The digital age has changed everything, especially from a data perspective. Technologies like drones, traffic cameras and mobile devices collect data 24 hours a day, challenging agencies to make sense of these unstructured and disparate data sources. Images, audio recordings, videos and social media files are difficult to handle, and with digital data growing at 42 percent annually, legacy IT systems are no longer effective when it comes to content management in government.
Agencies need to not only find a way to extract and manage essential information from their digital data but also analyze it and develop insights that can help them better serve citizens.
One way agencies can do this is by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Fortunately, the White House is beginning to realize and act on AI’s full potential, launching an AI Task Force to prioritize research and funding towards machine learning technologies.
In tandem with this, new advances in AI, fueled by investments from organizations like Amazon, Google and Baidu, are enabling the classification and extraction of key content from images, audio and video resources in increasingly sophisticated ways.
There is no debate that agencies should take advantage of this increase in attention and investment in AI innovation to make use of more data, faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Here is why agencies should harness AI to manage and make better use of their digital content.
Finding the digital needle in an information haystack
In both the public and private sector, data is now the key commodity. However, it is estimated that 80 percent of that data lives inside of documents or other content types, which is unstructured and difficult to manage. In addition, this content is often found sitting in disparate repositories—making it even harder to find and do anything useful with.
This leaves government agencies struggling to handle ever-growing volumes of digital assets and documents, not to mention leveraging content to their advantage.
This is where the value of AI lies. A content services platform that leverages AI makes it much easier to organize, identify and tag new digital assets, as well as those currently being stored and used in legacy systems. As the successor to enterprise content management (ECM), a content services platform manages both traditional content and rich media assets that legacy systems were not built to support.
Imagine the AI component of a content services platform like an internet search tool. Imagine that an AI has already intelligently filed all of your business information making retrieval of documents and data easier, faster and more intuitive. Today and in the past, this has been a time-consuming process. When looking for a document, employees had to be extremely specific in their search query and had to know what system the file was stored in or its exact file name. Content services in combination with AI can remove this frustration.
Gartner defines content services platforms as the next stage of enterprise content management, representing a shift from self-contained systems and repositories to open services. A modern CSP is built on top of modern technologies such as NoSQL, AI and cloud to provide organizations with a flexible, agile, efficient and cost-effective information management solution. It connects users with information in new ways and allows them to store, view, edit and interact with data and content however they want to — whether that is via the CSP interface, a mobile app, a line of business app like Salesforce, a web portal or even a custom-built application to perform a specific task or process for the business.
With a content services platform that integrates AI, searching and extracting information becomes more straightforward and federal employees are able to access mission-critical information more intuitively and efficiently from an open-source platform.
One example where this approach to content management can benefit government is in agencies like the IRS or Department of Treasury where fraud investigations are common. The auditing process is critical to solve or eliminate tax evasion; however, this requires sorting through massive amounts of documentation that can span up to decades of shelf life. Auditors often have to search through unstructured and discrete data sources produced from devices such as iPads, laptops, mobile phones, and the like. Content also must be quickly accessible, as these documents are essential to the case management process from cradle to grave. A content services platform with AI can take a search query, scan metadata tags, and automate the retrieval process to provide the auditor with information critical to the case.
Another example where this approach to content management can be applied is in law enforcement. Police officers and other officials now wear body cameras, which means video streaming occurs at all hours of the day. This digital content is critical in the due process of the law and needs to be easily accessed across all agency levels—from state police to judicial and administrative agencies and federal prosecutors. In AI-enabled content platforms, these videos and indeed specific, key events that happen in those videos are automatically tagged so they can be found quickly, irrespective of their place of storage. This means less time searching for critical data that can keep citizens safe.
Modernization, without ripping, replacing
In the past, federal employees had to work hard to aggregate and digitize data, as scanning documents and turning hard copies into digital assets was labor-intensive. With more data hitting agencies than ever before, legacy systems are struggling to cope with the increasing volumes and expectations placed on them.
However, federal chief information officers should avoid “ripping and replacing” the legacy systems and instead gradually migrate content from respective legacy systems onto a content services platform over time.
A platform is designed to mold around an organization rather than expecting the organization and its users to mold around the software. By migrating data behind the scenes, users do not notice the gradual change and eventually legacy systems can be completely phased out. Think about a situation where a caseworker in a planning department requires access to a specific set of building plans. Today when they search for those plans, they happen to be stored in the legacy system — tomorrow when that search happens, the same plans “could” still be stored in in the legacy system — but they could have been migrated. The end user does not know, and really does not care!
The agencies that will succeed in their modernization efforts are those that will figure out which pieces of content have the greatest value to their organization and which processes can be made better through the effective use of these new technologies. This way, agencies can spend less time searching for data and information, and more time focusing on using that information to better deliver on the mission of public service.
Dave Jones is the director of product marketing at Nuxeo.