Here at the Strategic Alliance For Emergency Resilience (SAFER), we're always trying to find better ways to do things for the greater good. Today, we're happy to announce that we've added an Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot to our site to help you with your information searches related to emergency management here in British Columbia (BC). To us, this emergency management AI tool is just another way of helping you find the information you need in one location. It should speed up things for you once you get in the groove of using it.
Recall a few months back we created the Situational Awareness page where we added links to a bunch of publicly available websites so that they were gathered all in one place. The origins of that idea go way back to the days of when we used to create a gazillion of our favourite short cuts on our computer desk top and then try to keep them organized. Similarly, we were looking for an interesting way to organize a ton of relevant public content for available here in British Columbia and we landed on the idea of an emergency management AI chatbot.
We identified around 300 different documents and websites that contained relevant guidance and reference types of information and trained the AI on that. For those of you who are looking to do something similar. We made an interesting observation along the way.
Common themes in AI related literature for a few years now have been around how you need a lot of big data...and we mean a LOT...to train an AI. That is certainly the case for all the big players like Open AI (ChatGPT), IBM's Watson, Google AI and a bunch of others. But it turns out that you can train an AI to be expert in a niche topic with very little data.
In our case, the 300 or so sources that we used are so insignificant in the big data scheme of things compared to all the content that is available on the web. Yet, it turns out that our little emergency management AI tool doesn't do all that bad of a job. Like any AI chatbot, you have to use the right kind of prompts to get the best results. Over time, the more you use AI chatbots the better you get at prompting them. It's kind of like you get to know them a bit more, and they definitely get to know you a bit more. It's the simple little tricks like identifying what it is that you want them to do for you using clear, specific instructions and using open ended questions. The AIs work on the basis of pattern recognition so over time, they will tend to recognize what you look for and how you ask for it. They will start to get smarter about serving you the information you're looking for.
We're looking at some different use cases for it, and the one that we landed on for sure was the idea for creating a custom AI chatbot that is trained and expert on an organization's internal documents and information only. For us with this particular tool on the SAFER site, the organization is the BC Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR). The organization-specific information is all the content that it has freely available on its public website. There's actually quite a lot of good stuff there. Using that content, we trained the chatbot to focus only on information that is relevant to emergency management in BC.
We've tested this approach with a couple of other clients and it seems to work. We trained their AI tools with about 20 or so of their own internal emergency management documents and relevant provincial content from public websites. It works fairly well. We have a friend who is the Emergency Program Coordinator for his community and he's not a strong paperwork kind of a guy when it comes to getting cost reimbursements back out of the province. So we had him ask the AI to list all the supporting documentation he would need to submit a cost reimbursement claim to EMCR. You should have seen the smile on his face when it got back a nice short concise list.
We're not saying this tool is perfect. No AI really is yet, although they are getting better by the day. AIs sometimes have what's called a hallucination where they don't quite get it right and send back some obscure, and often entertaining response. We did see a little bit of that when we first started exploring the idea of an emergency management AI, but we're also noticing that the hallucinations are an exception rather than a rule. But what we are saying is that it can be another tool in your emergency management tool chest. You won't know if you don't try. So please feel free to take our emergency management AI chatbot for a test drive. We don't make any claims about the accuracy or currency of the information because it is all from public sources, mostly owned by government programs. But the cool thing about this tool is that it will return you a response, and it will also list the resources that it used to craft that response. That allows you to download the document or go to the website where the AI got its information for you. That's kind of a handy feature we figure. If you want to learn more about this emergency management AI tool, you can contact us here on the SAFER site. Just go to the "Get In Touch" button on the upper right hand corner. Someone will get back to you in fairly short order.
The Strategic Alliance For Emergency Resilience is a consortium of 6 like-minded individuals with small consulting firms whose range of operational emergency management experience is unparalleled here in British Columbia. We have an extended network of associates and if we can't provide you a service or answer your question, we generally know someone who can.