New York City

New York City unveils AI action plan

The first of its kind for a major U.S. city, the strategy sets a framework for the responsible roll out of artificial intelligence by agencies.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, pictured here at an earlier event, announced the launch of the city's AI action plan on Monday.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, pictured here at an earlier event, announced the launch of the city's AI action plan on Monday. John Lamparski/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Monday unveiled an action plan for responsible municipal government use of artificial intelligence, the first plan of its kind for a major U.S. city.

The New York City Artificial Intelligence Action Plan includes a broad framework through which city agencies can evaluate AI-driven tools and their risks, help employees build their knowledge of and skills with the technology and responsibly implement AI to help improve city residents’ quality of life.

In a statement, Adams said the action plan “will empower city agencies to deploy technologies that can improve lives while protecting against those that can do harm.” Even as AI could be a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to more effectively deliver for New Yorkers,” Adams said city leaders must be “clear-eyed about the potential pitfalls and associated risks these technologies present.

To that end, the action plan has 37 “key actions,” with 29 set to be started or completed within the next year. Some of those actions include establishing an AI governance framework that acknowledges the risks associated with the technology and creating an external advisory body to consult across sectors about AI’s opportunities and challenges. 

Those actions will be phased so that agencies can evaluate the risks associated with AI and determine whether an AI tool is the right technology to improve people’s lives. Fifty city employees from 18 agencies contributed to the plan, as did businesses, academics and representatives of civil society.

The action plan pledges a “holistic, adaptable framework” governing AI use in city government. The guidelines to be produced for city agencies will help ensure the responsible use of the technology and be consistent with values including transparency, privacy, non-discrimination and cybersecurity. Agencies are encouraged to help define ways to proceed with AI that address their needs while ensuring the technology is used responsibly, and they will be supported in implementing the technology, the plan states.

Employee training is also key and staff will be trained on how to work with and on AI. The action plan said it is important to recognize that “AI literacy is critical not just for those in technical roles, but also for the many public servants who use, manage, or make decisions about AI tools.”

The city also will develop streamlined and specific procurement guidelines to support agency-level contracting, avoiding redundancies and supporting access to tools that are in high demand—all while looking to mitigate risks in the evolving technology.

“This framework will help city agencies take advantage of AI's potential to better deliver vital services while protecting New Yorkers’ privacy and concerns about bias,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright in a statement.

Part of the rollout includes the introduction of the new MyCity Business website, which includes the pilot of the first ever citywide AI-driven chatbot. The effort builds on the MyCity portal, which launched in March to help city families access childcare. The chatbot uses information published by the city’s Department of Small Business Services to give business owners answers to their conversational questions about owning and operating establishments in the city.

The chatbot is intended to save business owners time and money, and to serve as an “easily accessible, all-in-one resource for applications, permits, licenses, and related information needed to open and operate a business in New York City,” officials said. It will provide them with instant information from NYC Business about code compliance, incentives and best practices to avoid fines and violations, the city said.

New York City Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin Kim called the chatbot a “game-changer for small businesses across the city.” He said in a statement that small business owners “will not only save time and avoid frustrations with the streamlined site, but also connect more easily with the resources that can help take their business to the next level.”

The city promised to work to immediately implement the action plan, and officials said they welcome feedback on their strategy.