About this good practice
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) launched a Foundation Certificate in Artificial Intelligence for public servants in 2021. This programme aligned with the goals to upskill staff in important areas that would foster innovation, in addition to driving transformative innovation by leveraging new and emerging technologies. The aim of the course is to give a very basic introduction to AI so people understand the AI jargon, what it can and cannot be expected to do. Another very important aim is for people to realise their ethical responsibilities around the deployment of AI based systems in the delivery of public services. The course curriculum includes: · Introduction to AI · Managing AI Projects · AI Tools and Ecosystems · AI Solution Design and Case Studies · Data Visualization · The Mathematical Foundations of AI · Introduction to Programming (Python) · Ethical Practice in AI, Data Science and Analytics The course is 12 weeks long with 5 hours per week of class-based learning per week in a group of about 20 people. Students are typically expected to engage in additional study (recommended 10 hours).
The resources needed are the services of an AI training organisation to adapt AI course materials for the Public Sector and to deliver the course. The course charge to participants was funded by the Government department. The cost to the government department was to be determined.
Evidence of success
At present 61 Civil and Public Servants have taken the course. As a result of this course, many ideas were brought to the table. Some of the health ideas put forward are:
1· Using AI to better manage waiting lists. 2. Spotting who is likely to miss their hospital appointment. 3· Triaging back pain cases so the most chronically ill get seen first. · 4. Wearable AI to help track hand and eye movements of student surgeons while training.
Potential for learning or transfer
The approach taken with this course could be easily transferred to another region by collaboration with a local AI training organisation.