Artificial Intelligence in the Delivery of Public Services

Report16 Oct 2019

The report, jointly prepared by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and Google, showcases successful models of leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) for improved public services in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Although AI is a widely discussed topic today, case studies on how AI is concretely applied in the public sector are rare. The report aims to fill the gap and features insights as well as context-specific recommendations from deployments of AI in a variety of sectors: health, justice, agriculture, environment, insurance and social welfare.

Public-private partnerships will become increasingly important to complement government initiatives with industry knowledge and expertise. Amid the rapid pace of technological development, the report recommends that governments develop frameworks to regulate these partnerships and encourage more public information on AI projects to foster a landscape conducive to informed decision-making on AI partnerships.

Since applying AI in the public sector is still at an early stage of development, setbacks and a trial-and-error process may be inevitable. Case studies in the report highlight how a competitive selection process may spell the way forward to discover and initiate pioneering AI technology in public service delivery. Through thorough research and contestation, both the private sector and public benefit in the learning process of developing AI solutions.

The report is one of the outcomes of a Memorandum of Understanding initiated between ESCAP and Google in December 2018 to share good practices and solutions on promoting AI for social good.