Earlier this year I was chatting with my neighbor, who happens to be fairly active in local politics, and we started to explore the possibility of how AI might impact local government, in particular how it might make public services more accessible and public engagement more practical for a broader group of people.

Currently, very few people actively engage in local politics, and while there are many services available, it can be difficult for people to access, navigate, or digest.

Imagine if you could use a chat interface to access city services, stay up to date and better understand local issues, weigh in on public discourse via public comment, and help keep city officials more accountable.

I’ve started to work in this direction with Ask PDX a chat interface which allows users to ask questions about Portland’s city code and charter.