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Exploring the Positive Impact of AI in County Governance

close up of group of county officials pointing at information on documents

Artificial intelligence (AI) has brought groundbreaking transformations to various sectors including healthcare, agriculture, and government. At the county level, AI significantly enhances governance and has revolutionized the way local governments operate, offering innovative solutions to improve efficiency, transparency, and public service delivery.

In a survey conducted by the Public Technology Institute, local government IT executives provided some insights into the current state of AI within their county organizations. 58% of respondents believe AI will bring dramatic change to local government operations and service delivery over the next three years. In addition, 38% stated that their IT department is currently involved in an AI project, and ethics was ranked as the number one concern when utilizing these technologies. This shows that as long as AI is used ethically and proactively, it is gradually becoming more and more implemented into counties across the country and even the world. Let’s look at a few of the ways that local governments have been using AI to improve county governance.

Streamlining queries through chatbot tools

Jefferson County in Birmingham, Alabama is an example of a county that has implemented AI chat tools on their county website. These AI-powered chatbots can handle a wide range of citizen queries, from tag renewal information to public records requests, and even allow citizens to report potholes or other problems in their communities.

The tools are designed to ask for more information until they get what they need to best help individuals solve their problems. These virtual assistants are available 24/7, providing timely responses and freeing up county staff to focus on more complex tasks.

Improving infrastructure and maintenance

Smart technologies powered by AI are significant factors in managing and maintaining county infrastructure. AI can monitor the condition of roads, bridges, and public buildings, predicting maintenance needs before issues become critical. This proactive approach can save counties significant repair costs and prevent disruptions in public services.

Macomb County in Michigan is utilizing drones with high-resolution cameras to conduct underground infrastructure inspections, freeing up many hours for county staff and saving millions of dollars. The footage from the drones is then analyzed by a software program called SewerAI, which determines if any repairs or maintenance are needed. The use of this technology is much more effective and efficient than it was previously with multiple staff members spending hours analyzing and coding the infrastructure data.

Aiding citizens at risk for homelessness

In 2023, the state of California had more than 181,000 homeless individuals, which is up more than 30 percent since 2007. This is why Los Angeles County is utilizing AI to help aid its citizens; the Homelessness Prevention Program uses predictive AI to identify individuals and families that are at risk for becoming homeless and offers them financial assistance in order to keep them stabilized and housed. This program was launched in 2021 and has helped almost 800 individuals and families so far. 

The AI model used for the program was developed by the California Policy Lab at UCLA and provided to the county for free in an effort to promote positive social outcomes. Citizens are offered between $4,000 and $8,000, and 86% of participants have retained permanent housing after leaving the program. 

By leveraging AI, county governments can enhance their efficiency, optimize resources, and provide better services to their residents. As we continue to explore and implement AI technologies, the future of county governance looks promising, marked by greater innovation and improved quality of life for all citizens.



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