Dec 14 2021

2022 Tech Trends: Predictive Analytics and AI Will Make Agencies More Efficient

These tools will become more mature in the Defense Department and civilian agencies as well, experts say.

Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics are increasingly viewed as a matter of national security. Federal government IT experts expect that in 2022 and beyond, this trend will drive new policy initiatives and investments that could advance further development of these technologies. This will likely expand their application in the Defense Department and, to some extent, civilian agencies.

Public federal spending on AI/ML rose to nearly $1 billion in fiscal year 2020 — a 50 percent increase from fiscal year 2018 — making it one of the fastest growing emerging technology investment areas, says Bill Wright, director of federal government affairs at Splunk.

Earlier this year, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence released its final report to Congress, urging more funding for AI/ML to better compete with China and others, Wright says. Ten federal agencies plan to expand AI-driven facial recognition technology through fiscal year 2023, he adds.

“Much of the federal spending on AI/ML is still dedicated to research and development, but some aspects of AI, such as robotic process automation, are rapidly transitioning the technology into real-world operations,” he says.

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AI, Analytics Can Help Agencies with Forecasting

Gretchen Brainard, offering portfolio leader for government and public services customer and marketing at Deloitte, says there are several common trends regarding the future use and evolution of predictive analytic technologies.

“In 2022, factors such as the priorities of the current administration and the impacts of the pandemic on the way we live, work and access services will contribute to the ways federal agencies leverage AI technology,” she says.

Brainard says many agencies operationalize, deploy and scale predictive modeling and forecasting across a wide range of critical priorities. This includes health and environmental predictions, economic analyses and support for at-risk populations.

“For example, predictive analytics can help identify risk factors for housing and food insecurity, addiction and mental health needs, allowing federal agencies and legislators to adopt a data-driven approach to not only providing relief and access to resources but also implementing policies aimed at prevention and intervention,” she says.

EXPLORE: CDW offers expert advice to make AI work for your agency.

Brainard says the Defense Department will continue to accelerate the adoption of AI in 2022.

“DOD will execute strategic initiatives to scale the use of AI technology in support of key missions, upskill and curate a leading AI workforce, and continually cultivate a diverse ecosystem of AI partners to ensure access to emerging technologies, strategies and solutions,” she says. “DOD is also working to build better procurement methods for AI acquisitions to further enable the adoption of AI technologies.”

She says she expects maturation of use cases and more interconnectedness throughout the DOD — an effort led by the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center — and more focus on AI as a tool for transformation. Key examples include using AI technology to simulate events, plan responses and monitor and evaluate threats, Brainard says.

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Predictive Analytics Can Aid in Climate and Economic Modeling

Civilian agencies vary in terms of their approach to and adoption of AI, Brainard says. However, each agency has a similar goal to scale AI efforts and AI adoption. She predicts more widespread use of AI in 2022, with an emphasis on modernizing processes to meet agency missions.

“There are compelling use cases and pockets of excellence throughout civilian agencies,” Brainard says. “However, their use of AI is different than DOD’s, and it is difficult to compare the AI maturity of the DOD to that of civilian agencies because they have different missions and end users.”

A key civilian agency use case that will continue to emerge and mature in 2022, she says, centers on using AI and predictive analytics to model and monitor environmental patterns to get a deeper understanding of the impacts of climate change.

Wright predicts AI/ML and predictive analytics will play a major role in our future economy and national security.

“However, to remain economically and militarily competitive into the future, the federal government will need to foster a policy environment that promotes innovation and provides sustained investment in this space,” he says. “To win the AI/ML race and be prepared to defend against AI-enabled threats, the government will need to invest more heavily than it does today.”

EXPLORE: What is the state of government competency around artificial intelligence?

AI/ML and predictive analytics is increasingly being viewed as a matter of national security, and this is driving a slew of policy initiatives and budget investments that lawmakers hope will advance the further development of AI/ML and predictive analytics, Wright says.

“Perhaps the most valuable, untapped resource the federal government has at its disposal is its vast amount of unused data,” he says. “With powerful, emerging technology such as AI/ML and predictive analytics, this data can not only be used to understand what has already happened, but also what could or is likely to happen in the future.”

Unfortunately, Wright says, the full potential of AI/ML and predictive analytics have not been fully realized in the federal government.

“The benefits and applications of AI/ML and predictive technologies are still nascent, but there is little doubt that they will someday soon have profound impacts on our lives, from our national security to how efficiently our government is run,” Wright says.

However, to fully realize their potential, Wright says the federal government will need to make sustained investments at the national level and create a policy environment that promotes innovation.

“These emerging technologies have the potential to benefit humanity in countless ways if applied responsibly,” Wright says.

RELATED: How will agencies make use of artificial intelligence-infused ‘super teams’?

Illustration by Ryan Olbrysh

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