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AI in public administration

Can AI help municipalities protect privacy and residents' trust in them - and strengthen local democracy?

29 February 2024

Tietoevry is helping multiple Norwegian municipalities harness the power of Artificial Intelligence to protect the privacy of citizens.

Norwegian law requires, with some exceptions, correspondence to and from public entities to be made available to the public. The correspondence is stored in electronic mail journals, which let anybody who is interested to search for and download correspondence they want to see. In addition to being mandated by law, this kind of transparency is crucial for building and maintaining the public’s trust in government at all levels, and as such is an important part of democracy in Norway.

However, some of the information in these documents needs to be redacted. This includes personal information about individuals, such as names and social security numbers.

In September 2020, the Norwegian municipality of Lillestrøm discovered that it had accidentally published a cache of documents in its electronic mail journal containing personal information about several named students in the municipality.

"The incident deeply affected those who work here. The fact that it involved minors made the matter particularly serious. Therefore, we decided to explore solutions that could further strengthen the privacy of our residents, without compromising transparency," explains Synnøve Standal, who leads the unit in the municipality that deals with its correspondence and other official documents.

Harnessing AI to protect privacy

This exploration led the municipality to Tietoevry and our Public 360° team, who were already
the supplier of Lillestrøm's document and case management system. Together with two other Norwegian municipalities, the team developed the 360° Archive Inspector. The system, which is part of the Public 360° solution for document handling and case management, uses Artificial Intelligence to check documents for personal information and other details that should be redacted.

"This is a great example of how you can use artificial intelligence to make a standardized service," says Sebastian Reichmann, Head of AI &Insights, Tietoevry Industry, Public 360°.

"We use computers for what they do better than humans, namely quickly finding patterns in large
amounts of data," adds Bjørn Tore Eriksen, Lead Product Manager at Tietoevry Public 360°.

Just the beginning

Eriksen refers to the Archive Inspector solution as "AI right out of the box." This means that it should be something all municipalities and other public entities in Norway can quickly start using. The 360° Archive Inspector is currently live in six municipalities that are home to almost eight percent of the Norwegian population.

"The solution is standardized so it can fit many different organizations. You could say it's AI plug and play," explains Inger Johanne Weum Bjørnerem, the Tietoevry Product Manager for the archive inspector.

"For us, this shows how artificial intelligence can be used to solve very specific problems and speaks to the potential of this technology. Artificial Intelligence will be a focus area for us in the future, and we look forward to helping both existing and new customers implement smart AI technology," says Weum Bjørnerem.

Standal reports being very satisfied with the Tietoevry collaboration.

"It has been incredibly instructive for us to be part of this project. We have worked closely with Sebastian, Bjørn Tore and the rest of the team, having a very constructive dialogue on how various issues can be addressed," she says.

Standal believes that the proper use of new technology can contribute to increasing trust between municipalities and citizens.

"This is an example of how we can use digital technology to ensure transparency in municipal administration, while also securing the privacy of our residents. In this way we strengthen both local democracy and residents' trust in the municipality," she concludes.

Would you like to hear more?

Sebastian Reichmann

Head of AI & Insights, Tietoevry Industry, Public 360°

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