Microsoft and England’s Buckinghamshire to transform public services with AI

photo of a field with a tree during sunset in Buckinghamshire | Buckinghamshire and Microsoft to roll out Copilot

Microsoft has announced today that Buckinghamshire Council, in South East England, has adopted Copilot for Microsoft 365 to transform the delivery of public services in the county.

The Council adopted Copilot in 2023 which comes as many councils around the country are facing decreased budgets and backlogs.

According to the announcement, the council gave access to Copilot to 300 employees who now save 90 minutes a day and use AI to streamline tasks such as drafting responses, summarizing calls and generating actions from meetings. Additionally, the AI tool integrates into Word, Teams, Excel and other Microsoft programs.

As part of the deployment, the Council is enhancing accessibility and inclusivity for the staff and customers by helping hearing-impaired staff transcribe Teams meetings. According to the statement, the Council believes that Copilot could also benefit neurodiverse staff. In the future, it is looking to improve frontline services such as social care and housing with technology.

The council also created its own AI Governance Board and followed Microsoft’s responsible AI framework to ensure trust and accountability. It also collaborates and shares best practices with other public sector organizations and co-chairs a public sector Copilot user group with 400 members that meet monthly to exchange tips and experiences with other local authorities and organizations.

“[Copilot] promises a future where we can proactively identify areas for improvement before they become a drain on resources,” said Marie White, head of customer experience at Buckinghamshire Council. “I’m confident we will continue to see the benefits.”

Peter Parfitt, head of digital at Buckinghamshire Council, also commented on the announcement: “Local authorities are seeing this technology as a partial silver bullet.

“No Council is swimming in cash but we wanted to deploy Copilot, not because we had to do it, but because it was the right thing to do. If we can be more efficient, that’s fantastic. But if we can trim just one percent off the cost of social care, that’s where the real pressures are.”

Among the news on Microsoft’s collaboration with the public sector, the company has recently announced a new cybersecurity program to support hospitals serving more than 60 million people living in rural America with the help of The White House, the American Hospital Association and the National Rural Health Association.