Mississippi's upgraded website offers virtual reality tours of the state capitol building.

Aug 17 2017

State and Local Websites Get High-Tech Upgrades

While many government websites are lackluster, a new enthusiasm for high-tech sites is sweeping the country.

Government websites are notoriously behind the times, often proving difficult to navigate or understand.

But with digital government hinging on investment in quality websites, many localities are starting to take notice and make high-quality upgrades.

Mississippi’s Website Embraces Next-Generation Digital Tools

Mississippi is going whole hog on connected technology with a June update to the state’s government website that includes virtual reality, a voice assistant and a chatbot, StateScoop reports.

Citizens’ expectations of digital platforms continue to evolve,” said Craig Orgeron, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services, in a press release. “Mississippi has responded to those growing needs by thinking outside the browser and bringing successful private sector technologies to government. Technologies like machine learning and virtual reality.”

Now, visitors can access a VR tour of the state capitol building, which provides information on six areas of the historical site for tourists and curious citizens. The state follows in the footsteps of Louisiana, which recently introduced VR videos on its website to encourage tourism.

Further, the Mississippi website includes an expanded version of its Amazon Alexa digital voice assistant, originally launched last year. This feature, which now offers traffic alerts and top area news, can help the state’s disabled and elderly citizens more easily navigate the website and the state’s services. Georgia also launched a similar pilot program using the voice-controlled tech earlier this year.

Chatbots Enter State Websites to Offer 24/7 Support

Government websites are renowned for their confusing navigation. This is likely why, alongside the other improvements, Mississippi introduced an artificial conversational chatbot on its site that aims to deliver 24/7 support to residents looking for information or services.

The state isn’t alone in adding a chatbot to its web presence.

Earlier this year, Arkansas introduced a chatbot via its Gov2Go app, a personal government assistant project that is looking to introduce chatbots to relieve phone line congestion and help streamline many of the questions the state’s government agencies get each month.

“With chatbots, we hope to enable citizens to get answers to many types of questions using machine learning, and with human assistants providing support as needed,” Arkansas CIO Yessica Jones told Government Technology.

Moreover, Los Angeles has introduced a chatbot named Chip, which stands for City Hall Internet Personality, to its Business Assistant Virtual Network. Chip has helped cut in half the number of emails BAVN receives each week.

“Chip is an anytime, anywhere resource to understand how to do business with the city,” Los Angeles CIO Ted Ross told Government Technology in a different article. “When you have a city of over 4 million people it’s impossible to bring everyone into a football stadium all at once to talk to them. Technology is the platform in which we engage people.”

Mississippi State Government

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