The project

In Europe and worldwide, the interest for a legal application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – and thus its utilisation by the security forces – is growing steadily. This technology has great potential, nowadays not fully exploited, as its possible employment spans across different domains, such as antiterrorism, crowd security and criminal investigations. However increasingly beneficial, resorting to the AI for these purposes is also becoming at the same time controversial. In the last years, several wrongdoings have undermined the public trust toward this approach; the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica and Live Facial Recognition scandals, together with the “Snowden’s case”, are good instances of human misuse of the AI.

According to multiple stakeholders of the civil society, an abuse of the technologies behind the AI could undermine the core values of democracy, exposing the security forces to privacy issues, racist behaviours, or an overcontrol not strictly required to prevent illicit acts. The lack of clarity, transparency and concrete regulatory framework further feeds justifiable reactions from multiple societal stakeholders. Swift and efficient actions are needed to ensure that EU maintains a leading role in the global “AI race” while honouring and enhancing the perception of the Union as an area of freedom, justice, and security. 

popAI aims at addressing these concerns, fostering a constructive dialogue between the European policymakers, the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), and the ordinary citizens. The final aim is to enhance trust in the application of AI and AI-enable mechanisms in the security domain, by increasing awareness, social engagement and gathering knowledge and expertise from multiple sectors (e.g. academic and non-academic actors). This approach will offer a unified European view across LEAs (Law Enforcement Agencies), while encouraging the creation of an ecosystem that could provide the structural architecture of a sustainable and inclusive European AI hub for Law Enforcement. Moreover, the project will delineate a roadmap for the implementation of AI systems in the short term (focusing on certification and compliance) and in the long term (addressing potential future scenarios and risks related to the use of AI).

Work carried out in popAI is implemented within the following three main work pillars:

1. Analysis of theoretical legal, ethical, social framework related to the use of AI tools in the security domain

2. Empirical Research on the AI tools in the security domain, raising awareness, societal acceptance and ethics

3. Final recommendations/best practices/white book, coordination and networking activities with Stakeholders across Europe, with other sibling projects on SU-AI, AI01-2020 (ALIGNER) and AI02-2020 (STARLIGHT) to spread of the research results identified during the project and to assess and generalise the research results with them. In addition, a set of carefully curated policy briefs will be provided aiming to bring human-centric, socially driven, ethical and secure-by-design AI for the security domain at the core of the most important policy debates in Europe. 


The mission of popAI is to engage citizens and LEAs in order to improve their perception of security, produce ethically sound guidelines for future use, and foster a human-centric and socially driven AI for security.

This overarching goal will be achieved by accomplishing the following specific objectives:

Objective 1

Provide an exhaustive and taxonomy mapping of AI functionalities in the Law Enforcement domain, legal, ethical, social and organisational aspects, including inter-correlations through trans-disciplinary analysis

Objective 2

Provide a practical Ethics Toolbox for the use of AI by LEAs

Objective 3

Engage civil society and raise awareness to the general public for a European positive sum approach for use of AI in the security domain and safeguarding of fundamental rights

Objective 4

Facilitate knowledge exchange, improve and consolidate knowledge among EU LEAs across all relevant aspects

Objective 5

Facilitate advances in implementation of human-centred, socially-driven ethical- and secure by design AI in support of Law Enforcement

Objective 6

Provide recommendations across stakeholder segments and AI roadmap to 2040 for policymakers, LEAs and the security domain ecosystem stakeholders

Objective 7

Ensure and promote gender-diversity for assessment and implementation of AI tools across all aspects in the current and future usage of AI systems in support of Law Enforcement

Objective 8

Pave the path for the establishment of an EU AI innovation hub for LEAs and the broader Community

Project structure

Work on popAI is organised in five work packages, each focusing on a critical aspect of the overall objective of the project and serving its core objectives.


Project Management

It entails all work related to the management of popAI, the risk management and quality assurance processes, and the coordination of the reporting and financial management of the project


Security AI in the next 20 years: trends, practices, and risks

WP2 will lay out the baseline for project activities, researching and formalising the framework for identifying trends, prospects, practices, and challenges of using AI in security


Empirical Knowledge Collection and Management Framework

WP3 will systematically collect views and experiences from variegating stakeholder groups and civilians


The pandect of recommendations for the ethical use of AI for LEAs

WP4 will analyse the collected information to identify main points of discourse and produce recommendations for the ethical and efficient use of AI in Law Enforcement and security in general


Dissemination, Communications and Sustainable Community Engagement

WP5 entails the dissemination, community building and awareness raising activities of the project, while also producing and presenting the Security AI Roadmap of the project, that culminates the project’s findings and proposes pathways for the ethical usage of new technologies in the domain in the future

The popAI ecosystem

In its mission to increase awareness, foster social engagement and define a unified European view towards AI-based technologies in support of Law Enforcement, popAI gathers together organisations and institutions across Europe, thus building an ecosystem of diverse actors fostering dialogue and knowledge sharing on AI topics. 

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