and is facilitated through the joined efforts of community influencers and creative personalities. Treefort Studios, a Grand Rapids-based software development firm, is set to enter the role of a virtual reality consultant for the project.

Craig Burgess, the co-founder of Treefort, expressed excitement that a project like Silence Violence is being introduced, as he considers violence to be a subject that needs to be brought up everywhere. Speaking about how Treefort intends to introduce VR conditioning to the project, he said that his team makes notes of things beings said, and arrange sessions to talk about how aspects like design, software, and hardware can be implemented. Then the company cooperates with its clients to create innovative processes, and even help them embrace new technology. Burgess said that Ricardo and his team analyse varying scenarios to aid in the implementation of virtual reality technology.

Kareem Scales, the co-creator, also an NAACP youth advisor, is set to monitor youth participation and community engagement. The Grand Rapid Police Department is the other community collaborator of the project and will aid in creating outreach strategies to achieve the desired impact. Brandi Bell is managing the project.

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