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Kainos: Four ways to leverage Data & AI to support the Government's 2025 vision #techUKSmarterState

This week (26-30 September) the Central Government Programme is running its Building Smarter State Week in the run-up to the eighth edition of our flagship public services conference, Building the Smarter State, which will take place at The Royal Society on Thursday 29 September. All week we'll be featuring guest blogs from members on topics supportive the agenda.

Read the latest blog below:

Never has more data been available to government however, in comparison to the private sector, government has many barriers that inhibit its uptake and use of data effectively. 

Government can be slower to adopt innovative tools and technologies which can impede their ability to leverage data, generate insights and transform citizen services. 

The new Government roadmap goes some way to addressing this issue and sets out a vision on how government can overcome these barriers. In this blog I will look at 4 key themes within Data & AI that can help support this vision and create services that can make people’s lives easier and safer. 

The use of data within government has been heavily scrutinised, mostly due to the lack of appropriate safeguards and ethical considerations in place. If harnessed appropriately, data and AI has the potential to impact every facet of how government operates whether that is generating efficiencies with existing processes, delivering better public services, or creating new jobs. 

There are a few government department trailblazers that are leading the way and have adopted innovative data and AI technologies – this trend continues to grow momentum but, to truly leverage the power of cross-sharing data initiatives, other departments must catch up. 

Given the advances in core AI technologies like machine learning, natural language processing, virtual agents, and computer vision, when put to work, they offer real, tangible benefits. 

But how can government leverage these technologies? Could government use the power of data and AI to make existing services better, cheaper, and more effective than they already are today? 

The new Government Roadmap for Digital and Data 22-25 sets out a common cross-government vision and a set of specific actions that government will take to realise opportunities and deliver value for the taxpayer.  

I have identified 4 emerging themes within the government that will help to support the objectives and mission statements outlined in the government roadmap and discuss tangible examples of how data & AI can be utilised to create efficiencies in service delivery, support better decision making, improve staff and citizen experiences and ultimately make people’s lives easier and safer.  

1. Predictive Services 

Organisations are using advanced analytics to accelerate problem-solving such as the number of employees required during peak operating hours and predicting when equipment is likely to fail. These predictive models can help governments move from their traditional reactive model to a more proactive model. 

  • Emergency services: can identify the potential locations where services will be required based on historic data and upcoming event data. 

  • Health and Social Services: allow respective services to design preventative steps, identify interventions, or predict supply and demand for services.  

  • Financial planning / cost-benefit analysis: financial modelling can be applied to existing policies or services to help better inform expenditure or investment required. 

  • Predictive Maintenance: by understanding when vehicles and infrastructure will need maintenance, the government can react early to prevent disruptions to services. 

  • Fraud: monitoring services for anomalies will help prevent tax evasion or benefit fraud.                            

2. Personalised Services  

Individuals will have a preferred channel for how they interact with and use government services therefore the ability to consolidate and interpret data to better understand and segment users will be critical to reducing bottlenecks and delays.  

  • Omnichannel delivery: integrate their communication channels offering a unified and seamless experience. 

  • Health care: tailored treatment for an individual’s condition or genetic make-up.  

  • Education: personalised educational plans could be created for students.  

  • Designing new services: by identifying and understanding unmet needs or by developing a better understanding of population/demographics, the government could create more inclusive services for example, for people in hard-to-reach / remote locations. 

3. Simulating cause and effect  

Governments could model events or scenarios such as natural disasters or experiment with policy options. Doing so could help government understand the knock-on impact these events will have on the future demand for services.  

  • Prepare for natural disasters: use data to predict and optimise the services they provide e.g., using historical flood data government could identify flood-prone areas. 

  • Digital twins: infrastructure management and city planning, governments could use digital twin technologies to accelerate their decision-making. 

4. Efficient Service Delivery 

AI-based process improvements have already helped organisations increase the efficiency of internal operations and processes.  Data and AI can help departments make better decisions, faster. 

  • Public Policy: availability of quality data could help inform and influence government officials e.g., new or amendments to existing policies and legislation.  

  • Victim and offender management: by identifying offenders and victims of crime, from modern slavery to hate speech and radicalisation, policymakers could measure the scale and scope of the problems and build countermeasures sooner. 

  • Health and Social Services: being able to flag high priority cases, within the relevant agencies, will enable them to prioritise caseloads and provide targeted support to those in need. 

  • Education: pinpoint which children will drop out of school, or be deemed ‘at risk,’ allowing authorities to reprioritise staff and identify countermeasures.  

Explore the potential of data & AI 

Government departments today should be investing in the necessary foundations to avail of the right technologies. This includes addressing the privacy, security, regulations, and standards considered with utilising data. In addition to investing in the technology skills shortage that is hindering innovation, this could mean collaborating with a technology partner to assist in upskilling, training, and development of their people. 

Data and AI has the potential to: 

  • Support decision-making (human-in-the-loop) and reduce errors in processing information. 

  • Reduce laborious administrative processing. 

  • Monitor operational performance SLAs and budgetary concerns. 

  • Enable experimentation with business models and services; and 

  • Ultimately enhancing service delivery and public experience. 

The benefits of AI are quickly being realised by some departments however, most government departments are yet to capitalise on the immense potential Data and AI technologies offer. There is a plethora of use cases for data and AI across government, their payoffs go well beyond cutting costs. The technology is not here to automate all our administrative problems but has the potential to significantly reshape how we work, provide better employee and customer experiences, and create unprecedented value for the wider economy. 

Lee Johnston, Kainos

This article was written by Lee Johnston, Data & AI Business Development Lead at Kainos. To learn more about this author, get in touch. To learn more about Kainos, please visit their LinkedIn and Twitter.

Building The Smarter State Conference - 29 September

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