AI will create 'personalised' online experiences for residents and 'free up time' for employees, council says

Peterborough City Council is also drawing up new guidelines on using AI responsibly
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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used by Peterborough City Council (PCC) to increase productivity and create “personalised experiences” for residents accessing its online services, a council report says.

In future, it will utilise AI even more, the report continues, to “eliminate repetitive tasks” and “free up valuable time for employees”, resulting in cost saving as they can then “support activities that are challenging to recruit for”.

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The council is also in the process of developing a new digital platform which will use AI to help gather customer feedback, it says, and it will also use the technology to “analyse how customers and citizens are digitally engaging with us over all channels”.

Peterborough City CouncilPeterborough City Council
Peterborough City Council

Another aim is to make PCC’s archive of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests more easily available using the technology, while another is to protect itself from cyber security attacks – particularly those that are themselves partially generated by AI.

What is AI?

AI isn’t particularly new, but has recently become more sophisticated.

Put simply, the term is the name for any process carried out by a computer which effectively replicates human intelligence: this could be problem solving, analysing data or generating text in such a way that it appears some level of judgement and decision-making has contributed towards the outcome.

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The publication of ChatGPT, an AI chatbot developed by OpenAI, last year, was a milestone for AI and helped to raise its profile – but lots of other companies including Microsoft and Meta are also involved in the production of new AI platforms.

PCC says that, “by leveraging such technologies, it will be possible to generate unparalleled insights, enhance operational efficiency, and the delivery of personalised experiences”.

This will include natural language processing (like ChatGPT), it says, which will help it to “understand customer preferences, anticipate their needs, and deliver tailored outcomes and support services”.

Automation of simple tasks and sorting through vast amounts of data quickly will also help to “identify patterns, trends, and correlations, and make informed decisions to optimise the council’s operations”, it adds.

Council will draw up guidelines for 'ethical and responsible' uses of AI

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As a fast-developing technology largely created by private tech companies, AI has been criticised for a lack of regulation and has also caused concern that it could replace some forms of employment.

PCC says that it will draw up guidelines for “ethical and responsible” use of AI in council business and that it will adopt an AI strategy “taking into consideration the potential social, ethical, and legal implications of this technology”.

Its use by the council is in the early stages, but ultimately, it says, it’s likely to affect all areas of its digital strategy which includes data usages and storage, internal IT systems, resident-facing online platforms and web services shared with council partners.