William Eichler 05 September 2018

Councillor designs ‘virtual’ Facebook councillor

The Redditch councillor who set up David Cameron’s official Facebook page has designed his own chatbot service to help local people communicate with the council.

Cllr Mike Rouse designed the chatbot to manage issues such as missed bin collections, contact details, fly-tipping, road closures and requests for tree cutting.

The service will send automated response messages to constituents via the Facebook Messenger service, which will make it easier for people to contact the council but it will also save on printing and distributing leaflets.

‘Millions of people use Facebook as a free platform for communicating with colleagues, friends and family, so why not elected representatives?’ said Cllr Rouse.

‘Often councils have no way of broadcasting information to residents, without incurring substantial costs in delivery of leaflets and literature.

‘Facebook Messenger is an easy-access social media service, allowing constituents to raise issues and get the answers they need to requests.’

The chatbot — or ‘virtual councillor’ — follows a similar proposal by Cardiff Council and will also be used to source feedback on council performance.

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