The Face in the Machine: Facial Recognition Application in Government

When your grandma is using her face to unlock her iPhone, you know a technology has gone mainstream. Facial Recognition "is a biometric software application capable of uniquely identifying or verifying a person by comparing and analyzing patterns based on the person's facial contours." In the last four years, there has been a jump in the use of the technology as vendors have begun to use convolutional neural networks (CNN), a deep learning methodology and algorithms, for model training. A National Institute of Standards and Technology test of vendors in 2018 showed a 95% reduction in error rate compared to a similar test completed in 2014. Applications of facial recognition in government include security (access to devices, data, and physical locations), law enforcement (matching video footage of a crime to a database of suspects), and identity verification for travel.

While the technology has come a long way, many argue it still has a way to go before it can be used widely in areas as critical as criminal justice and security. There are calls for regulation by the FTC and other federal entities. While there are accuracy benchmarks that vendors must pass to be used in government, in many cases, the groups used in benchmarks are not as diverse as those that the system will interact with once fielded. Regulation proponents argue that much of the facial recognition technology was designed with the majority of subjects being white males. When the system faces (pun intended) women with dark skin, the accuracy they promise plummets significantly.

With these challenges both in technology and policy, there are a number of events to help sort out the next steps in introducing facial recognition. Continue reading

The Next Frontier of Citizen Experience

Citizen Experience is a focus of the President's Management Agenda and the resulting IT Modernization Centers of Excellence. This focal point is a result of government receiving poor customer service marks (ranking them on par or below cable companies) year after year. Agencies have evolved from requiring citizens to visit a government office to fill out sheets of paperwork to online portals that provide much of that same paperwork online. It quickly became clear, however, that simply moving paperwork online was not the answer to improving citizen experience with government. Today the technology exists to take that online interaction to the next level.

Social media, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), video chat, text, and chatbots are being used throughout government to give citizens a more direct and personalized digital line to the agencies that serve them. Cities are using IoT to better communicate the whereabouts and schedule of public transport as well as air quality levels. AI is powering website chatbots and search functions allowing for more self-service of citizens looking to conduct business with the government 24/7.

But technology alone will not improve the government's customer service scores. The culture and morale of the government workforce also plays a huge role in the service that is delivered to citizens. Service representatives in government should be trained on new systems and shown how technologies will enhance, rather than replace, their jobs. Continue reading

A New AWS Snowball Edge Provides The Power Of The Cloud In Disconnected Environments

From time to time GovEvents will come across information we feel our members and audience would benefit from. Here's something we wanted to share from Bob Gourley, Founder and CTO at Crucial Point LLC:

 

For the last decade enterprise architects have all known the importance of engineering continuous connectivity to cloud services. If you want to use the cloud you have to have a path to it.

For parts of the enterprise who may operate at the edge, where connectivity can be an issue, it has been hard to design solutions leveraging public clouds. Depending on the organization, edge users might have some mix of public cloud, private cloud, datacenter access and local compute, all complex and hardly optimized at all. Continue reading

Innovation is Local

Local governments are quickly becoming home to some of the most innovative applications of big data, analytics, machine learning, IoT, and artificial intelligence. This embrace of new technology is borne out of necessity. Local governments have had to get creative to meet the needs of citizens, demanding a more digital government, while dealing with tight budgets. Cities have introduced apps that allow citizens to report potholes, they have installed "smart" lighting to conserve energy, government organizations have opened up data to allow people to apply for permits online and see the status of their case, and so much more. Additionally, local governments are taking a new look at how to better use and correlate all of the data they hold to enhance city and public health planning.

In the midst of these exciting applications of new technologies, there are challenges. Privacy is a huge concern, both from a data perspective as well as images and information captured from IoT devices across a city. There's also a communication and publicity challenge. Citizen-centric apps and services do no good if people don't know they exist or don't use them. Similarly, there is a learning curve for employees and citizens, and developing the right training to encourage new technology use is critical. Continue reading

The Future of AI in Government

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer just a plot line for science fiction movies. The reality of AI is not walking robots threatening to take over human tasks, but instead it is being implemented in our daily lives to complement the way people work and learn. For example, known by their first names Alexa and Siri, these AI figures will soon overtake Cher and Madonna as the most famous one-named women in the world (if they haven't already). AI is also what enables the instant customer service "representative" to pop up on a website to help answer basic questions. With its commonplace use in the commercial market, AI and machine learning are making their way into agencies across government.[Tweet "AI and machine learning are making their way into agencies across government. #GovEventsBlog"]

AI is becoming a key tool to help streamline response to citizen questions as citizen (customer) service has become a top priority across all government agencies. The IRS is beginning to use chatbots to help manage the 75 million phone calls, and 500 billion website visits from taxpayers each year (a number that will likely grow with tax changes). There's also interest in how AI can improve cybersecurity posture by automating more and more cyber monitoring so that systems are responding to threats at machine speed. AI also holds the answer to many big data challenges. The speed of automated machine processing can help agencies get more value out of the massive amounts of data they own for improved service, programs, and mission achievement. Continue reading