Improving citizen experience with generative AI: Navigating a new era for state and local government


Last week, I wanted to find out the process for my fifteen year old daughter to get her first driver's license. Sounds simple enough. However, I ended up spending a good portion of my weekend searching for definitive answers — navigating multiple websites, without the option of asking a real, live person. In the very near future, I'll simply be able to ask a chatbot. The chatbot, using its natural language model trained on relevant government data, would provide a simple, step-by-step guide, explaining the entire process, required documents, and applicable fees. 

Using generative artificial intelligence (GAI), state and local governments have the potential to build applications that can interact with citizens in natural language, answering their questions accurately and instantly. Such an application — maybe in the form of a chatbot — could be trained on a diverse range of data from a state's databases, including information on tax regulations, public utilities, healthcare services, licensing requirements, and more.

Moreover, the GAI-powered chatbot could personalize its responses based on any previous interactions a citizen has had with it. For instance, in my driver’s license example, it could have provided specific information about the nearest office where my daughter could go to take her driver’s test.

In addition to being available 24/7, this GAI-powered chatbot can handle multiple inquiries at once, ensuring no citizen has to wait to get their questions answered. Such a system would drastically reduce wait times, streamline the information retrieval process, and enhance overall citizen satisfaction.

Harnessing GAI: The road to value discovery for state and local government

GAI has captured the spotlight across sectors due to its profound transformative potential. One such sector primed for disruption is state and local government, where applications like GAI and Elasticsearch® are ushering in a wave of innovation with broad-ranging implications for customer experience, data analytics, and beyond. Consequently, it’s imperative for government leaders to efficiently organize their internal data and understand how to harness GAI for enhancing citizen engagement.

Today, GAI is capable of creating customized content, engaging in personalized dialogue, developing images, and much more. However, the relevance of these outcomes hinges on the richness of the underlying training data. The naive approach might be to incorporate private data into these models, but the intricacies and associated costs of training or fine-tuning AI models, particularly in view of the diversity and interaction points in government, render this approach impractical.

Synergizing GAI with an agency's internal data can drastically expedite mission outcomes, bolster citizen services, and channel pertinent data to government employees when they need it most. The agency's internal data serves as crucial context, and the fusion of GAI with proprietary, institutional data can generate a formidable multiplier effect.

To actualize this, it's crucial for government agencies to consolidate their data on a unified data platform that ensures all information is readily accessible and traceable. This tactic not only amplifies the accuracy, relevance, and actionable nature of GAI outputs but also fortifies data privacy and security.

Balancing privacy, security, and GAI for state and local government

Officials at the state and local levels must guarantee that their sensitive data remains separate from publicly available GAI. Submitting any search query to a public GAI service implies a potential risk of your internal data losing its confidentiality. Hence, it's essential to integrate GAI with proprietary data in a safeguarded manner that reinforces data security.

By integrating proprietary data into a platform like Elasticsearch, which is purpose-built to handle sensitive information, government agencies can retain full autonomy over their data and implement role-based access control. This prevents the inadvertent exposure of sensitive data to public GAI services and ensures that pertinent information reaches the right individuals at the right time.

Elevating citizen services with GAI

GAI unlocks countless possibilities for refining citizen services and boosting employee productivity, including:
  • Streamlined citizen services: By deploying large language models (LLMs) in chatbots or virtual assistants, state and local governments can offer instantaneous responses to routine citizen inquiries. This automation significantly curtails wait times, freeing up human resources to tackle more intricate tasks, thereby enhancing efficiency and overall service quality.
  • Demystified information dissemination: Language models shine at dissecting complex government documents and policies. They can translate this information from bureaucratic “government speak” to simpler, everyday terms, guaranteeing citizens' access to crucial government programs and policies.
  • Feedback analysis: By processing extensive data from surveys, social media, and other sources, LLMs can identify recurrent themes and public sentiment. This enables governments to respond more effectively to citizens' needs and concerns.
  • Accessibility enhancement: Language models play an instrumental role in broadening the accessibility of government services. They can aid in the translation of government communications into multiple languages, ensuring no language barrier hinders citizens' access to critical information. Moreover, they can generate alternative formats, like audio descriptions, augmenting the accessibility for visually impaired individuals.
  • Informed policymaking and legislation: Empowered by LLMs, AI can sift through massive data volumes to yield invaluable insights on the potential impact of proposed policies or laws. This preemptive analysis helps pinpoint potential pitfalls prior to implementation, leading to informed decision-making and more effective policy outcomes.
  • Personalized education and training: Government agencies can leverage LLMs to tailor education and training for their personnel. These AI models can customize learning experiences based on individual knowledge levels, fostering efficient and effective training programs for government employees.

GAI + Elasticsearch + your agency data: A powerful alliance

The Elasticsearch platform serves as a powerful tool for integrating an agency's data with GAI. By using Elasticsearch, you can affordably store all your data in a unified platform for easy access, findability, and insights. The newly launched Elasticsearch Relevance Engine (ESRE) combines the best of AI with Elastic’s text search, providing the ability to integrate with LLMs and create generative AI search engines.

As we navigate this transformative era of GAI, it's clear that state and local government agencies are poised for a substantial paradigm shift. The combined potential of applications like ChatGPT and Elasticsearch promises not only to reshape public sector services but also to redefine citizen and employee experiences. The key lies in the effective management of data.

However, it's important to tread this new terrain with vigilance, ensuring data privacy and security aren't compromised in the process. With the right strategies, tools, and awareness, government leaders can leverage the power of GAI responsibly and effectively, leading their agencies into a new era of digital transformation that genuinely serves their citizens.

The release and timing of any features or functionality described in this post remain at Elastic's sole discretion. Any features or functionality not currently available may not be delivered on time or at all.

In this blog post, we may have used third party generative AI tools, which are owned and operated by their respective owners. Elastic does not have any control over the third party tools and we have no responsibility or liability for their content, operation or use, nor for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of such tools. Please exercise caution when using AI tools with personal, sensitive or confidential information. Any data you submit may be used for AI training or other purposes. There is no guarantee that information you provide will be kept secure or confidential. You should familiarize yourself with the privacy practices and terms of use of any generative AI tools prior to use.

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