Chatbots Ease Citizen Services by Being Highly Available
All of this occurs easily because chatbots generally have simple, user-friendly interfaces. People type in the questions on their minds, and the chatbot quickly connects it to its function, whether it is in support of a court system, a 311 call center or emergency services.
With access to a computer, citizens may simply begin asking a government chatbot questions, and an agency can quickly return answers to its constituents. Chatbots also can deliver updates or new information quickly to citizens interested in a specific topic.
The city of Phoenix has won accolades for its 311 chatbot, available to residents through myPHX311 at phoenix.gov. Using the chatbot, citizens can pay bills, report issues and make requests. The city collaborated with Arizona State University and Amazon Web Services to produce the chatbot, which now resides on a Microsoft Dynamics platform. Phoenix received recognition in 2021 from the Center for Digital Government as a Digital Cities Survey winner due in part to its chatbot.
Officials also have praised Cabarrus County, N.C., for its innovative chatbots, which help workers file internal forms. The chatbot hosts conversations with workers and then populates forms based on employee answers. No longer do workers have to spend hours tediously filling in the same forms over and over.
Chatbots Can Log Trends and Give Insights
Government officials also can gain incredible insights from the data generated by chatbots. Through citizen engagement, agencies can determine the interests of the public and the general level of knowledge on a topic. They can customize resources in response to those interests, or they can choose to engage citizens to enhance public awareness around specific issues.
About two years ago, a survey by the Center for Digital Government found that 95 percent of counties, 85 percent of cities and 100 percent of states planned to roll out chatbots or already had.
Chatbots will improve at providing relevant and meaningful information, and over time, people may prefer that specificity in their interaction with the government. ChatGPT, the popular large language model, will accelerate chatbot capabilities.
Soon, an artificial intelligence-driven chat may be able to guide people through processes that involve multiple government agencies, for example. This is because AI chatbots can put things together across domains, reaching for example beyond one domain to integrate knowledge from finance, legal and other specialized services. By building across these domains, AI chatbots will transform how governments do business.