A Conversation with ChatGPT on Local Governments, Emerging Technologies


  • Lena Geraghty
April 27, 2023 - (6 min read)

ChatGPT is the new buzzword in the emerging tech space. Since its launch in November 2022 by OpenAI, there’s been a lot of conversation about how ChatGPT will change the ways in which workers work, students learn and governments provide services. This blog will explore what ChatGPT is and its implications on the future of local government. 

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot built on top of a large language model (LLM). This means that this chatbot has been trained using a vast amount of text and can respond like a human to a wide variety of prompts from the user. Because ChatGPT is continually learning and evolving, the Urban Innovation Team at NLC has been exploring what ChatGPT knows about local governments and emerging technologies. Below is our conversation with ChatGPT on the topic. 

A Conversation with ChatGPT on Local Governments and Emerging Technologies 

NLC: Hello ChatGPT! What should local government leaders know about you?  
ChatGPT: Hello! As an AI language model, I am designed to understand and process human language to generate responses and provide information. Local government leaders can leverage my abilities to gain insights and make data-driven decisions. Here are a few things that local government leaders should know about me: I am trained on a vast amount of data: I have been trained on a massive dataset of diverse texts from various domains, including news articles, books, and academic papers. This means that I have knowledge on a wide range of topics and can provide information on many different subjects. I can understand and generate natural language: I have been designed to understand and process human language, which means that I can interpret and generate text in a way that is natural and easy for people to understand. I can provide insights and recommendations: Local government leaders can use me to analyze data, identify patterns and trends, and generate insights and recommendations based on that analysis. I can learn and adapt: I am a machine learning model, which means that I can continue to learn and improve over time as I am exposed to more data and feedback. Overall, local government leaders can use me as a tool to help them make data-driven decisions, communicate with their constituents, and stay informed about a wide range of topics.  
NLC: How can ChatGPT be used to help cities solve problems?  
ChatGPT: ChatGPT can be used by cities to help solve problems in a number of ways. Here are a few examples: Information and resource dissemination: ChatGPT can be used to provide citizens with important information and resources related to city services, policies, and initiatives. This can help to improve communication between the city and its residents, and ensure that citizens have access to the information they need to make informed decisions. Predictive analytics: ChatGPT can be trained on historical data to identify patterns and trends that can help cities predict future events, such as traffic congestion, crime rates, and housing needs. This can help city officials make data-driven decisions and allocate resources more effectively. Customer service and support: ChatGPT can be used to provide citizens with customer service and support related to city services, such as answering questions about utility bills, scheduling appointments with city officials, and providing information about city events. Social listening and sentiment analysis: ChatGPT can be used to monitor social media and other online platforms for mentions of the city or its services, and analyze the sentiment of those mentions. This can help city officials understand how citizens feel about the city and its services, and identify areas for improvement. Language translation: ChatGPT can be used to translate communications and materials into different languages to ensure that all citizens have access to important information and resources, regardless of their primary language. Overall, ChatGPT can be a powerful tool for cities to help solve problems and improve communication with their residents.  
NLC: Local government leaders have a lot of competing priorities. What advice would you give a city leader who is deciding whether or not to explore emerging technologies like ChatGPT?  
ChatGPT: When deciding whether to explore emerging technologies like ChatGPT, local government leaders should consider a number of factors, including the potential benefits and risks, the costs and resources required, and the needs and preferences of their constituents. Here are some specific pieces of advice that I would offer: Consider the potential benefits: Emerging technologies like ChatGPT can offer many potential benefits, such as improved communication with citizens, more efficient use of resources, and better data-driven decision making. It’s important to carefully consider these potential benefits and how they align with the city’s goals and priorities. Assess the risks: It’s also important to consider the potential risks associated with emerging technologies, such as data privacy concerns, security risks, and potential biases in the algorithms. Local government leaders should carefully evaluate these risks and take steps to mitigate them. Start small: Exploring emerging technologies like ChatGPT can be a complex and time-consuming process. It’s often best to start small, with a pilot project or limited deployment, to assess the technology’s potential and identify any challenges or issues that may arise. Involve stakeholders: When exploring emerging technologies like ChatGPT, it’s important to involve a wide range of stakeholders, including city officials, residents and experts in the relevant fields. This can help ensure that the technology is being used in a way that is transparent, ethical, and aligned with the needs and preferences of the community. Be open to feedback: Finally, local government leaders should be open to feedback and willing to adjust their approach as needed. Emerging technologies like ChatGPT are constantly evolving, and it’s important to stay up-to-date on new developments and best practices. By remaining flexible and responsive, city leaders can ensure that they are getting the most out of these technologies while minimizing potential risks and challenges.  

We have yet to see the full scope and scale of ChatGPT and its implications on cities, towns and villages across the U.S. However, when used thoughtfully and transparently, tools like ChatGPT have the potential to support local governments in solving problems and meeting community needs.  

Learn More on Emerging Technologies

For more information on emerging technologies, check out NLC’s Future of Cities Initiative, which helps local leaders understand the changes that are already happening in their communities while anticipating the game-changing trends that will define cities in the coming decades. 

About the Author

Lena Geraghty

About the Author

Lena Geraghty is the Director of Urban Innovation and Sustainability in the Center for Municipal Practice at the National League of Cities.