4 ways ‘Chatbots’ support the Local Authorities to provide better services
Growing Importance of Artificial Intelligence in Public Sector!
‘Chatbot’ has become quite a popular term in the customer service industry. This innovation triggers a new level of customer support and help. From big companies to SMEs, all organisations are exploring opportunities with the chatbots. It’s quite obvious as these Chatbots offer myriad benefits and services. Using chatbots results in the reduced human efforts, standardized services, and higher response. After the boom in private sector, Chatbots have now attracted the government professionals to help citizens.
Basically, a ‘Chatbot’ refers to a computer program that can read and respond in human language. It is able to answer queries and do the basic tasks as directed. Chatbots are programmed to understand specific questions and give a solution. The underlying AI and machine learning concepts support these Chatbots. Artificial intelligence in public sector is gaining its momentum. The authorities are welcoming the new ray of digital transformation.
Chatbots are one of the key opportunities to balance the budget-cuts, handle pressure to deliver services and manage the staff shortages.
Enfield London Borough Council collaborated with IPSoft to introduce the ‘Amelia chatbot’. Their main aim was to digitize frontline services. It became the only council using AI-based chatbot to reduce the workload of their staff. And, it also led to meeting the citizen expectations.
According to a survey by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), 64% of councillors in England believe that digital transformation will have a positive impact on the wellbeing of people in their areas over the next ten years. It strongly supports the increasing influence of artificial intelligence in public sector to streamline service delivery.
By 2021, over 50% of enterprises will invest more on bots and chatbot than traditional mobile app development, suggests Gartner.
There are various applications to harness the Chatbot utility. It has the capability to read and understand the question in the form of text or voice. Then, it will select an appropriate answer from a pool of pre-programmed replies. The wide acceptance of messaging apps, advancements in AI, the ‘app’ culture and the ‘one-to-one’ interaction scenario are all favoring the use of chatbots. Let us see top 4 use-cases where chatbots can help in clearing the backlog of requests in the public sector-
Waste management is a basic and crucial service provided by the councils. The current waste collection system lacks efficiency. With a predefined and estimated schedule, the service is not streamlined as it should be. As a result, councils face over 500 complaints and enquiries about bin collection in a year. Carrying out investigations and attending queries takes lot of time, efforts, and resources. Also, it leads to citizens’ disappointment.
Chatbots can play a key role in helping citizens resolve the waste collection issues. Rather than searching the website or calling the councils to know their bin day, status of bin collection, requesting a new bin, making a complaint about missed bin or any other such information, the citizens can ask the Chatbots. This will ensure that citizens are well-informed. Also, there will be no confusion as the Chatbots will provide them with the exact information. Thus, it will be reducing the workload on the council staff.
There is no alternative to delivering medical services on time. However, due to the shortage of doctors and dwindling resources, there is pressure on NHS to seek some form of help from technology and reach out to the patients. NHS operates its 111 service to answer queries and guide the patients. This service receives around 15 million calls per year. There are many complaints about unanswered calls and untimely help. The situation can get as worse as risking someone’s life.
Employing Chatbots here means reduced direct calls, timely help, quick responses, lesser hospital visits and accurate knowledge passing. For instance, NHS started a Chatbot trial called “NHS 111 powered by Babylon” to meet the increasing healthcare queries. The Chatbot powered by AI assists the patients by asking them few questions, knowing the symptoms and suggesting the medicines or connecting them to the clinician. It will have a significant impact in reducing the burden during the busy hours. Also, patients get their right diagnosis as compared to the non-medical staff answering their calls. They can also seek any general advice and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Joshua Browder, a teenager from the UK, developed a Chatbot called DoNotPay. It helps the citizens to appeal against their parking tickets. Also called the ‘Robot Lawyer’, it uses AI to understand the exact situation. Then it advises with a piece of text to appeal for their cases. The ‘highly-intuitive’ bot has been successful in winning 160,000 of the cases across the London and New York with a 64% success rate. It’s a free service and people have appreciated the concept.
Now, it’s the time for the local authorities to use similar Chatbots. The Chatbots can help the citizens understand the parking ticket fine reason, send them reminders and provide them with help. They should be able to interact with the AI-powered Chatbots in a fair manner. Chatbots well-placed in the parking ticket processes can be a very beneficial use-case for using artificial intelligence in public sector.
Active citizen participation is essential for a council’s development. Citizens pay the tax and they have all the rights to enjoy public services, know about the latest events, happenings in the city; get access to amenities and report an issue in a seamless manner. Digital initiatives will make sure that there is no communication gap. They can connect with the authorities. Los Angeles developed ‘CHIP’ – the virtual assistant or Chatbot to help its citizens.
The main benefit of such Chatbots is they are accessible from anywhere and anytime. Councils can leverage Chatbots to assist the citizens and find the correct resources. They can ask about upcoming events, check the availability of public amenities, and get assistance about taxes, report issues like potholes or any other general queries. Also, for tourists, Chatbots can be their assistant guiding them about the city. There are many opportunities for the councils to stay connected using the Chatbots without hiring extra staff.
Got a Problem? Chatbot’s got the Solution!
The acceptance of artificial intelligence in public sector will boost the use of Chatbots. The local authorities can speed up their operations. They will be able clear their backlog faster with the help of Chatbots. Since these virtual agents can address more concerns with accuracy, there will be a drastic change in delivering services. Also, it will reduce the workload on the council staff so that they can focus on the tasks that need human empathy and intelligence. Besides that, councils can assure a 24×7 service to their citizens.
Get it done with Chatbots!