To what extent is AI being used in city-parish government?

    Earlier this week, it was announced that the Baton Rouge city-parish would be getting its very own AI chatbot.

    While the chatbot won’t begin being rolled out for a few months, the announcement begged the question: How much AI is already being used in city-parish government?

    According to Eric Romero, director of information services for the city-parish, large language models like ChatGPT are being used—albeit “very minimally”—by some departments. He says one common use case is policy writing.

    “I do know that some departments are using [AI] … to help write policies,” Romero says. “Like, ‘We need to write a policy for this and we want to cover that.’ It spits out some language and they take it, craft it and put it in the policy.”

    Romero’s department is currently working on developing a framework to provide guidance on how to use AI safely within city-parish government. When used safely, he says that AI has the potential to make city-parish operations “much more efficient.”

    “AI is only as good as the information it has access to,” Romero says. “There needs to be some level of review as to how AI interprets the information that it’s using to make a decision. … We’re building out a framework right now.”

    Governments at all levels are beginning to use AI, though the use of such technologies is poorly regulated at the moment. No government-wide guidance on how agencies should acquire and use AI currently exists.