3 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Producing Real Solutions for Government

Artificial Intelligence (AI) allows tasks that typically require human intelligence to be completed at machine speed. For government agencies, this means that they can make better use of the troves of data they hold for daily decision making, strategic planning, and citizen service.

Protecting the Bat Population

Bats are a critical part of the natural ecosystems as pollinators and in their role of natural insect extermination. However, many bats are at risk due to habitat loss. When they lose their natural habitat, many take to bridges as a new home, causing potential damage and even posing health hazards.

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Five Steps Toward Digital Transformation at the Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is keenly focused on improving the healthcare and general services that support our military veterans. Incumbent on these improvements is the integration of leading edge technologies that digitize and automate processes for efficiency along with important security enhancements.

 

 

ONE: Implementation of Electronic Health Records

The Department's efforts to modernize the way they store and access records for the nine million veterans they care for into a comprehensive electronic system has been well documented. These efforts involve upgrading all 1200+ VA facilities' existing systems to ensure better continuity of care, and are currently focused on moving EHR data to a cloud system that will be interoperable with the Military Health System. The ultimate goal is to ensure service members can seamlessly and digitally transition from DOD to VA health care, instead of needing to carry around stacks of paper forms as is current practice.

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Tracking the Movements of the Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation (DoT) has taken a leading role in the infrastructure plans of the Biden Administration. This connection makes sense given that the mission of the DoT is to "ensure America has the safest, most efficient and modern transportation system in the world, which boosts our economic productivity and global competitiveness and enhances the quality of life in communities both rural and urban." The success of their mission is contingent on the stability of roads, bridges, and rail lines -- key elements of our national infrastructure.

The bipartisan infrastructure agreement being used as a starting point for budget allocations includes America's largest-ever investments in public transit and bridge systems. The single largest part of the package consists of approximately $109 billion for roads, highways, and bridges. How this money is spent has yet to be determined. It could very well be distributed directly to states, cities and other local governments to repair their roads and bridges. From a federal perspective, currently Congress spends around $45 billion a year on highways and bridges. This plan would add on two years of spending to be used for federal grant programs run by the U.S. government or leveraged to underwrite private projects.

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Agility. Enabled by Agile.

Agility has been a key attribute for success over the past year and a half. Everyone had to quickly adapt in their personal and professional lives to do things in new ways to keep business and society running. Even the great bureaucracy of government found itself pivoting and quickly changing "how it's always been done" to meet the needs of the day. This should not end with the return to what feels like pre-pandemic normal. In the form of Agile methodology, Agility will play a huge role in the government's ability to continue the fast-forwarded digital push as a result of the pandemic.

Just as government pushed agencies to try Cloud with the "Cloud First" initiative, some are suggesting the same approach for Agile. An "Agile-First" evolution would have a huge impact on IT modernization efforts, accelerating the move from legacy processes and technology to a modern digital approach. The response to COVID-19 showed that the government can move quickly in changing how they do work (across all areas of government). An Agile-first "mandate" could institutionalize that speed and make it the rule rather than the exception.

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Using AI to Modernize Old Techniques

Artificial Intelligence is being implemented across government to modernize and automate traditional manual processes. For many organizations, this means taking paper-based, tedious, error-prone tasks and turning them over to a machine for automated completion. Beyond using AI to hand off tasks best completed by machines -- those that are rote and repetitive -- agencies are also looking at ways to introduce the technology into already complex human-driven activities to make them even more effective and efficient.

Researchers at Dartmouth College's Department of Computer Science have taken a technique that proved valuable in WWII and applied AI to extend the usefulness of the method. A canary trap is a technique that plants different instances of false information in documents. If one of those documents is leaked, the canary will "sing," identifying the leaker. For example, in WWII British intelligence agents planted false documents on a corpse to trick Nazi Germany into preparing for an assault on Greece while the Allies invaded Sicily. The team at Dartmouth created a modern version, WE-FORGE, that plants different instances of false information in documents. The process is relatively simple when creating a small number of variations in a handful of documents, but to extend it to large scientific or technical documents, AI is essential. WE-FORGE uses natural language processing to generate multiple fake files that are believable yet incorrect.

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