he government of Alberta launched the first internal Artificial Intelligence (AI) lab 一 GovLab.ai on Tuesday, May 3. It’s being considered a groundbreaking method of developing data-driven solutions to government problems.
It will invite collaboration from post-secondary students, machine-learning experts, and government staff in a new partnership.
The lab will work on developing pilot projects to help the government, including projects that use data to understand and predict wildfires in the province.
Nicole Janssen is the co-founder of AltaML, the machine-learning company which is in partnership with GovLab.ai. In conversation with the CBC, she says the solution developed by the AI lab can save millions of dollars this fire season by reallocating resources to the right place. It will be able to predict where wildfires are most likely to occur daily so that equipment and crews can be placed there appropriately.
GovLab.ai will be fully operational this summer and function on a cohort basis. There will be a new group of interns, AI experts, and government individuals going through the process every four months, with the pilot cohort starting this week.
Additionally, it’s an incentive to keep computer science graduates in the province. It will help expose students in Alberta to potential careers in the public sector.
It’s real-world experience that will be helpful for students, regardless of whether or not they wish to pursue jobs in the public sector, says Janssen. Students will see that there is opportunity in the province and it may influence their decision to stay rather than to find jobs elsewhere.
Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish said in a government announcement on Tuesday that this will benefit the entire tech ecosystem across Alberta by getting more folks working in this space on real-world problems and developing practical solutions with technology.
Every year, the province proposes to invest $3.4 million into GovLab.ai. It is estimated that $100 million will be yielded in benefits for Alberta in the span of the next five years.
The goal of the lab is to assist workers in the public sector so that they can focus on higher priorities, since AI will use the data to get rid of redundancy. When the lab becomes successful, the province may also consider commercializing the work.
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