Preston secures £80,000 to look into use of chatbots and Artificial Intelligence

Preston City Council is to be part of a project to investigate the use of chatbots and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is set to get £80,000 funding.

Thursday, 13th December 2018, 4:53 pm
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 8:31 am
Preston Town Hall

The aim of the joint council-led project is to look into the opportunities provided by chatbots and AI and see if it might improve customer service and increase efficiency.

Coun Martyn Rawlinson, cabinet member for resources at Preston City Council, said: “We have always looked to provide the best services we can for the city’s residents.

“We already have automated services available through our website, but we are keen to explore the possibilities that further automation affords. “This project, in conjunction with other councils, will ensure that Preston is on course to remain at the forefront of innovation in providing its services.”

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Chatbots allow customers to raise queries, get information or request services using natural language.

They can be used in messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa.

The Local Digital Fund was established to help local authorities explore and build common solutions to shared problems by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

A total of £7.5m was allocated, attracting 389 expressions of interest from local authorities, from which 150 were invited to make full applications.

Bosses at the council say the funding will help the project to increase and share understanding of the technology with other councils and examine products that already exist in the market.