What is an 'AI Assistant' and what can I use it for?
An AI assistant, or Artificial Intelligence assistant, is like a virtual helper designed to make life easier by providing information through conversation and automating tasks. Imagine having a smart friend you can talk to on your computer or phone, who can answer your questions, help you find information online, and help streamline or automate many work-related tasks.
AI assistants are usually interacted with via a chat window which is why they are also sometimes called 'AI chat bots'. The user simply types in a question or request, and the AI assistant responds with an answer or action. GovAI also has an 'email interface', which allows you to simply send an email to GovAI@Civia.com
and it will reply back to you.
Typically AI assistants like GovAI are used for:
- knowledge inquiry (learning something specific)
- creative/generative tasks (writing, creating, or producing something)
- task automation (editing, summarizing, translating, etc.)
- what-if/brainstorming (exploring ideas, predicting outcomes, etc)
In a local government context, the most common use of AI assistants is to learn or explore specific topics -- often outside of the user's day-to-day functional area -- although GovAI is used across all the above categories.
Is government adoption of AI already underway?
Yes. While there are various forms of AI-in-government gaining ground (AI assistants being just one example), the data indicates a significant surge of usage happening across public sector organizations, especially among front-line staff and managers. GovAI's usage at municipalities, for example, is doubling every 90 days - an astronomical growth rate for 'govtech' software.
Based on this data, we believe that 'the horse has left the barn' on this powerful new technology and it's time for local government to have a better option like GovAI vs the commercial / industry-first solutions being used in the wild. Both ideological extremes -- blind optimism and outright denial -- obscure the reality of this technology's powerful impact already.
Why was GovAI created?
GovAI was created so that local government would have a better option for AI assistants than the industry-first solutions largely on offer. Public Sector is so unique in its context and constraints that off-the-shelf AI systems range from inappropriate to downright dangerous.
We founded Civia to help local government staff unlock their collective wisdom, boost their noble spirit, and forge a better future for their communities - and we discovered that AI assistants can be a powerful tool in helping individual staff members and leaders do just that.
We built GovAI in constant dialogue with local government staff, and we continue to evolve it based on your feedback and needs. We believe that AI can be a force for good in local government, and we're committed to making that a reality.
Who is the team behind GovAI (and Civia)?
We're the founding team of Civia, a group of technologists and builders who are passionate about the potential of AI to help local government staff. We've worked in and with local government for decades, and we've seen first-hand how the right technology can help public sector staff rise to their challenges.
Previously, we founded Bonfire, a successful 'govtech' procurement platform that handled terabytes of highly confidential buyer/supplier data, $100B+ of procurement projects, and was used by thousands of government users. Through the 10+ years of building that platform and company we saw first-hand how knowledgeable, hard-working and virtuous local government staff are.
But we also saw how silo'd and fragmented best-practices and specialized knowledge was across public sector. We'd see that one group had a problem 'solved' while another group on the other side of the country was just beginning to tackle the same issue.
We were inspired to create a platform that would allow local government staff to connect, share, and learn from each other. The advent of AI added powerful possibilities to how knowledge is categorized and shared. We're excited to be on this journey with you, and we're committed to making GovAI and Civia the best possible platform for local government staff.
Is GovAI free? If so, how can that be?
Yes, GovAI and Civia are free for individuals in local government. We believe that in order for local government to continue evolving, transformative technology and tools should be available for leaders and staff without expensive subscriptions or lengthy procurement cycles.
We will soon offer Enterprise plans to local government agencies that wish to deploy GovAI across their organizations, and want SSO, visibility/reporting, and fine-grained policy and data controls for their users. Contact us at Sales@Civia.com
to discuss Enterprise licensing.
Why is GovAI limited to local government staff?
In order for GovAI and Civia to be the best possible tools for local government staff, we need to focus on the unique context and constraints of public sector work. By limiting access to local government staff, we can ensure that GovAI and the Civia community is optimized for the specific needs of local government users, and crucially keep it private and safe from outsiders.
We've all seen how LinkedIn and other platforms have been overrun by salespeople and recruiters, and we're preventing that with GovAI and Civia by simply banning non-local government folks from the platform entirely.
This is why we require users to register with their local government work email - that way, we verify that users currently work at a qualifying organization.
Explain GovAI's Context/Community/Control philosophy
While "AI" is obviously at the core of GovAI, we believe that an AI itself is not enough to make a positive transformative difference in local government. We've found that the context in which the AI operates, the community of peers it connects you with, and the control you have over it are all equally important to the nuts and bolts of the Large Language Model (LLM) itself.
So we've built features around the core LLM that allows GovAI to be far better at helping you. Specifically:
GovAI uses your unique context in local government -- your organization type/size/sector, geographic region, functional role and seniority -- to optimize the underlying LLM. This means that GovAI's responses are more accurate, relevant, and actionable for you. Consider how the response to a user might differ depending on if they're a city manager in California, a public health nurse in New York, or a public works director at the Texas DOT.
GovAI ingests your context and then uses that to guide the LLM in responding. Try it out
and see the difference!
Civia has a Directory that connects you with peers in your field, and a chat window that connects you with GovAI. This means that you can easily find and message other local government staff, and get help from GovAI, all in one place. This is a powerful way to connect with others in your field as you explore topics and questions. We believe this combination of AI and real, experienced people is the best way to help you learn and progress.
While it's not discussed nearly as much as AI's potential, we believe that the control that you as a user -- as well as your organization -- have over an AI is crucial. GovAI doesn't require any access to a user's local system, files, or data, and IT teams can 'claim' their organization and work with us to implement custom policies for their users. These additional features provide for a safer, more secure, and more effective AI experience for local government staff.
Who can I contact for more details?
Reach out to us at Hello@Civia.com
with any questions, concerns, or feedback and we'll respond quickly. You can also register for a Civia account and message us from inside the platform.
How can I safely try GovAI out?
The quickest way to try GovAI is to simply send a local government question to GovAI@Civia.com
from your local government work email. GovAI will respond to you with a helpful answer or action.
To get the full experience, just register here
for a free account and you'll be able to use GovAI in a chat window, and access the Directory to connect with peers in your field.