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A.I. will soon provide government services

A local council in North London plans to use an artificial intelligence called Amelia to improve how it deals with its local rate payers.

Enfield Council aims to deploy Amelia, developed by tech firm IPsoft, later in the year and hopes it will be able to perform a variety of roles, from guiding people through the council's website, to helping with planning permission and authenticating permit applications.

The council serves 330,000 residents and is one of London's largest boroughs. The council estimates it receives 55,000 calls, 5,000 face-to-face appointments and 100,000 website visits a month and hopes that Amelia will help absorb some of this demand.

Amelia is a cognitive intelligence developed by IPsoft
IPsoft
Amelia is a cognitive intelligence developed by IPsoft

"We are going to see how we can develop Amelia to make it deal with the initial front-of-house stuff to help our customers navigate around the council and get to the point in the website much more quickly," James Rolfe, Enfield Council's director of finance, resources & customer services, told CNBC in a phone interview.

"Then, we are going to try and use it internally. If we can lighten and streamline some of the process in house, that frees our staff to do more value-added things."

"It is going to enable us to do a lot of things more quickly and enable customers to interact with the council 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Rolfe added. "Because of that it's going to help our limited resources go further."

IPsoft says Amelia is a cognitive intelligence that can perform machine learning and communicate with customers using natural language in order to fulfil a variety of roles. It has previously been used as an IT service desk agent and mortgage broker at different banks.

The company refused to say how much Enfield council was paying to install Amelia in their systems due to commercial confidentiality.

The partnership between IPsoft and Enfield Council is the first time Amelia has been deployed in a public sector role, but IPsoft's European CEO Frank Lansink believes several other governments may adopt artificial intelligence solutions.

"There is an increasing pressure (on the public sector) in terms of budget available. On the other hand, customers are becoming more and more demanding in getting better service," he told CNBC in a phone interview.

"What we see on a global scale is not only councils but nation-wide governments will follow in the footsteps of what Enfield Council is currently doing."

The increasing use of artificial and cognitive intelligence can help companies become more efficient by automating basic tasks, allowing human workers to focus on more complex tasks.

For instance, Telefónica's O2 business uses around 160 "software robots" created by tech company Blue Prism's to automate 15 core processes such as credit checks and order processing. The robots perform the equivalent workload of nearly 100 full time employees, according to Blue Prism.

Lansink predicts that cognitive intelligence solution such as Amelia will continue to become more widespread in the future.

"Technology will work hand-in-hand with the knowledge worker to elevate the worker into providing more value added services to the customer, while cognitive intelligence will be [focused on] the more repetitive, mundane chores," he said.

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