Scottish Police Propose Allowing Crime Reports Through Alexa and Siri
Police Scotland is proposing allowing citizens to report crimes using voice assistants like Siri or Alexa. The idea is part of a draft strategy submitted by Police Scotland, the national police force, to the Scottish Police Authority, which oversees and regulates the law enforcement agency.
AI Emergency Calls
The proposal by Police Scotland would let voice assistants connect to the emergency 999 network in Scotland. Smart speakers, smartwatches, and voice assistants on smartphones. would fill in for when people aren’t able to quickly get to a regular phone to call emergency services. Once connected, the dispatcher would be able to use the device to record the call and possibly deploy a remote drone to the location, according to the draft strategy, with actual officers following up. With a smart display or similar device, the call could be conducted over video as well, giving police real-time updates on the situation they are responding to and plan accordingly.
“[The] next generation policing in Scotland is expected to use video and text for emergency contact and become less reliant on phone or website contact,” the police explained in the proposal. “Our existing platform has reached end of life, it is struggling to support our existing contact methods and cannot support digital transformation.”
Though just a draft proposal, the idea would likely face plenty of pushback from those concerned about privacy and whether it’s a good investment of resources to create the connection described in the submission. Right now, Alexa and other voice assistants can’t call emergency services directly in the UK or the U.S. Voice assistants can call 911 if it’s entered as a contact in Alexa or Google Assistant, however, and Siri can make the call from an iPhone by directly dialing from the phone function. All of the major voice assistants also offer features or third-party voice apps like the new Alexa Care Hub, that designate people as emergency contacts who will be contacted if the user asks for help. That person can then call the police or an ambulance.
Law enforcement and voice assistants are not usually connected during emergencies. There is a growing body of precedent when it comes to using recordings made by voice assistants during legal cases, but that’s well after the actual event. One way first responders may utilize voice assistants in the near future is when communicating with each other. For instance, Motorola Solutions created a high-tech walkie-talkie with a built-in voice assistant named Viqi last year. ViQi helps first responders operate the device and keep in contact with each other without needing to use their hands. There’s also the New Zealand police department’s AI officer, Ella. Ella combines AI with real-time animation to mimic in-person interactions between citizens and the police when they come to the police station.