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State and local leaders praise the benefits of cloud-based collaboration tools

State and local agencies nationwide are taking proactive steps to integrate AI-enabled tools into their services and improve collaboration across their agencies. In a recent panel, government leaders from the State of Oklahoma and the City of Dearborn, Michigan, detail the successes their employees and constituents are gaining from these more modern platforms.

Oklahoma’s Deputy Director for Data Services, Jessica Gateff, shared that as the leader of the state’s data platform and data strategy, one of her key focus areas is data sharing.

She explained that her department is looking to improve its ability to pull data from systems of records into the state data platform in a way that helps facilitate sharing between agencies, with third-party vendors or deriving insights from their stored data.

She cited a specific example of Oklahoma’s generative AI chatbot currently running on its data services webpage at the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) website. The chatbot allows users to input questions in a conversational way to ask about the OMES data strategy.

“As we move forward and scaling that out, we anticipate scaling it across the entire OMES website, then leveraging that same chatbot across oklahoma.gov, and then our agency partner websites,” she said, adding that they are exploring Google’s Document AI and Vision AI to help partner with some of their agencies like Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Department of Corrections (DOC) to modernize manual processes and help increase workload efficiencies.

A key component of the success of their program, said Gateff, is “getting buy-in to drive the initiatives and the innovation associated with cloud platforms,” and explained that Oklahoma is fortunate to have some key advocates and data champions that have been instrumental to pushing forward their cloud and data strategies.

Mansour Shahra, director of innovation and technology for the City of Dearborn, Michigan, also stressed the importance of leadership buy-in at the local level. For the City of Dearborn in Michigan, Mayor Abdullah Hammoud has been a driving force of innovation.

Shahra detailed how the city implemented Google Workspace, a cloud-based collaboration platform that continues to improve collaboration and productivity among its employees.

“Prior to [integrating] Google Workspace, we had a silo Exchange server where employees would have to login through a VPN — virtual private network — to their laptop or desktops, launch their email, make sure it’s up to date, and then write that email.”

With a cloud-based collaboration platform, Shahra detailed not only how the user experience for emails vastly improved, but city employees are able to take advantage of other tools within the platform, including Google Chat, Google Meet and an AI-powered writing assistant with Google Workspace’s Duet AI.

“The power of AI allowed us to do more with less spending. And having the right decision that is driven based on data also helps to justify what you want to implement,” he explained.

Watch the full discussion and learn more about how to start integrating generative AI into your agencies’ operations.

This video panel discussion was produced by Scoop News Group for StateScoop and underwritten by Google for Government.