When it comes to the business environment, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has now made a permanent mark in the daily operations of several industries. The Public Sector is one such industry where AI is being increasingly adopted in the work environment with an aim to improve public transparency.
Today many Public Sector organizations are managing loads of inquiries across multiple channels. They have a great responsibility for adequately taking care of these through correct archiving and record-keeping to ensure that all decisions and documentation are transparent and accurate.
However, many employees are experiencing heavy workloads and pressure. Among the inquiries, there are a lot of repetitive tasks relating to replying to and archiving emails and documents. And when a special event occurs, such as a pandemic, vital information is at risk of getting lost in volumes. Errors in track recording can lead to a lack of public transparency and misinformed government decision-making.
These challenges are making the Public Sector look for technology avenues such as Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Process Automation to handle repetitive tasks in their operations in a more efficient way.
Why RPA did not work for the Public Sector
A few Public Sector organizations have adopted Robotic Process Automation as a way of streamlining archiving and record-keeping. However, this technology carries several limitations of its own. For example, RPA does not have the ability to read and interpret unstructured information (free-text) in emails and documents. Also, it cannot smoothly facilitate end-to-end automation that involves making informed decisions and performing appropriate actions based on the decisions.
Besides RPA, no other solution existed earlier that was good enough to meet the high demands and automation needs of the industry, which also includes being compliant with the EU’s strict GDPR act that regulates personal data use and data privacy. This is where Artificial Intelligence exists as a viable option for solving the democratic problem of improper documentation of public data. AI can also help the Public Sector save operational costs.
A radical change for the Public Sector in Norway
The National Archive Service of Norway recently embraced a change in Public Sector operations by adopting a Digital Employee solution developed together with Simplifai – a leader in developing AI solutions based out of Oslo. This Digital Employee solution can effectively handle repetitive tasks such as assessing and archiving emails and documents that comprise citizens’ data and other records. This solution constitutes a combination of four cloud-based software bots (three Emailbots and one Documentbot) that collaborate with each other to execute the task at hand.
In a recent interview with the National Archives of Norway, Daniel Kohn, CCO of Simplifai explains how emails are a difficult medium for a bot to understand.
“An email can be personal but at the same time be crucial to understand the process behind a decision,” he says. “An email often gives the necessary context for attached documents and is an extremely effective medium for communication in full context. The main challenge for automation, therefore, is that human communication in the free text needs to be understood correctly .”
He further explains, “Today, context often gets lost in public organizations as they receive large volumes of emails, and the employees do not have the time nor the capacity to archive all of these emails and maintain their record, resulting in a lack of public access.”
As an example, Daniel Kohn also mentions in the interview the lack of effective public documentation and difficulty in accessing it as the main reason for relevant information not being available and Norway public services closing in March 2020 during the pandemic.
“Everything related to this event, such as healthcare, treatment, and quarantine procedures, was most likely discussed and commented in emails. Here, our solution would have identified the problem areas and resolved it,” says Kohn .”
More time for work with automated archival and improved accessibility
A Digital Employee working 24/7 will make fewer mistakes than a human caseworker on a stressful workday.
“We train AI to read emails just like humans do. Our Simplifai Studio interface helps recognize sentence structure in text and enables people to express themselves through our solutions. And we teach them what should be archived, and what is not confidential. We see that it manages to recognize and process accurately about 90% of the emails. When it is not certain, it forwards them to the human employees,” explains Daniel Kohn .”
“Our goal is not to take away the jobs of human employees but to make them human again by freeing up more time for them to carry out tasks that demand some discretionary assessments. In fact, as per a Gartner report from 2021, 76% of government employees do not consider automation as a threat to their current job.”
Many employees end up doing repetitive tasks in organizations that become monotonous. As per the same Gartner report, about 50% of employees believe that automation will remove repetitive low-value tasks.
Legal challenges and data security risks
The problem at hand was not insurmountable but significantly challenging enough for Simplifai, considering GDPR implications and other privacy and legal concerns. Through the collaboration with The National Archives of Norway, Simplifai started making a Digital Archiving Employee handle individual emails using Natural Language Processing for data interpretation. However, before the solution could be implemented, Simplifai needed to ensure that, as a SaaS company, they adhered to the regulatory framework of GDPR and the Working Environment Act.
Simplifai is currently working on this part of the process in The Norwegian Data Protection Authority’s regulatory sandbox. Based on this, a guide on the solution’s implementation procedure is expected to be ready before summer.
Other potential areas for Simplifai Digital Employee in Norway Public Sector
Although Simplifai’s technology is primarily adopted in private companies working in the BFSI industries, it also holds a huge scope in Public Sector as well. Recently, the Trondheim Municipality started implementing some aspects of Simplifai’s technology in their work operations. Other public organizations, both national and international, are also interested, including prominent authorities in several major European cities.
Simplifai Digital Employees are industry agnostic – that is, they are suitable for any industry and across diverse business domains. When it comes to the Public Sector, Daniel Kohn – CCO of Simplifai opines how the solutions are suitable for other public welfare domains such as law enforcement, child-care services, and crime and police services.
Taking inspiration from the National Archives, other Public Sector organizations in Norway are expected to begin their respective sandbox programs for public data archival. In fact, Gartner reports that about 41% of government organizations plan to increase investments in business automation .
This will not only facilitate a standardized use of AI in the industry but also enable hassle-free access for the masses to public information with Simplifai’s Digital Employee.
Simplifai is an AI solutions company that provides end-to-end automation for businesses dealing with free text emails, documents, and chat communications.
Along with RPA, API, and advanced NLP technology. Simplifai offers AI modules and tailored solutions that work with any third-party system programmed to carry out specific tasks at the front- and back-end with high-grade automation.
 Survey Analysis: Government Workforce Remain Apprehensive About AI and Automation (2021). Gartner Employee Technology Survey.
 Digital arkivmedarbeider kan gi større åpenhet (2022). Stat & Styring, https://www.statogstyring.no/digital-arkivmedarbeider-kan-gi-storre-apenhet/