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East Riding Council adopts generative AI policy


Mark Say Managing Editor

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East Riding Council has adopted a formal policy for the use of generative AI, highlighting the need for accountability, governance and ethics in the deployment of the technology.

The local authority’s cabinet approved the approach at its meeting on Tuesday, responding to a report by its executive director of corporate resources, Darren Stevens.

A council spokesperson said: : “The new policy, approved by the council’s cabinet, has been introduced to ensure that staff have guidance on the rules about the use of generative artificial intelligence.

“The policy provides a framework to ensure that use is ethical, complies with all applicable laws and regulations and complements existing data protection and ICT security policies."

The move has come as many councils have begun to explore the potential of generative AI, but on a small scale without any foundation in policy.

Last year public sector IT association Socitm published a sample policy that could be used as a framework by local government.

Fairness, priorities and values

The East Riding policy includes stipulations that the technology may be used for work related purposes such as generating text or content for reports, emails and presentations, but has to be done in a way that promotes fairness, avoids bias and aligns with the council’s priorities and values. This should involve an equality analysis and for individual projects.

It says there should be no processing of personal or commercially sensitive data, and that any generative AI solutions must be assessed by the council’s technology service, using information from a data protection impact assessment, to maintain security. If an author has any doubt about the security of information input they should not go ahead.

The policy also highlights the data sovereignty and protection elements involved; and points out that it is hard to identify environmental impacts as, while using relevant solutions in the cloud will reduce the council’s direct energy consumption, it will be countered by increased consumption by large scale providers.

Changing work

Stevens’ report to the council’s cabinet states: “GenAI will inevitably change the way that we all work. Solutions such as Microsoft Copilot have the potential to disrupt how all office based activities are undertaken with many processes automated.

“However, whilst this will significantly streamline processes it does not dissolve the responsibility for the content created, there will always be a need for a human author who is ultimately responsible for the content.”

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