Chatbot joins Council team as transformation continues
The transformation of Council services in Aberdeen took a major step forward today with the launch of AB-1 – Scotland’s first Microsoft local authority chatbot.
AB-1 can be found on Aberdeen City Council’s website, where our customers can key in questions about the following areas of operation:
- Waste and recycling;
- Roads and street lighting;
- Council Tax.
The chatbot will answer these questions directly or signpost customers to relevant information. AB-1 has the capability to “learn” how to deal with queries in the most effective way and the number of services covered will be expanded in due course.
AB-1 is the product of an ongoing collaboration between the Council and Microsoft, formed to harness digital technology to transform service delivery with the aim of increasing convenience for customers, freeing staff to carry out specialised tasks, and saving public money.
Council Co-Leader Councillor Douglas Lumsden said: “In building a Council for the future, we are taking advantage of new technology to greatly improve services for people.
“Our customers will be able to call on AB-1 for instant answers to their questions, asked from the comfort of their own home or on the move at any time of day or night.
“Our work with Microsoft is truly ground-breaking and is positioning Aberdeen as one of the most forward-thinking local authorities in the country.”
AB-1 appears on the Council website’s homepage as well as landing pages for council tax, waste and recycling, education and childcare, roads, transport and parking.
Research was carried out to identify where technology could be used to deliver information more quickly and ultimately improve the customer experience.
Director of Customer Services Andy MacDonald said: “Aberdeen City Council is modernising its business through collaboration with Microsoft by redesigning services around the customer and their needs.
“Digital technology is allowing us to do this in new and exciting ways. We look forward to developing AB-1 in the months ahead as well as progressing other cost-effective innovations that will transform both the Council and our interactions with customers.”
Chris Perkins, General Manager, Public Sector, Microsoft UK, said: “The launch of AB-1 marks another important milestone in Aberdeen City Council’s digital transformation journey.
“Its ambition to harness the power of Artificial Intelligence to improve citizen services whilst reducing costs is a great inspiration and shows the art of the possible when technology is embedded at the centre of local government.”
The Council’s work with Microsoft builds on in-house digital programmes.
In January 2019 Aberdeen City Council became the first local authority in Scotland to launch both school admissions and placing requests as a fully online process. Earlier this month the Council also successfully launched an internal chatbot to help with payroll and leave queries.
Partly in recognition of its commitment to transformation, including digital, Aberdeen has been shortlisted for Council of the Year category at the annual LGC Awards – the only Scottish authority in the running.
AB-1: an introduction
Name – AB-1
Occupation – Chatbot for Aberdeen City Council.
Home – Aberdeen, but I can be reached from everywhere. All you need is internet access.
Role – Helping council customers and staff.
Likes – Questions, questions and more questions…
Dislikes – Not having an answer immediately to hand. I’m learning all the time, so please be patient with me!
Languages – English and a little bit of Doric. The more questions I’m asked, the more my language skills improve.
Favourite food – Megabytes of course!
Proudest achievement – Being Scotland’s first Microsoft bot