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A shared digital assistant for the public sector

A woman standing by a desk in fromt of her computer

This is a collaboration between Swedish authorities, municipalities, regions, and industry, coordinated by AI Sweden. The objective is to promote national collaboration on AI for text tasks and create conditions for shared solutions in the public sector.

The ultimate goal is to support public sector employees and free up their time so they can focus on more creative and interpersonal tasks. Success requires public sector organizations to share critical resources while sharing the burden of gathering the data needed to create truly competent and flexible solutions.

It is a pioneering initiative that will free up time in the welfare sector and open up for more interpersonal and valuable work.

Julia Olander, innovationsledare på Göteborgs stad

The digital assistant will be designed to be easy to use and accessible to every staff member, regardless of their technical skills. Examples of tasks the assistant will be able to help with:

  • Summarize and analyze large amounts of text.
  • Improve and edit texts to make them more readable and structured.
  • Create new texts such as reports, documents, and applications, customized according to specific templates and guidelines.
  • Classify documents and create decision support in administrative processes.
  • Develop personalized support for citizens.

What do we face ahead?

Public sector employees in Sweden deal with extensive and varied text-related tasks daily. These are essential to fulfill the sector's mission and provide services to citizens but are also often labor-intensive and time-consuming. At the same time, a significant shortage of staff is expected in the sector due to the aging population and declining labour force.

+50%

The number of people aged 80 or older will increase by almost 50% by 2031
Source: SKR 2022

+410,000

By 2031, the number of workers needs to increase by 410,000.
Source: SKR 2022

Alongside the challenge of a shrinking labour force and the increasing needs of an ageing population, there is also a lack of AI skills, computational power, legal requirements and, above all, the lack of Swedish data that reflects the specific needs of the sector. These challenges are too big for individual organisations, and therefore a broad collaboration across the sector with joint initiatives for AI is required.

AI technology is part of the solution

AI technology, especially large-scale language models, has the potential to greatly support this challenge. In a 2019 report, DIGG estimated that AI technology could create a value of SEK 140 billion annually in the public sector (1). Moreover, the report was written before big language models had had time to prove their enormous value.

The potential of large-scale language models is particularly relevant for public sector organizations as much of the data handled in the sector is text-based. Research also shows that using large-scale language models can significantly increase the efficiency and quality of text-based work (2).

How will the initiative be implemented?

To date, the initiative has worked on needs assessment in the participating organizations and identified key use cases and areas for the use of a digital assistant. Based on this, the data generation process has started, with staff in the organizations creating data that can be used to improve the language model.

The project has also developed a prototype for a digital assistant called Svea, which can already be used within the participating organizations. Svea is a web-based chat interface and is based on a large language model. This solution runs on infrastructure located in Sweden and is provided by the technology company Intel.

In addition to this, a legal expert has also done a lot of legal work together with the administrative lawyers of the participating organisations. The aim is to design the system to be both usable and adapted to the legal requirements of public organizations.

Change management is also a major part of the initiative. Employees are trained to use the digital assistant effectively and responsibly. Operations are engaged in finding new ways of working, and a lot of work is done to embed the initiative among managers and strategists and, above all, among the employees and operational experts who are the focus of the development.

It is clear that AI Sweden's starting point is that the solution must be legal in order to be scalable. Therefore, the legal issues are taken extremely seriously, and technical solutions are adapted accordingly.

Linnea Princis, kommunjurist Kungsbacka kommun

We are now launching Phase 2

The call for expressions of interest for phase 2 of this initiative is now open. In phase 2, around 30 authorities, municipalities and regions will work together with actors in the business community in a project that extends over one and a half years, coordinated by AI Sweden. There is great interest and many organisations have already started to register their participation.

Participation in the project provides many benefits for your organization:

✓ Employees can use the Svea prototype in their work

✓ Your own database of documents that can be used in Svea

✓ Access to an open database with national information

✓ Skills development - Increased understanding of AI & responsible use

✓ Business development with new ways of working

✓ Increased AI maturity throughout the organization

A shared digital assistant will be an important tool for current and future challenges in health and social care [...]. Participation in the project is highly recommended for those municipalities that want to drive the development forward.

