Five Ways AI is Driving Innovation in the Public Sector — IdeaScale

Jessica Day |

With any public sector work, efficiency is key. Since governments are accountable to the people, and every dollar spent in tax revenue on their work, the pressure is high to engage in work citizens value the most. Fortunately, AI is helping drive innovation strategy and build better tools for the public.


The stereotypical view of the bureaucrat is someone sitting at a desk, rubber-stamping forms. Public sector workers do far more, of course, but there are still forms to be reviewed, checks to be cashed, and other repetitive work that has to be done.

AI can be trained to do this by learning to scan forms, interpret handwriting, transfer data, send email responses automatically, and other methods to free up time by merely distilling the tasks into a set of simple rules. This helps drive innovation strategy as well by asking workers to think of their functions in different ways.

Assistant Tools

We live in a world where you can ask questions of a device, and it can come back with an answer. Increasingly, these tools are becoming available in the public sector.

In public-facing areas, these tools can be used to save citizens time and energy; they can simply ask a question of a device via a chatbot or voice-activated app, instead of waiting in a line. On the public servant side, it offers a natural way to query databases, legal forms, and other reference materials without having to pull them down from the shelf or fire up a spreadsheet.

Data Analysis

Public organizations gather enormous amounts of useful data and are provided even more data by private concerns that interact with the public in various ways. Sorting this data and pulling out important patterns is crucial work that can better inform public initiatives, but it can be challenging to find the time to do so.

Automated algorithms can reach into, collate, sort, and analyze this data to find patterns and trends that can drive innovation policy and solve issues.

Quality Control

Mistakes are made in any system, whether it’s entirely human, entirely automated, or both. The best solution is to combine automation and human checkers to find errors and raise red flags.

Governments are using both humans and AI to their maximum advantage; the AI finds the basic common errors, while the humans look more closely at the more complex issues AI can’t see. In addition to good governance, this provides more data for innovators: If a form has a consistent problem across constituents, it’s a good target for innovation.


For innovation strategy, one of the fundamental advantages of AI is that it does what it’s told. It doesn’t omit data, it simply gathers that data and presents it in any way you’d like. This is invaluable in many ways.

For example, instead of complex tables of geographical data, AI can easily translate that data into a color-coded map that’s easily understood by every constituent, so that better decisions can be about real estate development and environmental stewardship.

To learn more about AI, innovation strategy, and how they help public service, contact us!

Originally published at on September 16, 2020.



IdeaScale is the leading innovation management software platform for the enterprise, government, and education. Gather ideas, implement them.

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IdeaScale is the leading innovation management software platform for the enterprise, government, and education. Gather ideas, implement them.