DC launched an AI tool for navigating the city’s open data

Article by Kaela Roeder: “In a move echoing local governments’ increasing attention toward generative artificial intelligence across the country, the nation’s capital now aims to make navigating its open data easier through a new public beta pilot.

DC Compass, launched in March, uses generative AI to answer user questions and create maps from open data sets, ranging from the district’s population to what different trees are planted in the city. The Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) partnered with the geographic information system (GIS) technology company Esri, which has an office in Vienna, Virginia, to create the new tool.

This debut follows Mayor Muriel Bowser’s signing of DC’s AI Values and Strategic Plan in February. The order requires agencies to assess if using AI is in alignment with the values it sets forth, including that there’s a clear benefit to people; a plan for “meaningful accountability” for the tool; and transparency, sustainability, privacy and equity at the forefront of deployment.

These values are key when launching something like DC Compass, said Michael Rupert, the interim chief technology officer for digital services at the Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

“The way Mayor Bowser rolled out the mayor’s order and this value statement, I think gives residents and businesses a little more comfort that we aren’t just writing a check and seeing what happens,” Rupert said. “That we’re actually methodically going about it in a responsible way, both morally and fiscally.”..(More)”.

Screenshot of AI portal with black text and data tables over white background