Dubai Government Departments Adopting AI to Provide POD-Friendly Services

  • RTA, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Airports and Dubai Police among leaders in adopting cutting edger solutions
  • Technology solutions are being implemented across all government facilities, shopping centres, airports for helping People of Determination

Public facilities and government departments are fast adopting Artificial Intelligence to provide better services for People of Determination.

Experts from various government and private entities participated in a Majlis hosted by the Dubai Youth Council as part of the Knowledge Hub during  the recently concluded AccessAbilities Expo said, AI is playing a major role in enhancing the quality of life of POD and the UAE government is taking a lead in adapting the technology.

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning technology is fast transforming the scope of assistive technology and is bound to change how governments and organisations develop services and applications for people with disabilities, experts said.

Ahmad al Aktari from the Community Development Authority said AI experts have been helping various departments and organisations to develop services and solutions to people with determination.

A representative from Dubai Municipality said they, in association with CDA, are working with all government departments to enable smart building features to assist PODs.

“Be it government facilities, shopping centres, airports, police stations and all facilities accessible to the general public, we have made sure that the buildings follow the best practices and guidelines,” he said.

“AccessAbilities Expo, organised by Nadd Al Shiba PR & Event Management, has emerged as one of the biggest such events in the MENA region, bringing together various technology and solution providers under one roof.  “It has created a platform for interaction especially among the decision makers and youth from both the private and public sector, thereby contributing to policy related discussions and enhancement of the overall life of people with disabilities,” said Salem Saqur Al Marri, Member, Dubai Youth Council.

The discussions also centered around the role in AI in visual communication and sign language, advancements in Natural Language Processing, voice recognition, voice to braille conversion, applications and services developed using artificial intelligence and how they are impacting assistive technology. Discussions were also held on how technologies such as machine learning are able to change the way solutions can be delivered to people with disabilities with little human intervention.

Representatives from major government departments explained the ongoing works within their departments and explored how AI could further help improvise the solutions they offer.

“Technology has had a defining impact on policing and law enforcement. It has also helped us advance the services that we offer to the residents, especially to those who need our special attention,” said Abdulla Al Shamsi from Dubai Police.

The barrier of communication has been broken using technology. Traditional services like where PODs press a button to activate an alarm are giving way to sensor technology leading to smart track, smart readers and even smart police stations. “Today PODs can do a video conference with a police officer. To help people with speech and hearing impairment, we use sign language and camera and AI to interpret the sign language and face recognition and produce a transcript on the screen,” he said adding that smart police stations can offer 24/7 services with little human intervention.

“AI technology is nascent but emerging fast. There are advancements in the development of artificial limbs. NLP has gained newer capability where they are able to more precisely decipher an image,” said Al Marri.

Explaining the potential of tourists with determination, a representative of Dubai Airports said the emirate is being positioned as a hub for tourists with disabilities.

“We are leveraging the power of AI to advance many of the services and facilities. We are developing software and applications that can identify POD right when they are disembarking from the aircraft and entering the facility and direct them to all available services,” he said.

Rafik Gerges, Data Security Officer with Microsoft, said the company is involved in teaching coding and programing to people with hearing disabilities and people with dyslexia. “We are teaching them how to build computer games and share with friends. We are also teaching them programing skills and problem-solving skills, thereby raising their confidence level.  We are getting feedback from many of the students who want to be engineers or game developers,” he said.

Microsoft has also been enabling various service providers across the globe to integrate AI in providing better services to PODs.

“We are collaborating with Moovit, a mobility as a service provider to integrate AI to build maps customised for wheelchair users. There are about 350,000 users in the region who will be able to use this service,” he said.

In another example he said Vimbi, a technology firm in India with the help of Microsoft AI has developed a software that can read any printed book and convert it into braille. This has directly benefitted more than 100,000 students.

Microsoft is also working with another tech firm in Illinois in the United States which is using AI models and training them to understand the way people with Down syndrome speak and translate into text. “This becomes helpful when they talk on zoom or other special applications,” he said.

The event also explored developments of robots that can cater to the needs of individuals with customised solutions and their ability to perform routine tasks. “We already have robots that can be used as personal assistants to people with disabilities. However, within the next two years, we will be able to introduce advanced features which will enable the machines capable enough to auto learn from its interaction with PODs and acquire advanced knowledge, said Ali Riza Abdul Gafoor, Chairman and CEO, Aliriza Group, UAE.