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Benjamin Palacio

Benjamin Palacio is a Senior IT Analyst on the ESSG-Enterprise Solutions Team in the Placer County Information Technology Department and is a CSAC-credentialed IT Executive. The views expressed here are his own.  He may be reached at


“In an ideal world, governments will be able to request proposals from vendors and reduce AI spin-up times by having these agency-unique models and context engines shareable across various platforms,” writes Ben Palacio, senior IT analyst for Placer County.
“Just as with any Internet search, one must validate the sources of AI,” writes senior IT analyst Ben Palacio. “Would you really believe just anything on the Internet? Does the same question apply to AI? (By the way, you should answer no!)”
“It may seem simple, but the collaboration effort and sharing of imagery services is huge,” writes senior IT analyst Ben Palacio. “This will reduce the number of duplicate efforts being made by various counties statewide.”
According to the California DMV, their chatbot, Miles, has responded to 1.5 million interactions in the first half of 2022. Miles can now also manage website interactions as well as engagements through the customer service phone line.
“I must stop here and give credit where credit is due: The DMV has really turned things around. I remember waiting in lines at the DMV that wrapped around buildings 25+ years ago. Now, people are getting answers to questions immediately with Miles, at any time of day.”
“Although Placer County has been working in the chatbot realm for a few years, only now have we expanded to a sitewide solution,” writes senior IT analyst Ben Palacio. “Now we see a solid user feedback loop! The great part about this is that we now have feedback, even if indirect.”
Even as we work and learn remotely and try to flatten the curve of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Internet providers and telecom carriers must look ahead to the looming threat of summertime power shutoffs. Planning is the key.
"We learn to live in these scenarios, and flexibility has become an essential part of technology."
The role of “System Architect” is rising to the front line again, with a need to design solutions and their ecosystems. ... The system architect must analyze these questions: Who, What, When and Where?
"As a consumer device, Alexa wins, mainly because Amazon has linked so many consumer services and purchasing power to Alexa. However, I believe that Google wins the battle when it comes to government, or informational resources, mainly in the GUI-based Assistant."
Where data lives and how it is accessed are issues that require more strategic analysis than one might think. With more cloud usage comes more strategic architectural design for performance reasons.
During the PG&E outages, several government systems had to rely on generator backups to function properly for the duration. Although alternative power sources like generators are said to be designed for uninterrupted service, it is known that they can fail, just as any other motorized vehicle or machine, creating a single point of failure with the potential for full-scale resource outages. This is not a solution that will withstand years of outages.
"I have been thinking about a theoretical architecture requiring a (chatbot) broker service, a single configuration point in all environments. What are the performance impacts? You might have to wait an extra half a second, but that still beats the hold music on the phone, or waiting in line."
"Previously, I would have had to research the website, probably using up an hour of personal time. With Miles, I was finished in under 5 minutes."
The days of the Business Requirements Document and waterfall methodologies are gone now. Agile development is becoming increasingly popular, especially in small organizations where development tasks are iterative, providing faster success rates.
IT analyst Benjamin Palacio discusses the benefits, the risks and the other concerns surrounding government's move to cloud solutions.
As Placer County IT analyst Ben Palacio sees it, the next pivotal technology in government and the private sector appears to be based on chatbots and artificial intelligence. The dividends from successful implementation could be a game-changer.
Government agencies have a tendency to procure vendor-based systems, applications, websites and more, which often limit capabilities and prevent a focus on data integrations or sharing information across systems.
Building chatbots in a government environment is not difficult; it just requires a bit of additional planning. It is, however, essential to take this step and apply proper organization and security within the chatbot to assist in management tasks.
"In serving the public, it is our obligation to provide as many ways as possible to access information and support including chatbots, websites, 508 ADA compliance, telephony and other such tools and services. This is where integration and platform-agnostic concepts begin to move into the spotlight. AI by itself is rather boring and, in many cases, pointless. However, when integrated with chatbots, user interfaces and telephony solutions, the use cases begin to expand exponentially."