London borough Enfield enlists AI employee

Written by Rebecca Hill on 17 June 2016 in News
News

Enfield Council has become the first public body to use IPsoft’s virtual digital employee Amelia to improve local services.

Amelia can analyse language and tone to help resolve problems - Photo credit: IPsoft

The company said that Amelia is capable of analysing language, learning, understanding context, using logic and resolving problems.

The council’s director of finance, resources and customer services James Rolfe described it as a “major milestone” in its efforts to digitise public services.


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Rolfe said: “Our approach to transformation embraces digital technology to find completely new ways of sporting residents, which, in turn, frees up valuable resources for reinvestment in front line services.”

The council plans to use Amelia to help residents carry out a number of online tasks, such as locating information and completing standard application forms. Using artificial intelligence will allow the council to provide such services to the public 24 hours a day.

IPsoft said services using Amelia would begin in autumn this year.

It will be the first time Amelia has been used in the public sector, whose other users include private companies, banks and mortgage brokers in the US and Europe for services including desk queries and managing invoices.

“With the rise of powerful cognitive platforms such as Amelia, government organisations have an opportunity to completely reimagine how frontline public services are delivered,” said Frank Lansink, chief executive office for the EU at IPsoft.

The intention is for the AI employee to do work that is easy to automate and allow council workers to focus on other tasks, which is an idea that Cabinet Office minister has emphasised at a number of recent talks, saying that the civil service should “digitise the drudgery and make public service more rewarding”.

However, with councils facing ever-diminishing budgets, some are concerned that the move to AI will lead to a reduction in staff numbers.

Conservative councillor Jo Laban, deputy leader of Enfield Council’s opposition, told the Evening Standard that there had been "no discussion about this whatsoever in Enfield and the implications could be enormous".

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