Jun 26 2023

Easily Scalable Chatbots Facilitate Fast Citizen Service

State and local governments may soon adopt artificial intelligence tools to make advancements in service.

Not long ago, a CDW subsidiary built a chatbot for a state judicial branch. This chatbot is able to field a large volume of simple inquiries, such as how to pay traffic tickets. It’s a win-win technology. Courts save time answering repeating queries while citizens receive clear and fast answers.

The court system is very motivated to provide access to justice and resources to achieve it. The chatbot environment ensures equitable access to everyone who wants to find information. In the past, people may not have been able to discover information easily, or the courts may not have been able to employ enough people to keep call centers open long enough to handle all questions.

Court systems across the nation have a similar interest, and so do all state and local government agencies. Chatbots provide an open avenue for citizens to acquire information while reducing the strain on government resources through automation.

A chatbot can explain how to pay a traffic ticket accurately and quickly many times over and facilitate payment by linking to a payment site. Chatbots now can collect and distribute government forms, check data against government records, and interface with other sources to facilitate payments and other services. And it can do all of these things at any time of day.

Click on the banner to learn about management solutions when you become an Insider.

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.

LEARN MORE: How local agencies can improve citizen services with edge computing.

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.

This article is part of StateTech’s CITizen blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #StateLocalIT hashtag.


Galeanu Mihai/Getty Images

Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.