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Fingal CoCo Introduce IBM AI


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CategoryBusiness
DateTuesday, December 22, 2020
AuthorNewdesk@IrishDev.com

Fingal CoCo Introduce IBM AI

Fingal County Council Use Artificial Intelligence by IBM Watson to Answer Covid-19 Questions in Both English and Irish

In an effort to combat a 'Covid Christmas' Fingal County Council have answered the challenge of keeping the communication lines open to members of the public around the clock by using AI technology to answer the most common questions around Covid-19. It is available in both English and Irish languages.

Annmarie Farrelly Fingal County Council said IBM Watson has made it easier and quicker for citizens to access the information they need.

The pace and timescale of the pandemic has created long term implications for local government to ensure the needs of the public continue to be met. This includes the growing expectation for instant and remote access to trusted information from local agencies, services and organisations.

When the pandemic struck back in March, Fingal County Council responded by working at pace to develop a virtual agent with IBM and SureSkills Consulting. Called ‘COVID-19 Assistant’, the AI virtual agent uses IBM Watson Assistant and is trained to answer questions from members of the public to provide a targeted, integrated and coordinated approach to the delivery of Fingal's services during the current pandemic. Since launching it has helped to answer the unprecedented flood of information requests, while reducing the overload on the Council’s Call Centres.

Based on IBM Watson Assistant on the IBM cloud, the virtual agent replies to common queries on COVID-19 initially in English. It uses Watson Assistant and natural language processing capabilities from IBM Research, which helps organisations create powerful virtual agents that understand the unique language of their business. The agent was being tailored to use Irish language and that has now gone 'live'.

The virtual agent is deployed in a web browser and built with security that safeguards the privacy of the users. It has been designed to continuously evolve and learn through its use and user feedback. All responses are based on information from trusted sources.

Questions the virtual agent can answer include, "Can a Volunteer collect my shopping?" or "I want to look at planning applications for my area?" If the agent does not have the answer it redirects the user to the specific information on the Council’s website, or to other websites related to the query.

Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, AnnMarie Farrelly (pictured) said: “By using this type of advanced technology we are making easier and quicker for citizens to access the information they are looking for. It has enhanced the Community Call Helpline service and is a key resource in the management and operation of our community support programme which we provide with our partner agencies and groups.”

Ronan Dalton, CTO, IBM Ireland, said: “IBM has years of experience helping global businesses and institutions use Natural Language Processing and other advanced AI technologies to better meet the demands of their customers. In applying these technologies to the COVID-19 crisis, Fingal County Council is demonstrating that AI has the power to be your agent during this uncertain time.”

 

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