AI can deliver outcomes for government

From facial recognition and video analytics platforms to much quicker customer interactions, there’s a spectrum of potential government uses for artificial intelligence.

Right now, a broad range of manual and repetitive tasks is being completed and overseen by humans when complex working forms of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) have been around for decades. Just ask chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov, who lost a series of chess matches to a supercomputer called Deep Blue in 1997.

There is currently a tangible enthusiasm for driving digital transformation within government and a desire to streamline processes in the workplace, but this is tempered by a slight tendency towards keeping AI at arm’s length.

The Vault Digital Transformation Savviness poll conducted during the 12th Annual Technology in Government Australia event revealed the most common definition of digital transformation was “automating repetitive tasks.” Poignantly, the second most common response was “enhancing customer experience.”

These responses reveal the perfect case for ML and AI adoption within government departments who are looking to streamline their processes in order to deliver a better service to constituents, a utopian case of “everyone wins.”

A deeper dive into the capabilities and possibilities of AI reveal a broad spectrum of current and potential applications in government, many of which relate to security.

The utilisation of ML and AI can enable government to implement facial recognition and video analytics platforms, which can automate surveillance in sensitive locations such as airports, parliament buildings and critical infrastructure.

Once adopted, deep learning within AI enabled systems can flag fraud, suspicious behaviour, or inefficiencies at a rate of speed and accuracy that humankind simply cannot match.

A customer service application

However, it’s on the customer service front where government departments have the most to gain. Consumers have come to expect a lot from businesses in terms of fast, intuitive and efficient service due to their dealing with innovative digital-native businesses.

Many discussions about dealings with government are rooted in the realisation that their customer service experience with government departments does not match up to what they have come to expect in their transactions with Uber, Amazon and Apple.

But it doesn’t need to remain this way. Take as examples Centrelink and the ATO; two of the government’s most interactive and activity-rich departments have already started implementing an AI-based system.

As this technology continues to roll out across government agencies, it will dramatically reduce the duration of interactions – whether by collecting the relevant information while waiting for a customer service representative to become available or by answering common questions and completing simple transactions.

Furthermore, the same technologies that reveal fraud and security risks can improve citizens’ lives in more positive ways. It could identify citizens who may be short-changing themselves or fast-track lengthy immigration processes through biometrics.

The role of the cloud

Given that AI platforms and deep learning make substantial demands on computing hardware, the key to unlocking the full potential of AI within government lies in a scalable, secure cloud platform that can handle the volume of data reliably and in a manner that does not compromise the privacy of citizens.

Housing AI platforms in the cloud with the highest levels of security means government agencies don’t have to invest in new hardware while maintaining its performance.

Ultimately government, like any business, receives funds to deliver a service to its customers. By combining digital transformation with ML and AI, rather than treating them as separate entities, government agencies of all descriptions can increase efficiencies, public safety and customer satisfaction.

Tony Marceddo is the general manager of Vault.

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