WienBot answers questions from citizens and tourists about parking locations or government services in the city of Vienna in Austria.
WienBot is a chatbot, and learns from each interaction, discerning the most frequently used terms in the request lines.
Last year, the city of Vienna announced WienBot will be available as an app and can process citizens’ complaints.
Analyst firm Gartner Inc cites WienBot as an example of how CIOs can utilise AI to drive citizen-centric services for smart cities.
“Chatbots let citizens navigate government entitlements and create easy access for citizens to understand and engage with local services,” says Gartner, in a recent report.
The report says AI-powered chatbots and learning technologies let CIOs tailor predictive services based on city conditions and needs of the citizens, and accelerate public service delivery.
Advanced analytics with chatbots, meanwhile, will help improve decision making, problem solving, anomaly detection and citizen-facing communications.
Developments in AI also mean conversational platforms shift complexity and workload from being a user problem to a technology capability.
“Instead of people needing to become computer-literate, computers are becoming ‘people literate’ - with a deepening, contextualised understanding of the person with whom they interact,” according to the report by Gartner analyst Bettina Tratz-Ryan.
Chatbots also provide opportunities for city CIOs to explore and cross-reference applications, map them with sentiment from social media and chatrooms, and reach an audience that are more likely to use the internet and smartphones.
An example, says Gartner, is by providing government touchpoints such as permits, applications and operations management in a small and midsize business portal to reduce time and effort in starting a business.
The report notes that while the technology is still in its early stages, CIOs can expect continued advancements to allow AI powered systems to deepen and expand their context, maintain a dialogue and handle ever-more-complex interactions.
Some of these systems can become intelligent agents that will proactively engage with citizens, it states.
But Gartner notes the conversational interaction is only half of the engagement, as work needs to be done on the fulfillment side of conversational agents.
Often, ICT teams focus mainly on the interaction interface to capture as accurately as possible the citizen's "intent”.
Addressing that intent accurately and as completely as possible determines the success of that agent application, says Gartner.
“CIOs should be ready to spend an equal amount of time on the backend fulfillment of their agents.”
The use of AI chatbots will also demand governments to change the way they develop applications.
“Development teams that invest now in building the needed AI skills will be better positioned for innovation compared to teams that focus solely on packaged AI solutions,” says Gartner.
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