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MANAGEMENT UPDATE.

A NEW RESOURCE: CITY AI CONNECT

With expanding potential uses for generative artificial intelligence in the world’s cities, a new resource called City AI Connect was launched last month at Bloomberg Philanthropies City Lab 2023. The new website provides a workspace for city employees to communicate with each other about what they’re doing, how they’re thinking and what they’re learning about the potential for this rapidly advancing technology.


The goal is to enhance data-driven decision-making, with the potential for dramatic service improvement, powered by advanced machine learning algorithms. At its start, experts envision that generative AI will bring a greatly enhanced ability to predict trends, improve emergency response, eliminate paperwork, reduce processing delays, and contribute to the design of “creative solutions that can transform government delivery.”



The new web-based workspace is housed at Johns Hopkins University, managed by the Bloomberg Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) and available for city employees here.  Admission to the website is open to users who have a city email address, with some vetting envisioned to verify city employment. (At this moment, since we don’t have a city email address, we cannot see for ourselves how the website is functioning.)


As of November 7, 153 users had signed up, but numbers are expected to grow rapidly. As the website grows, creators envision digital forums, virtual events, “anonymized case studies” and a place for leaders to have conversations about their work, with access to aggregated data, a repository of blueprints, and technology experts.


Of course, forum users can also exchange information on problems, pitfalls, ethical dilemmas, and all the hitches that will inevitably also accompany city experimentation.


Surveys by Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with the Centre for Public Impact, show the need for the site. Of 80 mayors surveyed from around the world, 78% were interested in leveraging artificial intelligence “to streamline administrative processes, enhance data-driven decision-making and improve citizen engagement,” according to a Bloomberg Philanthropies press release. 


Research of 53 global cities by Bloomberg Philanthropies finds that so far, only 2% have already started implementing generative AI technology, while 60% are exploring it and 9% are engaged in testing. Barriers currently include “a lack of awareness,” and “insufficient digital fluency and technical expertise.”


More details on research findings are available in the October 18, 2023 report, “State of Cities: Generative AI in Local Governments.” 


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