Police concerned about 101 call bot’s ability to understand ‘brummie’ accents


West Midlands Police conducted a trial of a voice assistant powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to handle non-emergency calls. The trial, named “Amy101”, aimed to address the increasing call volumes faced by the police force. However, sensitive technical details of the plan were inadvertently leaked online in a document seen by the BBC.

The document raised concerns about potential risks associated with the AI, including its ability to understand local accents, such as the “brummie” accent. West Midlands Police assured that robust safeguards were in place to address these concerns.

The trial, inspired by Amazon’s Alexa technology, explored how AI could assist the police in managing calls and potentially offering services in different languages. The project involved a two-month proof-of-concept trial that was nationally funded.

Despite some challenges highlighted in the document, such as bias based on accents and safeguarding data, the police force remained optimistic about the potential of AI to enhance their services. The trial has now concluded, and the results will be shared at a national level. The government, particularly the Home Office, is also interested in the trial’s outcomes for potential wider applications.

Overall, the trial showcased the opportunities that AI presents for providing a more efficient and robust service for law enforcement.

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