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AI Strategy for Governments

The public sector can approach the use of AI both tactically and strategically.

Approaching it tactically would mean identifying low hanging fruit scenarios and applying off the shelf capabilities like RPA (Robotic Process Automation). As Phil Vincenzes describes writing for GovLoop the key dynamics to look for when considering where RPA might be applied are manual processes where they are highly repetitive, time sensitive and expensively error prone, achieving a quick, quantifiable ROI.

Building on this towards an overall strategic approach can be defined through looking at the procurement plans for North Lanarkshire Council, where they describe:

“The back office is fully digitised. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a common feature at the Council, taking over repetitive rules-based tasks e.g. invoice payments.”

as part of a general adoption of AI capabilities across the Council:

” artificial intelligence (AI) can already be used to respond to customer queries through chatbot features or even virtual assistants. By 2029, it is predicted AI will be at about the same level of intelligence as adult humans. This technology and others unlock possibilities for delivering services in radically different ways – if we invest in the necessary infrastructure.”

Integrated Health and Social Care – Harnessing Networked Intelligence

To explain the idea of ‘No Wrong Door Chatbots’, we can consider the keynote policy of Integrated Health and Social Care in Scotland.

This requires local councils like North Lanarkshire to work as part of a local Integration Authority, the intersection of local government with Healthcare, so that citizens are treated through a holistic model that blends their previously isolated departmental services into a single framework.

Previously local councils provided some aspects of social care, with centralized healthcare providing others. This attempts to unify them.

The challenge is that actually many more organizations are ultimately involved in providing care services, such as Third Sector social organizations. How they are all unified into a single delivery unit is the overall goal, and where technology like AI can be applied in a powerful way.

For example organizations like the Citizens Advice Bureau are one contact point for related citizen needs, and they offer a chatbot agent on their web site to handle these types of enquiries. Chat is a great customer service tool, it’s immediate and convenient for digital users.

However I used it a few times for queries I had and found i) even it’s basic intelligence was very limited – it didn’t remember me from prior visits, and really only acted as a ‘press 1 for this, press 2 for that’ menu navigation interface like you experience from call centres.

And ii) it served mainly to connect me to a human agent, who then was unable to answer my queries and could only direct me to my local CAB centre any way.

No Wrong Door Chatbots

Every one has experienced this frustration of being ‘passed from pillar to post’, and it’s common for highly departmentalized organizations like government.

So the core objective of a ‘No Wrong Door’ program is to standardize contact methods across different departments and organizations and synthesize their organizational knowledge, so that this type of referral isn’t needed. Every partner provides the same consistent interface, able to intelligently handle enquiries without passing them on.

For example as the Glasgow Homeless Network describes ‘2019 will be the year of No Wrong Door‘, applying this to better the needs of the homeless, requiring:

“collaboration across sectors – hardwiring multi-agency approaches into all of our interventions and ensuring Health and Social Care Partnerships are at the heart of what we do.”

In essence we can think of programming chatbots with this collective intelligence as the means by which this hardwiring could be achieved.

The knowledge that will be helpful to citizens needs is distributed across multiple organizations, their processes and subject matter experts. If an organization approaches chatbots as interfaces to only their services they will simply automate the silo effect; if instead they collaborate to create a pooled domain knowledge, a networked intelligence, and program chatbots with that bank of information, they create an intelligent touch point that can literally function as a No Wrong Door capability.

A critical point is that then this capability can be shared across all of them as a common function. Each organization can integrate it into their web site so that each offers this consistent engagement method, each offering the same No Wrong Door networked intelligence.

In the ebook we’ll follow up with reviews of technologies and vendor offerings, to define the specifics of how this scenario might be achieved.

Digital Scotland
Editor of the DigitalScot.net site.

GaaP in Scotland – Government as a Platform

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