Artificial Intelligence in the public sector, a pending task

Artificial intelligence in the public sector

Has AI been implemented in the public sector?

Interest in Artificial Intelligence and its applications is growing, but is not reflected in public administration. 80% of the public sector is interested in AI but only 33% use it, according to a study by Ernst & Young for Microsoft, which shows the low penetration of this technology in the public sector.

The fundamental objectives for which organisations use AI, as the report indicates, are to reduce costs, improve efficiency and generate value. This is regardless of the type of organisation, its size, or whether it is public or private. In recent years, innovations such as cloud computing and AI have been fundamental to the growth of some companies. The innovation of their products and services are important too, as well as to optimising efficiency. The report indicates that companies and organizations already using AI-based solutions on a regular basis emphasize not only the technology itself. Development of employees’ skills is also relevant.

Public organisations in Europe are slowly moving towards a point where the use of Artificial Intelligence is beginning to yield tangible results. Situations such as the one experienced by the pandemic highlight the fact that using Artificial Intelligence correctly is of great importance to the public sector. Where collective work is of utmost importance to mitigate the effects of the disease, the use of AI can make a significant difference.

Using AI in public services

Each branch of the public sector will face its own challenges. This will depend on the scale of its operations and the services it provides. Even so, artificial intelligence has general benefits that could be applied to all of them. For example, National Grid maintains the cables and towers that transmit electricity from power stations to homes and businesses across the UK. This company has succesfully implemented AI to help in the maintenance of his infrastructure.

Another example is in the field of justice in Spain: in order to be at the forefront of new technologies – in particular AI – two years ago the College of Registrars created an innovation committee to analyse emerging technologies in the market and how they can be integrated into the organisation.

The report also demonstrates that successful organisations have leaders who are actively involved in planning, deploying and evaluating AI initiatives. Microsoft notes that in most cases initial scepticism about the technology is quickly overcome as managers try out AI themselves and experiment with models that help them perform their functions more efficiently.

For any public entity, the most important thing is to create and maintain a climate of trust, both for its workers and for the citizens, that makes everyone feel comfortable with the use of Artificial Intelligence. Establishing clear guidelines and transparent processes is fundamental.

Is AI training necessary?

AI offers organisations the opportunity to benefit from improved operational processes, as tools with AI components can help manage simple or repetitive tasks.

Today there is a wide variety of free training options and online educational content, Microsoft itself has free courses in its AI Business School. Reorienting training helps to maintain the company’s knowledge, which is vital for Public Sector organisations, but also represents a great opportunity to increase the level of employee commitment.

Even so, it is important to ensure that organisations have the necessary skills to use these tools is to foster a culture of continuous training. This is not limited to studying courses, but instead understands the value of learning as a means of improvement and innovation.

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