The NSW State Government’s Department of Customer Service is leading the development of a “whole of government AI strategy” along with usage guidelines for agencies, with the aim of leveraging the technology in a safe, secure and private way.

The department is currently working on a draft of the AI strategy which will be used to test with users and develop “key actions” over the next year, according to a post from the digital arm of the state government published this week.

The strategy will be discussed at the NSW government’s upcoming AI Summit on November 29th with the first quarter of 2020 being targeted for a release of the strategy.

So far, the department has conducted over 30 interviews with AI experts and users, as well as three public consultation sessions. The feedback, which will inform the draft strategy , shows  “a strong interest in NSW taking the lead on this area of policy development, and a commitment from stakeholders to stay involved as the policy framework is further refined”.

The department has also drafted a NSW Government User Framework which it says will give agencies toolkits for the procurement of AI solutions, essentially more practical guidelines on how to acquire and use AI solutions.

AI feedback

So far, the department says feedback on AI use by government falls into five categories:

  1. Building public trust:

Stakeholders say government has a responsibility to educate the public on AI and build trust by delivering positive community outcomes and managing the risks of AI.

  1. Best practice use of data

The data feeding AI technology must also be used safely and securely, including complying with privacy and data sharing requirements. Stakeholders asked the government for more clarity on what data can and can’t be shared and used with AI.

  1. Building capability in government

The government should lift its own AI capabilities, using it and other emerging technology to inform AI procurement, maintenance and to “inform service delivery”.

  1. Procurement

The department says feedback so far indicates stakeholders see opportunities to have the procurement framework “take more timely advantage” of technology like AI, including more proof of concepts.

  1. Innovation and collaboration

Stakeholders say they want a role in delivering better service delivery outcomes, which the department summarised as:

  • We need to leverage innovation capability in the SME sector.
  • Academia are eager to understand the problems we are trying to solve and to collaborate.
  • Government can be the creator of a bridge between industry, academia and agencies.
  • To innovate and solve our ‘wicked’ problems, we need expertise from outside government.
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