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California CIO Sees ‘Huge’ Potential for AI

In remarks Monday at the California Public Sector CIO Academy, state CIO Liana Bailey-Crimmins discussed results from a new statewide emergency alert system, and the importance of harnessing artificial intelligence and generative AI.

At a bright podium against a dark background, Liana Bailey-Crimmins, California's state chief information officer speaks.
Liana Bailey-Crimmins, California's state chief information officer and director of the California Department of Technology, discussed state technology work and the importance of AI, on March 18 in Sacramento at the California Public Sector CIO Academy.
Eyragon Eidam/Industry Insider — California
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Hold the course and continue to innovate; that was the message state CIO Liana Bailey-Crimmins delivered in Sacramento Monday morning.

Bailey-Crimmins urged attendees of the California Public Sector CIO Academy to “do more than just respond” in her keynote address, highlighting many of the initiatives the Department of Technology (CDT) and other agencies had gotten off the ground in recent years.

“As leaders who serve the public … , we all aim to improve the overall California experience,” Bailey-Crimmins said.

She highlighted the 2023 launch of the state’s emergency alert system, which allowed streamlined publication of alerts across state-owned websites, as well as an AI-driven system capable of alerting the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to the early signs of wildfire.

“In the first two months, it was able to detect 77 fires before any 911 calls came in,” she said.

Similarly, an initiative from the California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS) used data analytics to identify facilities that would need additional resources in the event of a natural disaster, like an earthquake or wildfire.

“From a single dashboard, we can see where long-term care facilities, day-care centers; when we need to evacuate or mobilize and get equipment to different places, this puts all of it at the fingertips of Emergency Services,” Bailey-Crimmins said.

The CIO also touched on the importance of harnessing AI and generative AI to optimize state government and streamline citizen services. On the heels of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s September AI executive order, Bailey-Crimmins said special attention will be paid to how this technology is procured and implemented.

“If we can use it to simplify and classify information, that is huge. If we're able to summarize different pieces of data tracks and be able to make quicker decisions, that is huge,” she said. “Imagine breaking down language barriers, where no longer our native language is a barrier for communication and collaboration. And making sure that services are delivered to those who need [them] most.”

Agencies have identified five proof-of-concept projects — with industry input — that will use artificial intelligence to improve operations. The Department of Transportation will use it to improve traffic safety and efficiency; CalHHS will use it to remove language barriers and streamline facility inspections for state and federal compliance; and the Department of Tax and Fee Administration is looking to use generative AI to improve the overall customer experience.

Bailey-Crimmins also called on IT officials to help close the digital access gap, noting that 1 in 5 California homes lack access to high-speed Internet service, compounding barriers to health care, job opportunities and education. Her agency is in the final stages of creating a digital equity plan, though she cautioned, “a plan is only as good as you act upon it.”

“This plan allows us to work with the federal government and give local grants that will be used to help break down those barriers,” she said.

“We need to break down barriers because there … is no equity without digital equity,” she added.

Another point of focus for the agency is single sign-on capabilities that would allow residents to access state services without the need to enter identifying information multiple times.

“We have 150 state departments … and thousands of programs, if you’re one of the 40 million Californians, sometimes you have to keep putting information over and over and over in every system,” Bailey-Crimmins said. “Imagine the day that you could just use one identity provider or multiple ones at your city services are automatically available to you.”

In May, CDT will be releasing its new strategic plan, Envision 2026.

This story first appeared in Industry Insider — California, Government Technology magazine’s sister publication.
Eyragon Eidam is the web editor for Government Technology magazine, after previously serving as assistant news editor and covering such topics as legislation, social media and public safety. He can be reached at