The Portuguese Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI) has announced its plans to revamp the emergency phone service 112, starting from 2025. The major change involves the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) utilizing ChatGPT technology to handle incoming calls.
During the MAI Tech conference in Porto, deputy secretary-general António Pombeiro stated that if the pilot phase proves successful, the system will be deployed to answer calls from 2025 onwards. While acknowledging that AI is a relatively new technology, officials believe that its implementation will significantly enhance the efficiency of the emergency service.
The revised system will feature an automated chatbot that will initially respond to calls, particularly during busy periods when phone lines are congested. This measure is aimed at critical situations, including widely publicized incidents that prompt a surge in calls. By offloading initial call handling to the AI, stress on both callers and responders can be reduced, as extended waiting times for a human operator can be avoided.
The AI chatbot will evaluate the nature of the problem reported and provide a response in natural language, allowing callers to communicate seamlessly without being aware that they are interacting with a machine. Subsequently, the AI will determine whether the call needs to be transferred to a human operator based on its judgment.
Besides addressing peak periods, the integration of AI aims to filter out prank calls, which reportedly constitute around 60% of total phone line traffic. The AI system will be trained to identify and disregard common prank calls, streamlining the emergency service’s operations.
António Pombeiro clarified that the introduction of AI technology will not lead to layoffs as human resources will continue to play a crucial role in performing essential tasks. Instead, the goal is to optimize the efforts of human operators through the implementation of the new system.