How GovTech uses AI to enhance digital public services
Artificial Intelligence is already changing the way we work and play, and the impact will only get larger as the technology is evolving rapidly.
Here at GovTech, we too are integrating AI into our services to leverage its promise, and also introducing the technology to various branches of the government as well.
Let’s take a look at how AI is already improving the lives of Singaporeans, as well as what potential it has in the near future!
The impact of “old AI”
The recent buzz has been all about generative AI in the form of text and image generators such as ChatGPT and DALL-E. But GovTech has already been successfully deploying AI even before this current stage of the technology. For instance, the One Service Chatbot has been in operation since 2021, enabling residents to report municipal issues such as neighbourhood cleanliness and facility breakdowns via a chatbot on WhatsApp and Telegram.
It handles some 30,000 cases a month, automating the extraction of case details, predicting the category of cases, and automatically routing the cases to relevant government agencies. The tool has saved about 2,000 man hours, speeding up case resolution by up to two working days.
Another area where AI is already having an impact is in identifying cases of dementia, where the longstanding practice of diagnosing the condition involves getting a specialist referral to a trained psychologist who administers a 30 minute test.
This process is being replaced by a drawing app that is being trialled with 1,000 seniors. The app challenges users to draw certain shapes or objects. The drawings are then evaluated by AI to determine the likelihood of dementia. Best of all, the test does not need to be administered by medical professionals.
As for the My Careers Future job portal, it incorporates a recommendation system (very much the same way Netflix suggests your next binge fix based on what you’ve watched) that uses 10 different AI models to improve job matching and help plan your next career move.
The promise of generative AI
With generative AI taking the world by storm, GovTech is exploring ways to integrate this groundbreaking technology into its services.
For example, the team is working with ChatGPT4’s new ability to evaluate not just text but also photos. If the One Service Chatbot is enhanced with this function, users can simply submit a picture of an HDB corridor cluttered with stuff and the chatbot will automatically generate a case for clutter posing a fire hazard and health concerns.
Generative AI’s ability to create video content in different languages is also a boon for multilingual Singapore, as there is the potential of creating instructional videos in multiple languages using AI-powered translation and voice generation.
AI can also take on the role of career coaching for people who are in the initial stages of pondering their next career move. An accountant who is considering a career switch to data science could enter the following prompt: “I am an accountant who wants to work in tech. My friends suggested the role of data scientist. Is it a good career move?”
The chat bot can reply within seconds about the common and different skills between an accountant and data scientist, compare pay scales, and recommend training courses with links to the Skills Future webpage. Tweaks can also be made to dial up the empathy in such career coaching bots.
How GovTech can move fast
There are several factors that have enabled GovTech to move fast in the realm of AI.
Firstly, AI – be it “old” or “new” – is only as good as the quality of data that it can access.
To that end, GovTech has been investing resources into assembling high quality data sets that can be used to train AI models for the purposes of the myriad public services in Singapore.
GovTech also has relationships with stakeholders at various levels. Regular communication with fellow public servants across different agencies and ministries, as well as with members of the public, means the team truly understands their needs and can focus on building products that meet those needs from day one. In addition, events such as STACK-X DSAID showcase thought leadership and foster productive discussion on the impact of AI, while the Singapore Government Developer Portal acts as a central repository of its AI projects.
Last but not least, a culture of innovation constantly encourages GovTechies to move at speed and iterate through various cycles of a product, allowing rapid experimentation and feedback.
To that end, Launchpad – a whole of government AI innovation platform – lets users pitch ideas, experiment, and see AI in action. Users can submit their ideas and then get the necessary tech support to build a workable prototype.
Scaling for the whole of government
GovTech is also planning for a future where the ability to use AI is a fundamental skill. It is coming up with a prompt engineering playbook, in anticipation of AI prompting becoming a core competency. It is also working with the Civil Service College to come up with a prompt engineering course.
At the same time, it is also developing a holistic AI framework so that the development and use of AI within the public service will be guided by a coherent, long-term strategy.
With that, we can ensure that the public service keeps up with the times, leveraging technology to remain world class into the future!