Bradford Council looks to chatbots

Authority considers deployment of technology to reduce use of phone and face to face support

Bradford Metropolitan District Council is exploring the possibilities of equipping its website with a chatbot to deal with citizens’ enquiries.

The authority has launched a pre-procurement exercise and is looking to hear from potential suppliers, who are asked to submit an expression of interest. Bradford will then gather interested firms – most likely via videoconferencing – and invite them to take part in a question-and-answer session, and also to conduct a demo of their technology.

The goal of this exercise is to “establish the current options available of suitable solutions”.

The authority ultimately hopes to identify a technology that could both improve service levels and save money.

“Bradford Metropolitan District Council would like to look at opportunities to install a chatbot on our website, to enable residents to find the answers to their questions on our website more easily,” it said. “We would like to reduce the need for the customer to telephone our contact centre or visit council offices. The council would like to increase efficiency and make costs savings whilst ensure customer service experience does not suffer.”

Suppliers have until 15 July to express their interest. Once this engagement phase is complete, the “council will decide whether to proceed to a full procurement exercise”. If and when it does so, it indicated a budget of up to £30,000 for the work.


Sam Trendall

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