Cities Are at the Forefront of AI and Civic Engagement

Article by Hollie Russon Gilman and Sarah Jacob: “…cities worldwide are already adopting AI for everyday governance needs. Buenos Aires is integrating communication with residents through Boti, an AI chatbot accessible via WhatsApp. Over 5 million residents are using the chatbot everyday month, with some months upwards of 11 million users. Boti connects residents with city services such as bike sharing or social care programs or reports. Unlike other AI systems with a closed loop, Boti can connect externally to help residents with other government services. For more sensitive issues, such as domestic abuse, Boti can connect residents with a human operator. AI, in this context, offers residents a convenient means to efficiently engage with city resources and communicate with city employees.

Another example of AI improving people’s everyday lives is SomosUna, a partnership between the Inter American Development Bank and Next2MyLife, aims to address gender-based violence in Uruguay. In response to the rise in gender-based violence during and after Covid, this initiative aims to prevent violence through a network of support and “helpers” which includes 1) training 2) technology and 3) a community of volunteers. This initiative will leverage AI technology to enhance its support network, advancing preventative measures and providing immediate assistance.

While AI can foster engagement, local government officials recognize that they must pre-engage the public to determine the role that AI should play in civic life across diverse cities. This pre-engagement and education will inform the ethical standards and considerations against which AI will be assessed.

The EU’s ITHACA project, for example, explores the application of AI in civic participation and local governance…(More)”… See also: AI Localism.

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