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6 ways AI can improve how government works right now

What: “AI-augmented government: Using cognitive technologies to redesign public sector work,” a report by the Deloitte Center for Government Insights that explores how governments can use artificial intelligence to become more efficient.

Why: At a minimum, AI could save 96.7 million federal hours annually, which would mean potential savings of $3.3 billion, Deloitte says.

Findings: AI can increase speed, enhance quality and reduce costs. Some of the possibilities include:

1. Overcome resource constraint: AI is much faster and more accurate at sifting through large volumes of information. The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission uses handwriting analysis software to speed the processing of 40,000 pages of disclosures it receives every month.

2. Reduce paperwork: The federal government spends a half-billion hours every year on documenting and recording information. Robotics and cognitive automation could perform data entry and paperwork processing in any number of areas -- for child welfare workers, for example, leaving them more time for interaction with children and their families.

3. Cut backlogs: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s backlog of patent applications hinders innovation, but cognitive technologies can sift through large data backlogs and perform simple, repetitive actions, leaving difficult cases to human experts. Robotic process automation can automate workflow, in some cases with little human interaction.

4. Enable smart cities: When combined with internet-of-things infrastructure, AI can monitor the surrounding environment to dim street lighting, monitor pedestrian traffic and adjust traffic lights to ease rush hours.

5. Predict outcomes: Machine learning and natural-language processing can spot patterns and suggest responses. Measuring soldiers’ vital signs with wearable physiological monitors lets the Army predict the seriousness of wounds and prioritize treatment, for example. The Southern Nevada Health District, meanwhile, uses AI to analyze Twitter posts to find restaurants where people reported food poisoning so it can direct investigations to those locations.

6. Answer questions: Automation can offload work from call centers that answer many of the same questions multiple times a day. The Army’s SGT STAR virtual assistant, for example,  helps recruits understand their different enlistment options, performing the work of 55 recruiters with a 94 percent accuracy rate.

Read the full report here.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a former reporter for GCN.

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