Indian Govt Has Been Quick In Adopting AI In Public Sector, But Can They Keep Up With All These Projects?

Governments across the globe are preparing for Industrial Revolution 4.0, and it is called as the game changer for the economies. Artificial intelligence can revitalise the public sector, improve the quality of life and give the countries an edge in military and combat operations. According to a report, when it comes to AI, there is both anticipation and dread within a wide range of organisations and industries; and the public-sector is no exception. Conversations with government executives suggest a lack of clear vision as to how AI applications may affect their staff and missions. That, however, is understandable since prior research hardly offers an actionable forecast.

Now as economies across the globe gear up for AI-augmented governments and are deploying cognitive technologies to rethink the public sector, a critical question that crops up is


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  • Would it spur the adoption of AI
  • How can one track the development in the public sphere

In the enterprise setting, AI-based technologies like machine learning, natural language processing, speech recognition and robotics are already making an impact. Governments across the globe are seeking cognitive technologies to improve and revolutionise their day-to-day operations in public sectors.

How Governments Across The World Are Using AI

As of now, the field of AI research is dominated by big entities such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and China’s BAT trinity. But governments from countries like China, Canada, US, UK, UAE, Singapore, South Korea and India have already laid out a roadmap for AI research, adoption and application of AI based tools in the public sector. In terms of research and adoption, Canada and China have grabbed headlines for mainstreaming AI-based applications and pushing the bar in terms of investment in R&D.

In the Indian scenario, according to a report by India-based Swaniti (a social enterprise initiative which works with parliamentarians and administrators to support projects and improve government schemes through technology) AI can bring improvements in areas that require swift and precise decision making.

Smart Traffic Management: Citing an example, the Swaniti team observed the system deployed for SMART Traffic Management. It is aimed at decongesting traffic and can prevent bottlenecks and reduce the number of accidents. The number of traffic accidents have risen from 6,937 in 2012 to 7,375 in 2016 — by 6 percent. AI can help traffic systems that produce massive amounts of real time data. In a bid to remove traffic accident hotspots, the Swaniti team worked with the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Karveer Subdivision in Kolhapur, to understand and introduce interventions to reduce accidents. The team collected data on various parameters like time and place of accident and type of vehicle from the last three years on about six to seven metrics. This data was further analysed and an algorithm detected the accident hotspots that allowed the traffic police team to deploy additional personnel in those areas. Thanks to the implementation of this technology, accidents came down by a whopping 33 percent.

Precision Decision Making in Fertiliser Subsidy: According to the report, for the last three years barring 2016-17, consumption of fertilisers has not managed to keep up with the demand by at least 5 percent. The Ministry of Chemical and Fertilisers has pointed out that the demand has been consistently over estimated. As per the report, the requirement of fertilisers needs coordination between the State Governments, State departments of Agriculture as well as the Central Ministry — a complicated process carried out by Indian Council of Agricultural Research. It also requires computation of various parameters such as climate, environment, policy and price metrics. AI-based tools can be used to factor in the parameters and provide monthly fertiliser, according to the requirement as well as districts.

How To Keep A Track Of These Applications In Public Sector

Over a period time, AI will spawn massive changes, transforming many public service sectors. Numerous researches and studies have shown that it will also help in the creation of new jobs. Areas such as precision farming, fishing and telemedicine, among others, will hugely benefit from deployment of AI technologies.

Here’s how one can keep a track of the numerous AI-based projects deployed in the public sector:

  • Deployment of AI technologies should start small and cannot be scaled to the whole sector in the initial stages.
  • There should be a clear identification of the use case or problem statement to align the technology with the goal.
  • The Government should build the necessary support framework — robust data infrastructure, technical talent to support the implementation of these technologies
  • India is in a position to leverage research and application and catch up with AI leaders like China, US and Canada
  • India has a thriving AI startup ecosystem, some that are involved in social entrepreneurship and tackling India’s social woes. For example, the startup Fasal aims at tackling precision agriculture with cognitive technologies.  


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Richa Bhatia
Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.

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