Breaking silos worldwide; how Google Cloud is fueling public sector AI, collaboration and innovation

Leaders from the United Nations Population Fund, United Nations Office for Project Services and the World Bank share how they leverage Google Workspace and AI to empower collaboration, boost efficiency and drive transformative change.
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In an era when technology rapidly reshapes landscapes, public sector agencies are increasingly turning to Google Workspace and AI to transform their operations. These tools enhance efficiency and change how governmental bodies collaborate, access information and serve the public.

During a session on public sector innovation at Google Cloud Next ’24, leaders from the World Bank, the United Nations Population Fund, and the United Nations Office for Project Services shared strategies for boosting productivity by fostering operational consistency and shared understanding. They also stressed the importance of transparency and continuous feedback and focused on the tangible benefits of eased workloads and enhanced efficiencies.

Enhancing collaboration

Public sector agencies operating worldwide are adopting cloud-based collaboration tools to create a more integrated work environment where documents and projects are easily accessible anytime and on any device. This shift not only boosts productivity but also enhances the flexibility of working environments by giving employees more universal access to agency resources and reports from offices around the world. It also helps overcome language barriers by providing translation services. And it helps ensure communications with international partners meet agency standards across different time zones and geographies. 

Justin Waugh, head of platforms, ITG enterprise platforms team at UNOPS, highlighted the transformative impact of Google Workspace in managing extensive infrastructure projects involving frequent account and project turnover. By leveraging Workspace tools like Google Docs and Sheets, UNOPS has streamlined project management and data handling and significantly reduced operational friction while enhancing user experience.

“The key thing to remember is to reduce friction for people using the systems that we’ve got, and we’ve been heavily into the book to do that,” said Waugh.

Waugh’s comments underscored the importance of integrating various Google products within organizational applications. Doing so facilitates more seamless project communication, budgeting and reporting. This strategic integration has allowed UNOPS to maintain standardized procedures across projects, fostering consistency and understanding throughout the organization.

Leveraging AI enterprise search solutions for efficient and confident information access

One of the standout applications of AI within the public sector is improving information access through enterprise search solutions. AI-powered search tools within Google Workspace can easily access vast amounts of data to find relevant documents, emails, and files. This capability is particularly transformative for government agencies, where quickly retrieving and correlating information can influence policy-making and public service delivery.

Raman Pugalumperumal, senior IT officer and lead for AI and ML platforms at the World Bank, discussed how Vertex AI and Google Cloud Search have revolutionized their data management practices. The World Bank, which manages extensive financial and economic analysis datasets, has benefited from the enhanced speed and accuracy these tools provide.

“We can measure things with quantitative information… we’re able to do [certain things] faster, or maybe things which we weren’t able to do — they’re able to do it because of the volume process,” said Pugalumperumal.

Pugalumperumal explained how AI is being used to quicken information retrieval, creating a more responsive and productive environment. This shift towards leveraging AI in its operations has unlocked new avenues for global access and sharing the World Bank’s wealth of knowledge, positioning AI as a pivotal asset in its mission to distribute developmental knowledge.

At UNFPA, IT Director Nayanesh Bhandutia said they’re working on developing an AI-powered search experience product. “We aim to break the data silos. We don’t want our users to worry about the data source when they’re looking for something,” said Bhadutia.

“This will be very time-saving because now the global population is not going through the pain of finding information.”

Maintaining the flow of multilingual work with AI-assisted translation 

Another significant advantage of integrating AI with Google Workspace in the public sector is overcoming language barriers. AI-driven language translation tools embedded within Google Workspace allow government employees from different linguistic backgrounds to collaborate effectively.

At UNFPA, IT Director Nayanesh Bhandutia highlighted the transformative role of the Gemini AI interface within Google Workspace. Introduced initially to simplify operations, Gemini has evolved to solve more complex challenges, particularly in multilingual settings. The AI-driven tool has been instrumental in helping staff draft clear and concise communications in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic.

“The introduction of Gemini has solved the [fluency] problem. Our users are getting more confident, and they’re spending less time making revisions, but we want to take it to the next level. We noticed many potentials,” said Bhandutia.

The potential for AI to extend beyond basic translations to fully integrated document management systems is vast. Bhandutia shared ambitious plans to leverage Gemini AI to automate the generation of critical documents, such as requests for proposals and job descriptions, which would reduce administrative overhead and enhance responsiveness.

For example, teams can use AI to translate documents and emails directly within the Google Workspace environment when collaborating on international aid programs or global policy initiatives. This seamless integration of translation services helps maintain the flow of work without the interruptions typically caused by language differences, fostering stronger connections and more cohesive teamwork.

“It is a fantastic stepping stone in the technology sector — [the capability] to deliver what people need…this is an excellent step towards accessibility,” said Waugh.

The future of AI and public sector innovation

The ongoing advancements in AI are expected to introduce more sophisticated tools for predictive analytics, supporting complex decision-making and personalized public services. These developments will not only drive greater efficiency within agencies but also enhance the quality of services provided to the public.

By leveraging these tools, government agencies are enhancing their operational capabilities and setting new standards for accessibility, efficiency, and collaboration in public service.

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