Too shy to approach a cop? Dubai’s virtual police officer will soon be at your service

You will be able to find First Lt Amna at malls and even speak to her in your native language


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Wed 18 Oct 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 18 Oct 2023, 10:45 PM

Dubai Police introduced a virtual officer at the Gitex Global technology exhibition that kicked off at the Dubai World Trade Center on Monday. First Lieutenant Amna greeted people and answered queries in both English and Arabic at the event.

I wanted to experience interacting with a virtual police officer firsthand and turned up at the Dubai Police stall at the Digital Cities section located inside the Sheikh Saeed hall. Turns out I was not the only one curious about Amna. I waited in queue for a while before I got my turn to interact with her.

Watch the video here:

“Hello, I am First Lt. Amna from Dubai Police, a virtual officer supported by the latest artificial intelligence technologies” she greeted me when I stepped in front of the screen. “I am a result of the constant and continuous efforts of my colleagues from Dubai Police team towards making Dubai a city of sustainable safety and security.”

She further added that her goal was to ensure the happiness of Dubai residents and enhance their sense of reassurance and calm in the city. She will be available for people’s service “on all available channels such as the Dubai Police app and smart police station.”

In front of the screen, there was a microphone and another small touchpad that allowed me to ask questions. As it is a prototype, for now Amna can only answer a set of six or seven pre-determined questions. I took my pick from the list that the police officers showed me and asked her about the fine for driving without a licence plate.

Although it took Amna almost a minute to process my question and answer it, the information she gave was accurate and up to date. “The fine for driving without a number plate is Dh3,000,” she said, before elaborating that the driver will get 23 black points and have his license suspended for 90 days.

“It is a serious offense that poses risk to public safety,” she continued, before advising people to comply with traffic regulations.

Based on a real person

What struck me the most about Amna was how realistic she looked. Dubai Police volunteers confirmed that the virtual officer was based on a real officer. “We have an officer whose name is also Amna,” said a spokesperson. “The assistant is based on her. We had cameras that took several pictures of her and then a virtual iteration was made based on these images.”

While there, I happened to meet Khalifa AlBlooshi, who was part of the team that designed Amna. “This is the first phase of the project,” he said. “The plan is to have several such assistants. For example, Amna will deal with general queries while another character Khalfan will be a specialist in some other topic.”

He also said that the virtual assistants will be able to communicate in 109 languages and will be across several public places including malls. “We want her to be the first point of contact for the general public,” he said. “She will be the friendly face that people will first approach when they want to contact the police or need information. Not every police officer will be able to communicate in multiple languages and some people may be shy to approach a police officer. The virtual assistant takes away such inhibitions.”


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