Jenny Fermby, verksamhetsutvecklare, Tjörns kommun

Please get in touch with Jonathan if your organization is interested in participating in phase 2!

A portrait photo of Jonatan Permert

Jonatan Permert

AI Transformation Strategist
+46 (0)73-972 59 14

Q&A

If you have any questions regarding participation or registration, please contact jonatan.permert@ai.se

To participate in stage 2, you sign a letter of intent for the project application provided by AI Sweden.

The letter of intent describes your intention to participate and specifies your level of cash contribution and working hours for data generation. This is not a binding agreement, and you can withdraw up to the start of the project if you are not happy with how the scheme is being developed. However, you undertake to participate in good faith in the discussions and drafting of the project agreement, and it is only if we cannot reach a consensus that you can withdraw from the project.

The payment does not have to be made before the start of the project but can be made up to four months after the project agreement is drawn up. It is also possible to split the payment into three parts and pay one-third before each new term of the project. This lets you spread the cost over time to fit your budgeting strategy.

A financial investment is required to ensure the progress of the project and fulfill the need for dedicated staff. The amount you pay varies depending on the size of your organization:

Small organization 300 000 - 500 000

Medium organization 500 000 - 800 000

Large organization 800 000 - 1000 000

For example, a municipality with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants may pay 300,000 SEK, while a municipality with around 50,000 inhabitants may pay 500,000 SEK.

A medium-sized organization could be a municipality with more than 100,000 inhabitants or a small region or authority with fewer than 10,000 employees. They may pay around SEK 600 000-700 000 but also upwards of SEK 800 000 if the number of employees is around 10,000 or more.

Large organizations, such as our largest municipalities, regions, and authorities, with over 10,000 employees or a high turnover, can pay up to SEK 1,000,000.

This is not a linear way of calculating costs, but is based on the organizations' ability to contribute resources.

The most important deliverable of the whole project is the data created by the employees themselves. This requires staff time and commitment, and therefore, you need to allocate resources for it.

For simplicity, we calculate the labour investment in terms of annual manpower (AMP), but in reality, the labour time is distributed over a number of employees who then spend only a small part of their working time generating data.

The number of FTEs you contribute depends again on the size and capacity of your organization:

Small organization 1 AMP

Medium organization 2 AMP

Large organization 3 AMP

This is not a linear way of calculating the investment of working time but is based on organizations' capacity to contribute resources. However, it is important to remember that the data you contribute directly translates into increased relevance and utility of the assistant in your organization. Therefore, it is in your interest to create a lot of data.

Svea

Svea is an AI-based prototype for a digital assistant designed to help public sector workers with text-based tasks. Currently, based on the Mixtral open language model from the French company Mistral, more models will be tested in phase 2.
Employees interact with Svea via a web-based chat. Svea can already answer business-specific questions, summarize documents, extract information, rewrite texts in easy-to-read Swedish, and much more.

Svea aims to make working days more efficient and less stressful and to improve the quality of text-based tasks, especially for those without specialized skills. Employees can provide feedback on the assistant's behavior, helping to continuously fine-tune and improve Svea to meet business needs and handle more advanced tasks.

AI Sweden has created a project organization for the initiative that handles data collection, infrastructure, fine-tuning, development of the digital assistant Svea, training, and change management. The organization includes artificial intelligence, data science, and AI transformation experts.

For more details on the project, Svea, and Phase 2, please read the attached document:

Timeline

Phase 1

Phase 2

  • During start-up
  • Planned to last until the end of 2025/beginning of 2026
  • Around 30 municipalities, regions, and authorities are invited to participate
     

Phase 3

  • From 2026, the ambition is for the initiative to be handed over to a long-term public operator outside AI Sweden

For more information, contact

A portrait photo of Jonatan Permert
Jonatan Permert
AI Transformation Strategist
+46 (0)73-972 59 14
A photo of Lucas Ambjörn
Lucas Ambjörn
AI Change Agent
+46 (0)73-709 95 95

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