Using AI to Analyze Public Comments

A new tool is designed to help local governments organize and understand large volume of community input on projects.

1 minute read

April 4, 2024, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


White neoclassical building with cupola and City Hall lettering on front.

labalajadia / Adobe Stock

A new digital tool claims to use artificial intelligence (AI) to help local governments make sense of public comments and community responses to planning and development proposals, reports Keely Quinlan in StateScoop.

The tool is aimed at organizing and parsing large volumes of data to cut down on workload for city administrators. “The new tool, called the AI Sensemaking Assistant, can scan, organize and report on thousands of resident responses to community planning proposals — such as transportation projects and how to use federal funding — quickly and accurately, according to a news release from CitizenLab.”

As Quinlan explains, “While primarily built to improve efficiency, the AI assistant also has controls that ensure every AI-generated statement is traceable to an original community input, according to the company.” The tool is one part of a broader movement toward incorporating machine learning and AI into government and policymaking.

Thursday, March 28, 2024 in StateScoop

Aerial view of homes on beach in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Passes First Legislation Regulating Short-Term Rentals Statewide

The new law will give counties the power to limit number or short-term rentals and convert existing short-term rental units back into long-term residential housing.

May 13, 2024 - USA Today

Google office building in Virginia.

Virginia Data Centers Draining State’s Water Supply

Being the world’s largest data center hub is having a severe impact on local water resources.

May 9, 2024 - Grist

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state.

Northwest Power Demand Could Surge as Data Centers, Transportation Electrification Ramps Up

New estimates project a steady increase in electricity demand due to population growth, data centers, and the shift to electric power in homes, buildings, and transportation.

May 17 - Governing

Blurred traffic speeding by on freeway with Los Angeles skyline in background.

California Testing Per-Mile Gas Tax Alternatives

A summer pilot program will test the fairness and efficacy of collection mechanisms for mileage-based fee options.

May 17 - Newsweek

Close-up of 'Pay rent' note in red marker on day 1 of monthly calendar.

After Months of Decreases, Rents Nationwide Are Going Up

Average rents rose by $12 around the country so far this year.

May 17 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.