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Does AI Have a Part to Play in the Public Sector? Citizens Seem to Think So.

Hand holding AI-powered smart cityArtificial intelligence has streamlined operations in nearly every field of the private sector. Many believe it’s time for government agencies to hop on board.

You don’t need to look very far to see that artificial intelligence (AI) has become increasingly integrated into modern life. Through smart assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Nest, the home automation industry has brought AI technology into our living spaces to provide on-demand weather updates, set adaptive cooling and heating schedules, and much, much more. The medical field has also benefited from these technological advances. Every day, AI-driven tools are helping eliminate unnecessary hospital visits, secure patient records from cyberattackers, and reduce the amount of time doctors and nurses spend on paperwork.

Despite the impressive progress that many industries are making with the support of AI, the public sector continues to trail behind the private sector in its adoption of new technologies. A 2019 Accenture survey found that citizens around the world are interested in seeing more government-run organizations incorporate digital and AI-enabled services into their daily operations. According to the survey:

  • Fifty percent of respondents said they would use digital government services more frequently if AI were used to make the services faster, more efficient, and more courteous.

  • More than 50 percent of respondents said they think AI would contribute to more accurate information.

  • Seventy-five percent of respondents said they think AI would be able to make decisions regarding eligibility and case management as fairly as humans do.

When implemented effectively, AI can help government agencies meet these (and many other) demands, allowing the public sector to reap the rewards of the digital era.

Chatbots: Ubiquitous and Beneficial

Nearly every industry has implemented chatbots in some capacity, due in large part to the efficiency with which they connect patients, customers, and citizens to critical resources. Thanks to machine learning, these bots are able to provide individuals with accurate replies in mere seconds — often faster than their human counterparts would be able to.

In the public sector, chabots can help citizens quickly access public data and records, report complaints or concerns, pay their taxes and bills, receive assistance in their native language, access omnichannel services and support 24/7, and more. While widespread adoption of chatbots has yet to occur in the public sector, several government agencies have been early adopters of the technology.

For example, the Los Angeles Business Assistance Virtual Network (LABAVN) has a multilingual chatbot called the City Hall Internet Personality (Chip, for short) that assists hundreds of people each week. Chip utilizes machine learning to increase its knowledge of answers based on repeated customer queries. Since Chip’s implementation, LABAVN reports a 50 percent reduction in email traffic. The Department of Homeland Security’s chatbot, Emma — named after Emma Lazarus, the writer whose poetry appears on the base of the Statue of Liberty — is another example of AI in action in the public sector. Emma understands both English and Spanish and handles approximately one million immigration- and citizenship-related interactions each month.

Through chabots like Chip and Emma, government agencies can drastically reduce the amount of time spent manually answering each individual question they recieve. This helps ease employees’ workloads and boost customer satisfaction, making AI a win-win for everyone involved.

Using AI to Deliver Human Services More Effectively

According to recent studies, government caseworkers spend more than 60 percent of their day manually filling out paperwork, a process that is not only time consuming, but error-prone. In many cases, AI technology can perform these tasks faster and with greater accuracy. This allows caseworkers to spend more time doing what they love — helping people — and less time handling administrative tasks. In light of the high rate of turnover among social workers, this is an important benefit that should not be overlooked.

AI also has the potential to boost an agency’s bottom line. One study found that automating simple tasks could free up anywhere from 96.7 million and 1.2 billion working hours each year in the federal government alone. This translates to savings ranging from $3.3 billion to $41.1 billion.

Optimizing the Future

AI has the power to transform the public sector. A properly designed and well-implemented AI platform can reduce costs, minimize service delays, improve employee satisfaction, and provide a better overall citizen experience. At present, many government bodies are daunted by the thought of AI integration. They fear it will be overly complicated or, worse, entirely ineffective. This is where third-party contractors come into play.


At Epiphany Management Group, we’re committed to providing best-in-class IT support services for software and device rollouts. We are a multilingual, HIPAA-compliant remote IT support provider with experience working with a wide variety of clients. Contact us today to find out how we can help your agency tap into the many benefits of AI technology.