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How AI Helps State and Local Governments Work Smarter

From chatbots to traffic management to garbage pickup, two Oracle leaders chart how artificial intelligence is already beginning to show promise in transforming and improving the business of government.

The rapid pace of change in our world shows no sign of slowing, and with this rapid change comes increased citizen and societal expectations. The digital age demands better speed, efficiency and simplicity in all areas of life. To rise to the occasion, governments have to be more tech savvy and more open-minded to digital transformation.

To do so, some governments are turning to new AI technologies. While the term AI might sound ambiguous, its potential and its applications are quite concrete. AI can improve mobility, advance education, protect food and water safety, decrease emissions, prevent crime, increase cross-border security and even save lives.

Let’s look at some ways AI can improve and reshape government agency operations.


The use of AI-powered chatbots and other self-service platforms offer an opportunity for governments to communicate with citizens whenever and however they want. Rather than being restricted to employees’ ability to receive, route and respond to calls, chatbots use automated systems to analyze messages with natural language processing and route it to the appropriate departments.

Citizens can also use these chatbots to report traffic accidents, infrastructure problems and other public safety hazards, or obtain information needed from the city. In turn, employees have more time to handle the important task of actually resolving problems. Best yet, citizens can more easily and quickly get questions and concerns resolved at any time of day.

The city of San Jose, Calif., is a prime example. The city created the My San Jose app, a mobile self-help platform and 311 system. More than 45,000 residents now use My San Jose to interface with their local government, giving officials a real-time dashboard of citizen requests. Staff have been able to prioritize resources for issues such as illegal dumping and abandoned vehicles, and redundant calls have been reduced by about 20 percent.


AI offers great insights and opportunity for improvement as governments better understand traffic of all kinds by using historical and real-time data to predict demand and ensure that services are always available at the right time. It can also identify areas that are more prone to congestion and traffic jams.

The city of Las Vegas, for example, invested in intelligent automation for vehicle traffic information. The city applied AI to its connected and autonomous vehicle initiatives in its downtown area. Lyft ran trials with 40 autonomous cars, and latest-model Audi cars can also receive data feeds from the city.


Governments can also use AI and analytics to determine the value of homes in their areas, as Los Angeles County has. As the largest local assessment agency in the country, the Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor reviews more than 400,000 property documents and completes 500,000 physical property appraisals each year. More than 75,000 houses are sold every year in this 5,000-square-mile county, making it difficult to conduct appraisals on every residence. Officials from the L.A. County Assessor’s Office employed machine learning and artificial intelligence to calculate if a home sales price was reasonable. By using 10 years’ worth of data — some 300,000 records — assessors cut in half the need for in-person appraisals and were able to effectively calculate the value of some 2.6 million properties.


AI has great potential for ensuring citizen safety. Local and state leaders can also use AI and predictive analytics to determine what areas of their cities and states are most vulnerable to the potential impacts of storms and other natural disasters. This data helps them to identify and prioritize how to dispatch rescue crews and which affected areas and issues to address first.

Governments can also turn to intelligent technologies to meet sustainability goals with things like smart waste management systems. Sensors at trash receptables can monitor waste levels in real time via a cloud-based dashboard. Once a container is filled, the system automatically triggers an alert for the city’s garbage truck fleet to service the location. Instead of emptying trash containers at set times throughout the week, they are only emptied as needed.


While much of the attention on AI innovation tends to focus on the private sector, there is ample room for public-sector organizations to adopt and implement AI solutions in order to improve the lives of those they serve. AI will have a significant impact on the way citizens experience and interact with government, and it can be a great tool to increase government efficiency.

Organizations can apply AI to tackle tasks like image recognition and document analysis; speech and language recognition for native and non-native language speakers; anomaly detection to flag mishaps and fraud; data labeling; forecasting critical business metrics from revenue to resource requirements and more — and AI’s potential will only continue to grow. For state and local organizations, AI will be key to finding more meaning in the troves of information already existing in their business applications, ultimately making processes more efficient and freeing up time and resources to focus on the citizen experience.

To take advantage of all that AI has to offer, public-sector organizations need a clear vision and concrete commitment from leadership to adopt AI in intelligent and transformative ways, and to ensure their workforce has the opportunity to learn the skills required to thrive in an AI-infused world.