Urenio Watch Watch: Innovation

New Report: Overview of the use and impact of AI in public services in the EU

The present study is addressing the role of AI in the public sector and providing an  overview and analysis of the use and impact of AI in Public Services. The main goal of the authors is to gather information on EU Member States’ initiatives on the use of AI in public services and develop a methodology to identify risks, opportunities, drivers and barriers.

This report is published in the context of AI Watch, the European Commission knowledge service to monitor the development, uptake and impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Europe, launched in December 2018.

The aims of the European AI strategy are:

  •  To boost the EU’s technological and industrial capacity and AI uptake across the economy, both by the private and public sectors
  •  To prepare for socio-economic changes brought about by AI
  •  To ensure an appropriate ethical and legal framework.

This study presents the first structured mapping of the use and impact of AI in public services in Europe and discusses implications for the governance “with and of” AI in a rapidly evolving global landscape. In particular, it delves into the following three main activities:

  1. Exploratory research and landscaping of the use of AI in support of public services in EU Member States through mapping and case studies;
  2. Proposal of a methodological framework for social and economic impact assessment, after the identification of the most promising public services using AI;
  3. Design of a generic implementation roadmap for the use of AI in public services, with guidelines and evidence based recommendations.

The authors aim  to shed lights on the actual use of AI technologies in the public sector, providing a review of AI adoption in public services in all 27 EU Member States, Norway, Switzerland and UK, and building a first inventory of 230 cases from which to extract indications, emerging trends, and illustrative examples of current AI usage. The analysis of the initiatives included in the mapping shows a wide range of AI typologies and use purposes, as well as of government functions and policy areas in which AI solutions are being implemented. The authors recognise the need to take a closer look at successful cases of AI implementation and learn from best practices to help further scaling out of AI solutions among Member States.

To address the need of better understanding the positive and negative consequences of AI use in public services, the research outlines a proposal for developing a methodological framework for impact assessment, that lays the foundations to support a future road-mapping of AI in public services throughout EU Member States at different levels of governance according to a public-value perspective.

The study is concentrated in the dual dimension of governance ‘˜with and of’ AI. On the one side, the authors recognise the importance to explore and assess the effective use and value added of AI to redesign internal government operations and public services to better serve the citizens and businesses and enhance quality and impact of services. On the other side, they consider crucial to better understand the potential benefits and risks of the use of AI in the public sector, and the governance mechanisms and regulatory frameworks needed to safeguard human rights and the ethical deployment of AI.

The evidence gathered in this report confirm the need to focus on human-centric AI and the opportunity of approaching Member States’ public administrations as a single platform. Future research should go more in-depth to increase our understanding of the conditions for AI solutions to be implemented in public services and supported by coherent policy actions.

Read the report here.