The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the public sector to automate functions like record-keeping and citizen services allows governments to focus on the more serious and non-routine issues.
Government bodies deal with massive amounts of data that has been traditionally stored on paper and is handled manually. Although the emergence and growth of digitization have made government processes more efficient, there is still much left to be done regarding data management and service delivery speed. Improving the data management capabilities of governing bodies requires more intelligent processing, which might require hiring more people. The alternative to this is using AI in the public sector units to enable faster and more accurate data gathering and processing.
Uses of AI in the Public Sector
Preserving and Retrieving Records
Government bodies, as part of their responsibility, handle massive amounts of citizen data on a daily basis. This includes collecting and classifying new data (e.g., birth records), updating the existing data (e.g., transfer of land ownership between citizens), and disposing off redundant records. Manually performing these tasks lead to inaccurate record-keeping, slowing down the government processes. Using AI for maintaining government records, as is being experimented by many government record-keeping bodies, can lead to error-free data storage and ease the retrieval of data as and when required.
Providing Citizen Services
AI can make interactions between governing bodies and resident citizens more convenient by automating citizen services. This includes payment of utility bills, filing of taxes, license renewal, lodging complaints, and giving feedback to local authorities. Although these processes have been digitized in the recent times, they are not fully automated and hence not as efficient as possible. AI can automate processes such as generating bills and processing payments, answering citizen queries, routing complaints to the concerned authorities, and issuing and renewing documents that do not require a high-level of authorization. These processes require scouring through and processing data sets that may be large in diversity and volume, which may cost a lot of man-hours. An AI-powered system can perform such operations with relative ease without compromising on accuracy.
Regardless of the number of law-enforcement personnel employed by governments, mitigation of crime has been a major challenge for governments. To maintain order, law enforcement bodies need to constantly monitor the population within their jurisdiction to lookout for the potentially criminal deviants. Despite having myriad surveillance cameras and other sensory devices installed in public places, authorities find it difficult to keep track of the massive amounts of data generated and to effectively prevent or react to crimes. Using AI and machine learning, the data generated by surveillance devices can be analyzed in real time for anomalies and threats. Law enforcement agencies are already using AI to track missing children as well as wanted criminals using image and voice recognition capabilities.
Planning and Policy-Making
Governments can use AI to gather information like public opinion by analyzing the social media trends. This can help in formulating public policies that address the most relevant issues at hand. AI can also be used to support city planning and development initiatives. For instance, AI-based applications can analyze the hourly flow of traffic through city streets and derive insights that can support the government in making decisions regarding laying new roads, optimizing public transport and traffic signal timings to improve public transportation. AI can also be used to understand the public sentiment on political issues through social media monitoring, which will enable lawmakers to make better decisions regarding public policy.
The use of AI in the public sector can not only enhance the day-to-day functioning of governing bodies but can also aid effective long-term planning to shape the government. Using AI to automate the operational day-to-day functions can enable the authorities to focus on more complex and long-term social and cultural issues.