In 2019, a survey from the Center for Digital Government (CDG),* the National Association of Chief Information Officers and IBM found that just 13 percent of state governments reported using artificial intelligence in some noncore part of their operations. Three years later, the same survey yielded very different results.
At the NASCIO Annual conference in Seattle this week, Joe Morris with CDG presented some of the study’s 2021 findings, and it was clear that the COVID-19 pandemic changed how state and local government are thinking about AI. This year, 60 percent of respondents reported AI is currently in use in their enterprise; 6.7 percent said the tech is widely used across the state, up from just 1 percent in 2019.
The shift seems to have come in part from the spike in demand for government services in 2020 when the pandemic hit and states scrambled to find new ways to meet the high volume of citizen needs. AI-powered chatbots were the answer to fielding requests of overwhelmed call centers across the country, a finding the CDG survey confirmed: 60.4 percent of state respondents in 2021 reported used AI for digital assistants in the past 12 months. Other leading uses were robotic process automation (47.9 percent) and natural language processing (37.5 percent).