Innovating City Services with Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI): A Strategic Exploration

City: Newport News, Virginia

Reporting to: Innovation Program Manager

The Challenge

Mayor Phillip Jones is prioritizing the exploration of Generative AI to harness breakthrough technologies to enhance city operations, improve resident services, and position Newport News as a leader in smart and sustainable urban development.1 This priority aligns with the city’s Strategic Priority (2020-2025 Strategic Plan) to become a forward-thinking city, leveraging cutting-edge solutions to address complex challenges and ensure a prosperous and technologically advanced future for all residents. City leadership aims to evaluate and define potential use cases across diverse city services, strategically engineering pilot endeavors with a primary focus on data-driven decision making, process automation, digital service delivery, or smart infrastructure. Given that generative AI is an emerging, under-regulated and rapidly advancing technology, city leadership believes that inclusive and responsible deployment must consider the following implications in line with the city’s principles around fairness, transparency, and community benefit:

  • Data Bias and Fairness: ensuring that the city data used is diverse, representative, and free from discriminatory patterns to avoid reinforcing inequities.
  • Accessibility and Digital Divide: ensuring that AI-driven services and information are accessible to all residents, and consider factors such as internet access, device availability, and digital literacy, particularly among marginalized populations.
  • Privacy Protections: establishing robust privacy protection measures to safeguard residents’ sensitive information.
  • Job Displacement and Workforce Impact: investigating the potential impacts of generative AI integration on employment and job displacement in vulnerable communities and reskilling and upskilling programs to mitigate any negative workforce consequences.

The city is in the preliminary stages of exploration and is conducting an initial high-level internal assessment of AI utilization. Notably, a chatbot has been deployed in the Waterworks department, representing a practical step into AI application. However, substantial untapped potential remains for further exploration into AI and its implementation. Other departments, including Human Resources and the 311 Customer Contact Center have indicated strong desires to use chat features to better connect with residents and potential employees. The fellow, working together with the Innovation Program Manager, will connect data analysis, market research, and program strategy to answer the following key questions:

  • What are practical generative AI use cases for local government operations? How can these use cases be prioritized based on feasibility, impact, and alignment with city goals? What are the specifications for each prioritized use case, including data requirements and key performance indicators (KPI’s)?

  • Which generative AI technologies and vendors are available in the marketplace? What are the capabilities, pricing models, and compatibilities of vendor technologies with the city’s infrastructure? What are the recommended technologies and which vendors are best suited for potential collaboration?

  • How is the proof-of-concept project plan designed, including methodology, timeline, and resource requirements? How is the proof-of-concept plan designed to be scalable and adaptable for broader implementation beyond the 10-week project duration? What are the KPI’s and success metrics identified for the proof-of-concept? How does the plan outline scalability and adaptability for potential future implementation?

What You’ll Do

To address these questions, the fellow will engage with key internal and external stakeholders to inform program design and implementation. These stakeholders include the mayor, city manager, and other senior leaders who play a pivotal role in endorsing and supporting the project, aligning it with the city’s strategic goals, the Information Technology Department, department directors, city employees, and technology vendors. Through engagement and research, the fellow will provide key inputs into identifying potential use cases for generative AI in city operations.

Key Deliverables Include:

  1. Use case identification (some of this groundwork might be complete prior to the fellow’s start):
    • Identify and develop potential use cases for generative AI in local government operations.
    • Prioritize use cases based on feasibility, potential impact, and alignment with the city’s goals.
    • Develop detailed use-case specifications, data requirements, desired outcomes, and KPI’s.
  2. Marketplace assessment:
    • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of currently available generative AI technologies and AI vendors in the marketplace.
    • Evaluate vendor capabilities, pricing models, and compatibility with the city’s infrastructure.
    • Provide recommendations on suitable technologies or vendors for potential collaboration.
  3. Proof of concept project plan:
    • Design a comprehensive project plan for a proof of concept for the prioritized use
    • Outline the methodology, timeline, and resource requirements for the proposed proof of concept.
    • Identify KPI’s and success metrics to measure the impact of the proof of concept.
  4. Interim progress reports:
    • Provide interim reports detailing progress, challenges encountered, and adjustments made during use-case development, marketplace assessment, and project planning.
    • Include recommendations for refining the project approach based on emerging insights.
  5. Final Evaluation and Recommendations:
    • Compile a final report summarizing findings, insights gained, and lessons learned from developing use cases, assessing the marketplace, and project planning.
    • Present actionable recommendations for the city to consider regarding the adoption of generative AI in specific local government functions.
    • Include insights on potential scalability, resource requirements, and long-term implications for each prioritized use case.

 
What You’ll Bring

The fellow will be expected to possess the following skills:

  • Data analysis
  • Qualitative interviewing and analysis
  • Preparing and delivering presentations
  • Proficient in using Microsoft Office Suite
  • Written and verbal communication
  • Policy analysis
  • Design thinking
  • Writing and editing
  • Understanding of and familiarity with generative AI preferred
  • Taking initiative

 

 

Endnotes

1 In a public council work session on 10/24/2023, Mayor Jones discussed AI: “He believed that Generative AI would be the future” (https://nngov.civicweb.net/document/255613/); in Mayor Jones’ bio, he states that his vision is to “modernize city hall processes” (https://www.nnva.gov/1012/Phillip-D-Jones-Mayor); in a 10/16/2023 press release related to the establishment of a High-Performance Data Facility, Mayor Jones referenced growing the city into “a greater hub of innovation and research” (https://www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2023/10/virginia-lawmakers-applaud-selection-of-jefferson-lab-to-lead-high-performance-data-facility).

 

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