Artificial Intelligence: Where Do County Governments' Investment Priorities Lie?

Analytics is the top bet.

by / July 20, 2017
Center for Digital Government, Digital Counties 2017 survey

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), the top investment priority for county governments is data analytics.

That’s the finding from the 2017 Digital Counties survey from the Center for Digital Government*, which is now beginning to explore AI and how government plans to use it. Counties participating in the survey ranked various uses for AI, and together their priorities were:

  1. Analytics
  2. Infrastructure inspections
  3. Benefits eligibility
  4. Automated traffic control
  5. Robot controls/robots

All of those areas represent technology currently available today, though some applications are more mature than others. When it comes to AI analytics, for example, some people are using machine learning to crunch traffic data and get a clearer picture of infrastructure needs, while others are using the tech to keep up with cybersecurity trends and detect malicious activity faster.

Infrastructure inspection technology is likely to use AI for object and pattern recognition in photos and videos: A drone with a camera could fly out to take photos of bridges, for example, and then software could examine the pictures to find cracks in the concrete. Or AI could watch data coming in from sensors in water pipes to tell which ones will need replacement soonest.

Benefits eligibility — or lack thereof — also has a foot in the door in government. The company Pondera uses AI to red-flag potentially fraudulent benefits claims. Other companies are looking at AI as a means of parsing out whether people who apply for one type of government benefit are likely to be eligible for other kinds of benefits, and which ones.

Artificial intelligence represents a new line of questioning in the Center for Digital Government’s surveys, so future data releases should shed more light on how government is using and planning to use AI at various levels.

*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.