AI Guardia Civil officers to serve rural areas

The Ministry of the Interior has put out to tender the specifications of the pilot project with which it seeks to implement “super-realistic avatars” of agents based on artificial intelligence to, through interactive screens, manage citizen attention in Guardia Civil posts.

In the general description of the project, the initiative is related to the strategic modernisation plan of the Armed Institute, mentioning that “currently, practically all of the areas considered at risk of depopulation are located in demarcation under the responsibility of the Body”.

The pilot project “Virtual Guardia Civil”, with a maximum budget including extensions of 604,814 euro and a duration of two years from January 2024, refers to “the best care for citizens residing in Spain due to the demographic challenge and the professional and personal conditions of the members of the Corps”.

“The need to launch a project based on the artificial creation of super-realistic avatars with the corporate image of the Guardia Civil that, through artificial intelligence and its integration into a natural language interface designed for interactive screens, becomes evident. “They will be deployed in locations and points in Spain facing the demographic challenge.”

According to Interior sources, this is a pilot project that will be implemented first in Majadahonda (Madrid) and Torrevieja (Alicante), and what it aims to do is install virtual reality panels to establish a “first filter” when managing some procedures carried out by citizens in Guardia Civil offices.

Although Torrevieja has suffered from depopulation, it is not normally considered “rural”, and it had been the location of a similar pilot project around 8 years ago, where a small booth was installed so that members of the public could interact with a live officer through a screen and camera. It didn’t last.

The Unified Association of Civil Guards (AUGC) has related the project to the “worrying situation experienced in empty Spain due to the lack of police presence”, mentioning the “closure of barracks and the reduction of staff.”

In a statement, AUGC points out that the department headed by Fernando Grande-Marlaska seeks to “alleviate the lack of personnel in the rural world with super-realistic virtual avatars of artificial intelligence that will appear on monitors dressed in the regulatory uniform of the Guardia Civil, in order to provide a more efficient response and improve the conditions of service provision to citizens.”

“We are in favour of this implementation and the use of new technologies, in this case artificial intelligence to help Guardia Civil agents in the work of meeting the demands of citizen security, but on the other hand we disagree on that this measure be implemented as a replacement for the physical presence of the Guardia Civil agents, the units and especially in empty Spain”, AUGC stated.

Independents of the Guardia Civil (IGC) has also denounced that the imminent implementation of artificial intelligence devices in certain areas of the rural area, since it “reveals the urgent need to increase the staff of agents who guarantee effective citizen security and quality”.

“Given the nature of the rural locations of emptied Spain in which these devices will be installed, the handicap of the social reality of those territories is added, in which the average age of the population is very high, and consequently the Potential users are going to have serious difficulty relating to and trusting a machine,” IGC noted.