Time for AI-powered governments

| Last Updated: 4 August 2022

The development of Artificial intelligence (AI) has created many solutions for the operational challenges’ governments have. Governments are using AI to manage multiple challenges in their operations, for example, to detect fraud, manage budgets, and make a forecast about energy consumption. In addition, besides solving these challenging problems, AI could have added benefits of providing data for evidence-based policymaking. This will enhance support for use cases and implement data-driven decision making. In the private sector, the AI investments and innovations mature, leading to an even greater opportunity for governments and the rest of the public sector to apply AI and push the boundaries of AI implementations.  

Even though the use of AI could be seen as challenging, more companies and governments need to focus on implementing AI to create additional value. AI could improve governments’ capabilities to increase value. It can detect weak signals, leading to development, refine, and generate numerous forecasts and insights. AI could also analyze an enormous amount of data providing real-time decision making. Both result in long-term value creation.  

A handful of governments already implemented AI and other digital technologies successfully, resulting in cost reduction and improved and expanded services. Only one challenge exists. Governments have been slow in this digital transformation and lag behind the AI-powered companies. Government decision-makers are most of the time cautious about pursuing big changes and investments in AI. The global pandemic has created a unique opportunity to consider this change. Government leaders have become more willing to deal with broad changes and are less contrary to adopt new technologies. The coronavirus changes the need for what people expect from their governments. The risk of doing nothing is way bigger than introducing new technologies and processes.   

How it lead to a better government  

Because of the coronavirus, individuals and businesses are asking their basic questions to the national government. For example, the number of hospital beds, medical personnel, and supplies. But also, the supply of supermarkets, public transportation, and other necessities people depend on. According to a BCG analysis, the use of AI-enabled tools during the corona crisis has shown policymakers the value of AI solutions. It is used to make the internal processes of the government more efficient and more accurate to people’s wants and needs. For example, in the US, the US Department of Health and Human Services is using AI to evaluate procurement data to detect cost savings and create visibility into the spending process.  

Overcoming resistance to implementation 

While it has been proven that the implementation of AI and the opportunities significantly enhance the functions and quality of the government, governments still have barriers to implement AI. This resistance could be created for example, because governments think AI implementation requires a large investment to update their data and computer systems.  

The resistance against the implementation of AI or other digital technologies is inappropriate. Leaders could overcome these barriers and risks. They have to start the implementation of AI small, and still need to think big. Implementing digital technologies or AI always starts on a small scale. The implementation of AI solutions could start with small, high-impact pilot projects. This means that companies or governments first do some experimentation that could disclose problems and errors. It also provides leaders with opportunities to mitigate later resistance to new digital technologies and process changes. Key performance indicators could be built into a dashboard to support the decision-making processes of the government.  

Besides, the adoption of AI should focus on building trust in the integrity and security of AI and data sharing. A BCG global survey of citizen perspectives on the use of AI in government showed strong support for implementing AI in core decision-making processes, such as tax and welfare administration, and the maintenance of public transportation.  

Now is the opportunity 

Governments should take the opportunity to extend their reach, reliability, and relevance through the implementation of AI and other technologies. Nearly every operational challenge of the government could be solved with this use. Especially in these times, the implementation of AI could ensure a way more productive, data-driven, and (time) efficient government. Using the scare time of people for the most important things and use software to manage other things quickly. Dashboards with current projects, neighborhood information, analysis, administration etc., are helpful at this time. It is a unique situation now to support the use of AI and other technologies.  

Read more on:
Abillama, N., Mills, S., & Carrasco, M. (2020, October 9). Now Is the Time for AI-Powered Governments. BCG Global. https://www.bcg.com/publications/2020/ai-powered-governments 

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