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Harnessing Generative AI for Problem Solving in Local Government

When it comes to getting generative AI projects right, we've learnt a few crucial lessons. The power of these tools means your strategy and objectives need to be crystal clear, identifying the problem you're solving and the desired outcome. This encompasses not just the solution itself, but the impact it will have. Having an aligned, organisation-wide vision is invaluable when framing problems or asking questions. Solving a problem quickly demonstrates the benefits of these tools. Using generative AI at a smaller scale helps build confidence and understanding of how these technologies work, while also addressing issues that need fixing.

For instance, generative AI can introduce more capacity in delivering frontline services by making daily tasks more efficient. It can also help clear backlogs of reports or plans, as AI can provide a solid first draft, which a human can then refine. Understanding a problem is key to defining the solution, especially with flexible technologies like AI, which can answer a range of questions. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve prevents wasted time experimenting with tools that don't meet your needs and mitigates the pitfalls of providing irrelevant information.

AI is engineer-led, not science-led, so it isn't defined by upfront principles. It requires a degree of tinkering, creating that first version and then honing it to get it right. Ensuring everyone is aligned behind a common goal keeps projects on track, keeps people engaged, and ultimately delivers the best solution. Generative AI and problem-solving are inherently tied together, particularly in sectors like local government where resources are low and demand is high.

So, how do we define problems? We use a workshop method to understand what's going on, identifying which processes or products need help. We then dive into these products to understand the steps within them, pinpointing where AI intervention can be most meaningful. Our greatest successes have often come from narrowly focused solutions, addressing even portions of steps where time is drained. 

We look for areas, especially with generative AI, where text-based processes are used in standardised formats. This allows us to discover a range of common use cases that can be solved by following nationally defined best practices. By finding the step best suited for generative AI intervention, we can deliver successful projects that free up staff time and create capacity for other tasks.

This approach can restore tasks to staff that were previously overwhelmed by paperwork or routine duties, or it can help identify other areas for improvement. Understanding and solving problems empowers staff to engage more, redefining their roles for the future of work in the age of AI technology.

Generative AI and problem-solving will continue to be deeply intertwined, especially in local government. By focussing on clearly defined problems and targeted solutions, local authorities can leverage AI to enhance services, streamline operations, and make the most of limited resources. This approach ensures that the implementation of AI is both practical and impactful, paving the way for a more efficient and effective public sector.

The Benefits of Using an Innovation Partner in Local Government Problem Solving

Local governments face a myriad of challenges daily, from managing limited resources to meeting the increasing demands of their communities. With the rise of advanced technologies like generative AI, there's a tremendous opportunity to streamline operations and enhance service delivery. However, leveraging these technologies effectively requires expertise and strategic planning. This is where an innovation partner comes in, providing invaluable support to local authorities. Here are the key benefits of using an innovation partner in solving local government problems.

Expertise and Experience

Innovation partners bring a wealth of expertise and experience to the table. They have a deep understanding of cutting-edge technologies and their practical applications across various sectors. This knowledge enables them to identify the most suitable solutions for specific challenges faced by local governments. By leveraging their experience, local authorities can avoid common pitfalls and fast-track the implementation of effective solutions.

Objective Perspective

An innovation partner provides an objective perspective on the issues at hand. Being external to the organisation, they can evaluate problems without the bias that might affect internal teams. This impartiality helps in accurately diagnosing issues and developing unbiased solutions that are in the best interest of the community.

Tailored Solutions

Every local government has unique needs and challenges. Innovation partners are adept at customising solutions to fit these specific requirements. They take the time to understand the local context, organisational culture, and existing processes. This ensures that the solutions they propose are not only innovative but also practical and implementable within the given framework.

Access to Advanced Technologies

Innovation partners often have access to the latest technologies and tools that might be out of reach for local governments due to budget constraints or lack of technical expertise. By partnering with these experts, local authorities can benefit from advanced solutions such as generative AI, predictive analytics, and automated systems, all without the need for significant upfront investment in technology infrastructure.

Accelerated Implementation

Innovation partners bring proven methodologies and streamlined processes that can accelerate the implementation of new technologies. Their experience in managing similar projects allows them to anticipate challenges and navigate them effectively. This leads to faster deployment of solutions, enabling local governments to realise the benefits more quickly.

Capacity Building

Working with an innovation partner also contributes to capacity building within the local government. By collaborating closely with internal teams, these partners can transfer knowledge and skills, empowering staff to continue innovating even after the partnership ends. This creates a sustainable culture of innovation that can adapt to future challenges and opportunities.

Cost-Effective Solutions

While engaging an innovation partner involves an initial investment, the long-term benefits often outweigh the costs. These partners can help local governments avoid costly mistakes and ensure that resources are utilised efficiently. Additionally, their ability to implement solutions quickly and effectively can result in significant cost savings over time.

Focus on Core Objectives

By delegating the innovation and technology aspects to a partner, local government staff can focus on their core objectives and responsibilities. This allows them to devote more time to strategic planning and delivering essential services to the community, while the innovation partner handles the technical complexities.

Enhanced Collaboration and Engagement

Innovation partners often foster a collaborative approach, encouraging input and feedback from various stakeholders. This inclusive process not only improves the quality of the solutions but also boosts engagement and buy-in from staff and community members. When everyone is involved in the innovation journey, the resulting solutions are more likely to be accepted and successfully integrated into daily operations.

The pace of technological advancement means that staying ahead of the curve is crucial. Innovation partners help local governments future-proof their operations by continually assessing emerging trends and technologies. This proactive approach ensures that the solutions implemented today remain relevant and effective in addressing tomorrow's challenges.

In conclusion, partnering with an innovation expert offers local governments a strategic advantage in solving their most pressing problems. By leveraging the expertise, objectivity, and advanced capabilities of these partners, local authorities can enhance their services, optimise operations, and build a resilient, forward-thinking public sector. Embracing such partnerships is not just a step towards modernisation but a commitment to delivering better outcomes for the communities they serve.


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