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The University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University and the National Police force are set to embark on a new collaborative project on the subject of artificial intelligence in the National Police Lab AI. In the years ahead, this lab will become the place for PhD candidates to do research on how artificial intelligence can be used to support the work that police do.

Still from video 'Politielab AI'. Image: ICAI

The automatic online processing of police reports and the analysis of hours of image material in seconds: these are just two examples of how the police could benefit from artificial intelligence. The long-term collaboration that the National Police Lab AI involves will guarantee the police rapid, ongoing access to state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology in the future.

‘Artificial intelligence will improve our operational strength’, says Theo van der Plas, Programme Director for Digitisation and Cybercrime. ‘The massive increase in the amount of data circulating in society and the rapid pace of technological developments are having a huge impact on the work that the police do. This collaboration will give us the knowledge we need to be able to respond to these changing times.’

Video and image analysis

Scientists of the University of Amsterdam working at the lab will focus on artificial intelligence applications that automate time-consuming police work and support difficult tasks. The University of Amsterdam will concentrate on extracting relevant information from large quantities of data, as computer programs are far better at recognising underlying patterns than humans are. If successful, investigators will no longer have to waste hours of valuable time studying image material for incriminating evidence. Armed with artificial intelligence, they will be able to benefit from fast, targeted searches in the future. The informatics research under way at the University of Amsterdam will be applied on the ground in actual police work without delay.


‘Utrecht University is developing a chatbot that will be able to “communicate” with people who are filing police reports online’, says Floris Bex, a member of the Scientific Directorate at the National Police Lab AI. ‘Once ready, the chatbot will know exactly which questions to ask to ensure that police reports are processed successfully.’

Seven PhD candidates

Four researchers will start their research at Utrecht University initially; three PhD candidates have already started their work at the University of Amsterdam. All of the candidates have a scientific background in artificial intelligence and most are employed by the police.

Collaboration with ICAI

The National Police Lab AI is part of the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI), a national network that focuses on developing artificial intelligence technology and talent in knowledge institutions, industry and government agencies. The National Police Lab AI opened on 16 January 2019.

Read more about this project on the website of ICAI