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Coral Gables, Florida, is leveraging the artificial intelligence chatbot, ChatGPT, to improve how it responds and interacts with citizens.
Innovation officials in Coral Gables, Florida, are incorporating OpenAI’s ChatGPT into their existing chatbot to improve its responses.
The machine learning algorithms in the city’s Artificial Intelligence Digital Assistant bot uses files written in YAML, a human readable format used for configuration files. OpenAI can leverage the information in those files to make AIDA smarter, said Joseph Ruiz, IT application analyst for the city.
He’s also looking into using OpenAI’s application programming interface to ensure that the city is working with the most up-to-date versions of its datasets. “Because most of the responses and data that the AI that we’re implementing uses is hard-coded or local, it’s not actually looking at the [more recent data on the] website and reflecting that with the most up-to-date information,” Ruiz said. “What the challenge is right now is how do we validate said data so the responses of our AI are the most up to date.”
He said integrating ChatGPT with AIDA to cross-validate responses will result in “the most up-to-date data that we can provide.”
Currently in beta form, AIDA was developed by the Coral Gables Innovation and Technology (CGIT) department to make it easier for the public to use the Coral Gables Smart City Hub, a platform for exploring and downloading about 2,000 open datasets. For the past few years, CGIT worked with experts in academia and industry to ensure the bot’s human-centered design.
“We have a working prototype, [but] it’s still in R&D mode,” said Raimundo Rodulfo, the city’s director of innovation and technology and chief innovation officer. Now that AIDA uses OpenAI, staff are working “to minimize risk” with rules governing cybersecurity and privacy, he said. Additionally, there is still a need to “moderate the interactions between the AI, between the machine and the user.”
Rodulfo said he expects Ruiz to complete the first API connections between AIDA and OpenAI by the end of the year. That will leave AIDA as a “living lab” for the first half of 2024 to collect user feedback.
AI’s constant evolution means that AIDA will never be fully finished, added Lemay Ramos, the city’s IT applications manager. “It’s not a static process,” Ramos said. “There will be improving all the time.”
While the team intends AIDA for public use, they are also working on a chatbot to help city employees as part of an implementation this year of Salesforce, a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Salesforce’s low-code, no-code programmability allows the city to embed code to support robotic process automation for employee/public interactions, Rodulfo said.
“Through the programmatic capabilities of the Salesforce environment in the cloud, in [Amazon Web Services], and the programmatic capabilities of our AIDA chatbot, we’re going to find ways to interconnect them, so we have one single AIDA throughout the different platforms,” he said, adding that integration is “still two years on the horizon.”
Another benefit of this transition is that the legacy CRM system doesn’t use machine learning, whereas with the AI-enabled Salesforce system, the CRM learn, helping the city identify common problems and resolutions. By following IT service management best practices, the system can now “learn and become more efficient in how it helps the citizens get help from the departments,” Rodulfo said. It can also help employees communicate better with residents.
Another project in the works is implementing Infor CloudSuite ERP as the city’s new core financial, human resources and supply chain enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Finance and supply chain went live on March 31, with HR and payroll slated for July 17, although the new and old systems will run in parallel through Oct. 1.
The payroll applications are being double and triple checked. “The worst thing that you can do in an implementation for payroll is your checks come out wrong,” Ramos said. “Payroll doesn’t give you the chance of being 90% right. You have to be 100% right, so we’re in the process right now of validating every single formula, every single change.”
The new system will enable managers to view and approve requisitions from a mobile device. It uses the Infor Coleman AI platform, a cloud solution that enables the building, managing and deployment of AI models.
“A manager doesn’t have to be in front of a computer to approve or even get an email or phone call to tell him, for example, how many requisitions are open to approve,” Ramos said. “AI will find, based on the rules… ‘You have 20 requisitions, 18 of them can be approved. You have two of them that are outside the parameters. You can review them. What would you like me to do?’”
In the past five years, the city has implemented five ERPs for various functional areas, all with the goal of being state-of-the-art, evergreen, user-centric, cloud-based, mobile-accessible and horizontally integrated with one another.
“We’re looking 15, 20 years from now,” Ramos said. “We probably won’t be here in 10 to 15 years, but we want to leave that legacy, the ability for the city to grow, the ability to have that experience.”
Part of the foundation they’re working on includes a publicly accessible digital twin that provides live data on traffic, parking, asset management and other information.
It “brings together all the enterprise systems and all the data domains and all the central data infrastructure into one platform that is 3D,” Rodulfo said of the digital twin, which won a 2023 Smart 50 Award from Smart Cities Connect. “You can run simulations that give you high-level visibility for everything in the city in one place.”
He credits collaboration among the applications, systems, networking and GIS teams for making it all come together. The digital twin consolidates data from 14 departments.
Cultivating a culture of innovation and collaboration can be difficult. Rodulfo’s approach has been to secure funding to train at least one person in each department on the Lean Six Sigma process approach. “They became our liaisons for digital transformation. Now we were able to apply that angle of quality improvement, continuous improvement to whatever we’re going to do together,” he said.
The city’s innovation work is far from done. Ruiz said he is researching ways to use the Infor ION API, a part of the Infor Operating Service that brokers requests from API consumers, to streamline more applications and web apps. “I’m so overwhelmed with so many possibilities,” he said.
Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.