'Robot patrols, new bodycam footage tech': How Dubai Police are working to protect residents

The focus on developing autonomous vehicles follows the UAE government’s mission to make the country a testing hub

by

Waad Barakat

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Image used for illustrative purposes. File Photo
Image used for illustrative purposes. File Photo

Published: Mon 20 May 2024, 5:40 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 May 2024, 3:12 PM

From robots patrolling the streets to technology that transcribes bodycam footage and interrogation videos, Dubai Police is using the latest technology to police the emirate. The entity is working with private companies, both local and international, for this.

"Policing is not only about catching criminals – it's about being open and inviting others in the private sector to work alongside law enforcement officials,” said Aisha Harib, a National Experts Program (NEP) Fellow and Head of the Knowledge, Innovation and Development Centre at Dubai Police, speaking to Khaleej Times.


In a collaboration, Dubai police is partnering with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) affiliated startup Micropolis, which specializes in electro-car robotics. This partnership has seen policed patrols becoming a fully autonomous process, without human intervention.

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No human involvement

According to Harib, the goal of this partnership is to develop futuristic patrols that work without any human involvement. The robots will drive like patrols and think like officers. As a result, Dubai Police are able to scan and keep an eye on communities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Aisha Harib, head of the Knowledge, Innovation and Development Centre at Dubai Police, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Photo: Supplied
Aisha Harib, head of the Knowledge, Innovation and Development Centre at Dubai Police, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Photo: Supplied

The focus on developing autonomous vehicles follows the UAE government’s mission to make the country a testing hub.

“At this rate, the UAE is set to become the third country in the world – and the first in the Middle East, according to CNN – to host autonomous technology,” said Harib.

Harib emphasized that Dubai Police's mission extends beyond traditional policing duties.

JusticeText, a startup founded by two students in University of Chicago, developed AI technology that automatically transcribes bodycam footage and interrogation videos.

This tool allows prosecutors to review vast amounts of data efficiently, expediting case processing and allowing law enforcement to identify evidence quickly.

“This kind of solution can offer an edge to the UAE’s law enforcement, empowering prosecutors to review petabytes of data, file cases faster, and translate what is captured on a bodycam,” she said.

Reducing wait times

In her role, Harib oversees a dedicated team focused on introducing technologies to enhance public safety in Dubai.

She explained, "Dubai Police is offering an opportunity to academics and tech-enabled private sector entities to propose innovative solutions."

Dubai police has also already implemented technology and AI in their apps prior to the collaboration with the private sector.

"AI-driven policing improves community happiness and safety. The Dubai Police application, which uses AI and blockchain technology to automate its services, has already reduced wait times and dramatically increased productivity," she said.

These technology efforts are all directed towards changing the global mindset around the policing sector with the aim of inspiring agencies in other countries to do the same.

“Our role is to ensure that all communities feel safe, and it comes down to how we use technology to respond to emerging incidents. We don’t want citizens to come to Dubai Police, we want Dubai Police to already be a part of their communities,” she added.

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