Meet Rose the chatbot

Article image - Meet Rose the chatbot General Manager, Matthew Atkins with Rose the chatbot visible on his computer screen.

Devonport City Council is the first local government in Tasmania and one of very few in Australia to introduce a chatbot.

General Manager, Matthew Atkins said a chatbot was an artificial intelligence (AI) application that could imitate a real conversation with a user.  It appears as an avatar on Council’s webpage and engages with customers in a manner similar to normal human interaction.

Council’s chatbot was affectionately named Rose following a staff survey and was designed and developed internally using readily available software.

“We are fortunate to have some great staff working in the digital space who have been able to cost effectively create this chatbot over the last 12 months, all based on the real-life customer enquiries that Council receives.

“One of the key benefits of a chatbot is improved engagement with the community through Council’s online presence, by offering a personalised service, gaining insights about the needs of the community, quick response to enquiries and 24/7 availability.

“Council is always looking for ways to improve our services and Rose the Chatbot is a part of Council’s ongoing digital transformation, which is now embedded into our culture of innovation that will continually push for new and better ways to operate.”

Since launching on July 1, Rose has averaged approximately 40 conversations a day. These conversations occur 24/7 and some of the frequent queries have been on receiving renewal notices electronically, rubbish collection times, dog registrations and rates notices, pensioner discounts for rates and questions on planning and building restrictions.

While Rose does not always know the answer to every question, her conversations are routinely monitored and the questions she receives guide her ongoing training and regular professional development.