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Boosting the development of AI in municipal services

The regulatory framework is set for the implementation of AI while respecting digital rights.

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21/04/2021 - 10:26 h - Smart City Ajuntament de Barcelona

The Commission for Presidency, Citizen Rights, Participation, Safety and Prevention included the presentation of the government measure ‘Municipal strategy on algorithms and data to ethically drive artificial intelligence’, which sets out the ways to use AI and emerging urban tech in municipal services while respecting people’s digital rights. The new regulatory framework sees Barcelona join other cities which have already set out the terms for using these tools, such as Amsterdam, New York and Helsinki.

The measure includes action on organisation, management and governance to be developed over the next three years, enabling AI tools to:

  • Strengthen the municipal digital transformation.
  • Help move towards a smart governance model which is more effective and efficient in the resolution of challenges and the management of public policies.
  • Foster internal mechanisms to guarantee human rights and ensure citizen participation.
  • Promote transparent and auditable models and projects using open-source software and open knowledge.
  • Respect human rights in design and privacy and the right to understand decision-making and ensure human supervision in automated decisions by machines where these decision affect people.

Pilot projects with AI

Barcelona City Council currently has various AI pilot projects in different areas, for instance the project to monitor volumes of people at the beaches which was carried out last summer during the Covid-19 pandemic. The data on occupancy at the beaches was updated in real time on an open website for people to check before heading there.

Another project under way is being tested with the IRIS service, where people can send enquiries, complaints and suggestions online. Using automatic learning algorithms, the process for classifying citizen enquiries is simplified.

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