In recent months, iNetwork has taken significant strides in its commitment to guide local public sector organisations through the intricate landscape of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This focus stems from conversations with our members who, amidst the rapid rise of AI technologies, have voiced various challenges and concerns.

One of our recent initiatives involved hosting a roundtable event dedicated to policies and governance in AI. This forum provided a space for members to openly discuss their approaches and challenges. Notably, Cath Ritchie from North Yorkshire Council, showcased their evolving approach, emphasising the ethical implications of AI use in council services. While the governance of AI remains a work in progress, the organisation is committed to an informed, safe, and regularly reviewed approach. The resulting case study served as a catalyst for open conversations among members, fostering a collaborative spirit.

Similar themes were discussed during our recent Anniversary conference on 30th November. Our conference featured a key panel discussion on the security, ethics, and information governance of AI. Panellists, including Mark Brett (NLAWARP), Lesley Bullen (Guinness Partnership), Tony Cobain (MIAA), and Yunus Mayat (Bradford City Council), provided valuable insights into the threats and opportunities of AI in the local public sector. Acknowledging the incredible potential of AI to enhance public services, there was also a cautious optimism emphasised by the panel. Governance and staff awareness were highlighted as essential elements in these early stages of AI adoption within the sector.

A recurring theme in AI discussions is the range of guidance available to support local public sector colleagues. Notably, guidance from fellow membership organisation Socitm has been consistently referenced in our events. Noteworthy resources include a sample corporate policy for the use of Generative Artificial Intelligence and an infographic on ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ for users of Generative AI. Please see a wider description of these resources below:

Sample corporate policy for use of Generative Artificial Intelligence

This document is a sample policy framework for the use of Generative Artificial Intelligence tools, powered by Large Language Models, such as ChatGPT, Copiliot, Bard, Bing and a growing number of related tools. It has been developed by Socitm (the Society for Innovation, Technology and Modernisation) in collaboration with ALGIM (Association of Local Government Information Management, New Zealand). It is intended for use by local government, other public sector organisations and charities. A downloadable word version can be customised by councils and others for their specific needs.

Generative Artificial Intelligence Large Language Models – Do’s and Don’ts

Produced in partnership with ALGIM and LOLA (Linked Organisation of Local Authority ICT Societies), this infographic provides a quick reference guide for users of Generative Artificial Intelligence. These ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ apply to anyone contemplating using Generative AI, including but not limited to employees, contractors, developers, vendors, temporary staff, consultants, councillors and trustees of councils, charities and any other organisations providing public services.

Alongside our discussions on AI, iNetwork has hosted insightful conversations on the Microsoft Power Platform. Collaborating with Microsoft, we have helped provide up-to-date advice on their products and services, as well as highlight innovative work from members on the platform. Demonstrations of Microsoft co-pilot and case studies from local authorities showcased the platform’s potential. Members expressed a keen interest in delving deeper into aspects such as platform governance, advanced Power BI utilisation, and understanding the intricacies of licensing for Microsoft products. The roll out of Microsoft Co-pilot continues to be a strong topic of interest for iNetwork’s WARP community and will feature in up and coming events. 

Additionally iNetwork is currently consolidating the learning from the recent learning from our conversations and events. In the next couple of months iNetwork will release an inaugural insights report on the topic of AI, which will be exclusively available to members.

AI and automation are integral components of the local public sector’s digital evolution, and iNetwork is committed to supporting this transformation. As we move into quarter four of our delivery, stay tuned for further announcements and opportunities to engage and collaborate around the topic of AI.