Oct 19, 2023 - News

Mayors test out AI tools in city government

Illustration of a human hand and a computer cursor hand engaged in a handshake

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Mayors worldwide want to use generative AI in cities, from chatbots taking citizen concerns to visualizing urban planning.

Why it matters: Harnessing AI could help cities provide faster and more efficient services, but the road to adoption hasn't been tested and many Americans distrust the technology.

Driving the news: Mayor Muriel Bowser is meeting with more than 100 mayors at Bloomberg Philanthropies' three-day CityLab summit in Washington this week, where leaders tackle issues from public health to downtown recovery, and now AI.

  • More than three quarters of 80 mayors surveyed by Bloomberg said they wanted to use AI in city management.

Yes, but: Hardly any are actually doing so. New York City is among the pioneers, after Mayor Eric Adams this week announced an AI plan.

The intrigue: At Wednesday's event, Bloomberg launched a new platform, City AI Connect, for city leaders to test and develop AI tools.

How it works: AI tools could track traffic patterns and help find solutions for congestion, for example.

  • Chatbots can expand language access.
  • One of the biggest benefits could come through faster paperwork processing, which the private sector is beginning to use. Cities could benefit from AI helping speed up applications for driver's licenses or qualifying for housing vouchers.

What they're saying: "Its purpose is to strengthen the human effort necessary to manage and deploy generative artificial intelligence in city halls, not to replace it," the City AI Connect mission statement says.

  • Bowser has declined to say whether D.C. would consider integrating AI tools into city government.
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