AI technology is already transforming the way people heat their homes, vacuum floors, organize photo memories and protect their property. Private organizations, too, are adopting AI technology such as business intelligence by Watson or Einstein Analytics. But what about the private sector? A common opinion is that governmental institutions are slow to adapt to the times and AI transformation in the public space may be no different.
However, since constituents across the country are inviting AI into their homes to optimize everyday tasks, they may begin to expect it from public institutions as well. Indeed, some government organizations are already on the bandwagon, implementing the resources of AI in a variety of areas.
“Public servants are using AI to help them make welfare payments and immigration decisions, detect fraud, plan new infrastructure projects, answer citizen queries, adjudicate bail hearings, triage health care cases, and establish drone paths,” writes Emma Martinho-Truswell in the Harvard Business Review.
Solving immediate problems is a great way to use AI technology, but there are other, more indirect transformative impacts to the public sector.
1. Determining staff needs
According to a performance audit by the Washington State Auditor’s Office entitled The Effect of Public Records Requests on State and Local Governments, the largest expense incurred when filing FOIA and other record requests is employee time. A predictive analytics program can study past years’ data and review news to forecast future trends. This can give agencies an accurate depiction of staffing costs to limit downtime.
2. Filing records requests
AI technology can even go further with record requests. It can deliver quick “yes” or “no” answers to simple requests and leave some of the more complicated matters to human workers. A detailed digital form can help ascertain fast responses for common requests.
3. Creating value workers
All these points work in conjunction: Freeing up your employees’ time to focus on complicated, human-orientated matters creates a new skill set for workers, one that eliminates the need for manual data entry. This helps workers build on their skill set and create more sustinable career paths for themselves. This in turn allows public institutions to employ value workers that are contribute at a higher level and have time to focus on creativity and innovation, which could potentially bring even greater contributions that will result in a better served, more satisfied constituency base.