PROSPECT PARK — The borough is using artificial intelligence on its website to give immediate answers about everything from the address of the nearest hospital to instructions for how to apply for a building permit.
The search function, introduced this week, allows users to type questions in plain speak and to receive AI-generated responses in a matter of moments.
Borough Administrator Intashan Chowdhury said the new technology, engineered by San Francisco-based Polimorphic Inc., will streamline engagement between residents and the local government.
The AI tool cannot be stumped.
It was asked, for example, “What do I need to do to put up a shed?”
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And it responded with a link to a digital application, with contact information for the building department and the added detail that the permit fee is $50.
Mayor Mohamed Khairullah said the technology will mean that residents will not have to visit the borough hall as often, freeing staff time for issues requiring face-to-face interaction.
While it is a timesaver for staff, he said, the “ultimate goal” is to increase how much “meaningful time we dedicate directly to the public.”
Chowdhury said the AI is being employed responsibly, noting that its responses are curated from the website itself and not from outside sources.
Parth Shah, the co-founder of Polimorphic, said the AI not only reduces the workload for staff, but that it transcends language barriers by simplifying complex issues into answers that are easy to grasp.
In that way, he said, the technology creates a “connected” and “efficient” community.
On top of the AI-powered search function, the borough partnered with Polimorphic to digitize important documents, such as applications for garage sales and marriage licenses, and forms to make requests for public records.
Industry analysts predict that the AI market will grow substantially in the years to come.
According to a recent article by Forbes Advisor, the technology will contribute a 21% net boost to the nation’s gross domestic product by the end of the decade.
At the same time, however, more than 75% of consumers surveyed by the personal finance site are concerned about AI spreading misinformation.
Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.