Dubai might soon use ‘Vocal Emotions’ technology to gain a deeper understanding of emotional health of residents. The Smart Dubai Office, the government entity in charge of Dubai’s transformation to a smart city, has signed a cooperative agreement with Smartmedical. The technology was developed by Smartmedical after the tsunami in Japan in 2011 to track any potential mental disorders that may result from this disaster and help the families of victims and caregivers.
‘Vocal Emotions’ technology measures the types of emotions people are experiencing at a given moment by analyzing the tonality and other properties, such as pitch, rhythm, sharpness, speed and power of their voice. The technology can detect anger, joy, sadness, calmness, and vigor, based on tens of thousands voice samples. It works regardless of language because it looks at the properties of the voice, rather than what is being said. The technology is already being used by several private sector companies for referring employees to counselling or integrating into IoT (Internet-of-Things) products.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) includes research on the concept and design of ‘Vocal Emotions’ technology. This is in line with the Happiness Agenda launched by Smart Dubai Office.
H.E. Dr. Aisha Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of the Smart Dubai Office, said “After the success of implementing the Happiness Meters across the city, introducing ‘Vocal Emotions’ technology in Dubai is part of the next phase of the Happiness Agenda’s Measure portfolio. Using this technology, we now wish to have a deeper understanding of people’s emotions and sentiments, based on the results of which we will continue working with partners from the public and private sectors to further explore innovative ways of increasing happiness levels in the city, making Dubai the happiest city on Earth.”
Happiness Agenda and Happiness Meters
The Happiness Agenda was launched by Smart Dubai in May 2016. It is described as a ‘science-based approach to measuring and impacting people’s happiness, fuelling the city’s transformation’. Measurement is considered to be essential to the success of the Happiness Agenda. It was stated that Smart Dubai will research, formulate and implement a citywide happiness index and a predictive happiness impact score and supported by sustained discovery and measurement activities, a Happiness Experience framework would be introduced for unified city leadership planning using happiness impact forecasting.
At the time, Smart Dubai also announced the opening of the Happiness Meter to the private sector for measuring and monitoring customer satisfaction in real-time at service interaction touch-points throughout the city. It was already in use by 38 government entities. Happiness meters are in use by most government entities at their customer service centres, websites and online transaction points. These are connected to a central network operated by Smart Dubai Government Establishment that analyses the meters and send reports to the Dubai Executive Council identifying the geographical and government zones that are the happiest and most satisfied with their services.