The Punjab government is all set to harness Artificial Intelligence for delivery of services and good governance as it looks to replace the “old systems”. Among others, the government is hoping to utilise AI for video analytics for police surveillance and threat detection, smarter public transit system, efficient tax management, early warning system for disasters, assessing damage after natural calamities, and monitoring crops for disease detection.
They also plan to use the emerging technologies to streamline services like free food grains and weed out bogus beneficiaries.
The state police force is already making use of facial recognition, an AI augmented tool, to pin down criminals. “We have had many hits. We have been able of arrest several snatchers after they were caught on CCTV cameras and identified by the AI tool,” said a senior police officer on anonymity. The officer added that system was put in place during former DGP Suresh Arora’s tenure in 2017-18 and his successor Dinkar Gupta took it forward.
The Vigilance Bureau is using a chatbot. The chatbot, providing two-way communication, register complaints of corruption through a helpline-9501200200 and the complainant is then contacted or an investigation is directly launched.
Aaditya Dar, a faculty member at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Mohali, who has been working with the Punjab government’s Department of Governance Reforms since June 2020, highlighted the deployment of chatbots in Sewa Kendras for tasks like certificate issuance and grievance resolution. He said leveraging large language models can enhance these chatbots’ effectiveness, benefiting the elderly and those unable to visit Sewa Kendras by providing information and resolving their problems in easily understandable language.Dar said AI will further streamline processes for issuing licenses, marriage certificates, and arms licenses. He is particularly enthusiastic about the transformative potential of AI in bureaucratic operations. “There are around 3,000 key actors, including SMOs, tehsildars, and BDOs, responsible for public service delivery. These individuals face challenges such as excessive paperwork and internal obstacles, and there’s often limited horizontal coordination. Imagine if all government orders are pre-fed into the system, facilitated by the accessibility of open source language models in Punjabi at minimal costs. This will significantly enhance bureaucratic efficiency, thus helping deliver public services”.
The government, on its part, has sought help for hiring consultants from National Information Centre Services Inc (NICSI), set up under National Informatics Centre (NIC) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), a technology partner of Government of India with its objective to provide technology-driven solutions to Centre and states.
The department of administrative reforms has shortlisted 14 departments in which AI can be used. The government would initially launch it 10 departments, with one consultant earmarked for every department.
As per a senior official, the government is planning to set up a 11-member Project Management Unit (PMU), including the 10 consultants, who would be given nine months to suggest how AI could be used in the departments and implement the same.
“The idea is not to just provide consultation but also to provide practical delivery of the system. The government wants to do it within a predetermined time frame,” the official said.
Punjab has a huge potential for AI usage. For instance, there are 1.41 crore beneficiaries of atta-dal scheme — making for more than half the population of the state. “We are not a poor state. How come there are so many beneficiaries of a scheme that is meant for people who are Below Poverty Line (BPL)? By making use of AI, we can have a database on our system that would tell us if any beneficiary owns a four-wheeler in his name. That person would be eliminated on his own,” said the official.
On whether the implementation pf AI would lead to job loss, the official said the resource persons can and will be utilised elsewhere.
The departments where the AI would be used include health, education, police, transport, finance and taxation, agriculture, housing, urban planning, energy, social services, environment, disaster management, tourism, and labour.
In the health sector, the areas would include diagnostics and medical image analysis, patient data analysis for personalised treatment, predictive analytics for disease outbreaks and resource allocation. In education sector, AI would be used for personalised learning platform for students, automated grading and assessment, and analytics for improving curriculum, the official said.
Similarly, AI can be used for improving law and order with predictive policing to allocate resources effectively, video analytics for surveillance and threat detection and crime pattern analysis and criminal identification. It would also be used for traffic management and optimisation, intelligent public transit system, autonomous vehicle regulation and implementation, finance and taxation, fraud detection and prevention in financial transactions.
It can be a boon for the farming sector, where AI would be used for crop monitoring and disease prediction, precision agriculture and yield optimisation and weather data analysis for better farming practices. It could also be used for early warning systems for natural disasters, disaster response coordination and resource allocation, post-disaster damage assessment using satellite imagery.
The AI would also be used for affordable housing planning and allocation, predictive analysis for housing demand, and maintenance and renovation scheduling for public housing.
Minister for Governance reforms Aman Arora said Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann is keen on making Punjab a front runner in the usage of AI in governance. “That is why the issue was taken up in the Cabinet and our department was asked to identify the services where the AI could be used. The decision aims providing better services to the citizens. It (AI) can be helpful in reducing road accident fatalities, checking tax evasion, improving health services, improving citizen interface and others.”
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