12/02/2024

A New Era Begins: AI Moments in Public Administration

Author: Daniel Knoll

Finally time for the humans behind the applications: AI keeps the administration’s workload low.

Many people will remember their first personal AI moment. These specific moments with AI also offer great opportunities for administration: Generative AI can help transform large amounts of data into usable knowledge and direct it to the right place in a user-centric way. For this reason, we have anticipated 9 moments where the discovery journey can begin. Grow with them!

I still remember my first real AI moment: In autumn 2022, I used ChatGPT for the first time and had a plan created for a long trip to Asia. The perfect holiday plan was created word for word before my eyes. I couldn’t stop marvelling: ChatGPT listed detailed locations, transfers with specific dates, interesting sights and even hotels – all tailored to the preferences and requirements I had entered. The work that would have taken me hours of research on booking platforms, travel blogs and Wikipedia articles was completed in seconds. Best of all, I could even ask questions and make refinements.

Although AI has played a role in our everyday lives for years – providing us with search suggestions, correcting our speech or anticipating the next word we type – tools like ChatGPT have given it a whole new quality: a sense of magic, a new intuitive accessibility and usability within a context-recognising conversation. In short, this development represents the first paradigm shift for user interfaces in 60 years. Users define their desired result for the AI in natural language (prompting) instead of clicking through a prepared offer with the mouse as before.

As an experienced designer, it’s clear to me that this will change everything. Also for our clients in public administration.

AI in the public sector: Innovation over administration

After a year and a half of AI hype, it is increasingly becoming a defining reality: the EU is working on an AI regulation, ministries such as the BMAS are issuing the first guidelines for the use of AI and the BMI is setting up an advisory centre for artificial intelligence (BeKI)  for the federal administration. The numerous, soon perhaps even millions of vacancies in the administration make the use of this technology virtually imperative. As a technological innovation, AI harbours immense opportunities to increase efficiency and reduce the workload. It also enables new, positive user experiences for employees and citizens alike.

Despite all the enthusiasm and curiosity, we also recognise the legitimate concerns when it comes to data protection, ethics and changes to working methods. We take these challenges seriously and know how to proactively address them on the way to trustworthy AI. We therefore firmly believe that the public sector should use the existing momentum to decisively shape digital transformation.

Now is the time: understanding AI as a problem solver

The technical quantum leap of Generative AI lies in the fact that highly developed basic models pre-trained with huge amounts of data are now able to take on various tasks. The implementation effort and therefore also the costs are significantly lower, as the application is based on existing solutions that are easy to refine. Instead of developing highly complex and expensive customised solutions, the public sector could benefit from variable and cost-effective deployment options.

Patents, for example: With artificial intelligence (AI), extensive documents can be compared with each other within seconds.

The key to proactive action lies in understanding the capabilities of AI as a problem solver. The new assistants make huge amounts of data manageable with unprecedented speed and efficiency. They can also create content of (almost) human quality. The dialogue-oriented control in natural language makes it much easier to access the technology. In various forms, Generative AI opens up new horizons in the digitisation of administration and heralds a new era of user-centricity, accessibility and efficiency.

Diligent tasks get free capacities

Used correctly, AI will provide new answers to the most pressing challenges of administrative digitalisation. In our white paper, we have selected three subject areas that reflect precisely this: Knowledge, processes and services. And we show which AI moments are already conceivable for public administration and would advance the public sector.

Knowledge without detours

  • when files of files become knowledge
  • when work is done in piles
  • when implicit knowledge becomes explicit

Processes without busywork

  • when routine tasks are already completed
  • when there is more time for important decisions
  • when the base for the text is already finished

Services without a waiting list

  • when barriers are simply overcome
  • when citizens receive answers immediately
  • when people are always understood

These AI moments are just a few examples of how AI can radically change the public sector, with positive human experiences taking centre stage. Diligent tasks finally become free capacity, allowing employees to focus on the people behind the applications.

All of this is already real

In our white paper  (German only), we show that AI in the public sector is no longer a fantasy and what possible applications already exist using illustrative examples from our customers from the Vater Smart Hackathon:

  • In its proof of concept, the DRV (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) is using AI to bring back retired SAP experts by making user manuals questionable with the SANI chatbot.
  • The Minijob Centre envisions a new editorial tool that provides editors with a good basis for their texts and thus saves resources.
  • The GTAI (Germany Trade & Invest) is clearing up the “funding jungle” for its customers and allowing investors to receive targeted advice on funding opportunities for foreign investments with its AI prototype.

All examples show: It is possible for public administration to utilise the AI momentum. We also present what the first steps in this direction could look like. And, of course, we will answer your questions about data protection, ethics and change.

Whitepaper (German only)

An administration that has the courage: how AI succeeds

To come back to my first AI moment: Of course, the travel plan that ChatGPT created for me in 2022 wasn’t perfect: the model did hallucinate some facts by providing incorrect information on certain details. Some hotels simply didn’t exist, some ferry connections had long been cancelled. Nevertheless, the plan was a first step that gave me a good basis. I learnt very early on what I can expect from the models, where the limits are, what information I should check again and, above all, how I can make better entries. I am convinced that we need to learn all of this for ourselves on a small scale and for entire organisations on a large scale. But this only works if we try out the tools, test initial use cases, start with models, prompt and provide the right data that allows the models to learn.

Get in touch with us and we will support you right where you are now.

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Daniel Knoll
Daniel Knoll
Design Director, IBM iX Berlin

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