Polco announces AI tool for public sector decision-making – Wisbusiness.com

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A Madison-based software company called Polco is conducting field testing for a new conversational AI application designed to support public sector decision-making. 


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The business yesterday announced the new AI tool known as “Polly,” described as a conversational data analyst. It can be accessed through the company’s existing civic engagement and analytics platform, which is used in hundreds of communities, according to its website. 

CEO Nick Mastronardi says the new tool is “changing the data analysis game by effectively adding a digital employee” to the city’s staff, who can track data metrics, recommend budget priorities and write strategic plans. As a learning system, it will also become smarter over time, Mastronardi said yesterday in a statement. 

“It’s now imminently possible to unleash a public sector renaissance by putting world-class AI in the hands of nearly one million state and local government officials who haven’t previously had ready access to these datasets and analytics,” he said. 

Polco plans to roll out Polly’s new AI capabilities in May, according to yesterday’s release. That will come after a demonstration in April at the International City/County Management Association’s Local Government Reimagined Conference in Boston.

A company spokesperson shared a transcript of a conversation with Polly, represented by a green cartoon parrot head in the document. In the exchange, the AI tool answers a series of questions on housing, starting with trends in Lake Geneva before shifting to national indicators. 

The user then asks Polly to create a draft grant application for a city in Colorado focused on improving housing options for residents. The application outline produced by the AI references data on housing cost burdens, median home values, housing vacancy rates and more. 

Its proposed project covers various initiatives focused on developing affordable housing units, improving energy efficiency and quality for existing housing stock, considerations for “livability and aesthetic appeal” and other elements. 

When asked to add more data points to the application, Polly breaks down some of the more broad language included in its first attempt and fills in more specific dollar figures and percentages. 

See the release.

Watch an episode of “WisBusiness.com: the Show” featuring Mastronardi, and see a more recent story focused on AI in manufacturing. 

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