Mark Whitehead 10 December 2018

Councils given over £1m for chatbots

Local authorities will be given almost £1.3m of Government money to investigate how digital technology such as chatbots, artificial intelligence and one-stop shop websites can improve services.

Local government minister Rishi Sunak announced winning applicants receiving money from the first round of a £7.5m fund.

The 16 projects were awarded grants of up to £100,000 with 57 councils working in teams to shape new digital services and explore the potential of modern technology.

Projects include exploring how virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa can improve the lives of people in need of care, improving online tools for reporting social home repairs, and using data analytics and artificial intelligence to produce education plans for children with special needs.

Other areas of research include giving frontline social workers better access to information to make crucial decisions and improving software used by council planning departments.

Mr Sunak said: 'Ultimately our aim is to make services better for users but it is likely to reduce costs for councils too.

'This could be by improving the experience of someone in care, streamlining the admin that comes with the stress of moving home, or offering a simpler way to license taxis.

'And these are just some of the successful ideas which I am delighted to announce Government funding for today. I’m excited to see these projects come to fruition.'

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