AI: The hype and the hysteria!
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the tech topic of the moment, and the buzz has been increasing in intensity in the year or so since ChatGPT launched its public platform. To those in the know, after decades of research and development work, it was wholly inevitable that one day AI would emerge from the shadows to be recognised as perhaps the ultimate achievement of the information age.
By hosting the 2023 Artificial Intelligence Safety Summit, the UK is vying for a position as a leader. The international event at Bletchley Park was attended by many of the major players and is a Prime Ministerial intervention in the AI sector, with the aim of making the UK a key global player in determining the future development, regulation and application of the technology.
Interest in AI seems to be on a spectrum, with ‘hype’ on one end and ‘hysteria’ at the other. For some, the hype may be in overestimating the capability of AI. For others, the hysteria is driven by the potential negative impacts of the technology. For the latter, AI taking jobs seems quite acceptable compared to the worst case scenarios, where rogue AIs escape from human control to enslave or perhaps even annihilate us.
Artificial general intelligence (AGI), that is AI comparable to human intellect, is yet to be fully achieved, with some experts believing it may be unobtainable, despite the impressive capabilities of the current wave of generative AI platforms. Should that be the case, then ‘super intelligent’ AI, which some may define as AI capable of working out that it doesn’t need humans, may never be developed!
If we place such debate to one side, there are far more constructive ways to apply AI at its current level of sophistication for useful and practical purposes.
Expectations for higher levels of customer care from residents
In the private sector, many businesses that serve consumers focus on using high levels of customer care as a differentiator to win and retain market share. When transposed onto services delivered by local government, the expectation is for high levels of resident care from public services.
AI-powered service automation tools are helping local authorities to deliver on this expectation. Wherever possible, LAs are implementing programs of digital transformation, moving away from paper-based processes to digitised systems. These councils now have the opportunity to be more ambitious, by utilising AI.
This uses two key aspects of technology – integration and automation – to innovate in the delivery of service to residents. Integration enables interoperability between different systems or platforms. Automation performs process steps unattended, without the need for human intervention.
Deploying AI to improve waste management services and reduce costs
Whitespace delivery partner Logicdialog specialises in solutions that combine AI, integration and automation to drive efficiency and provide significant cost savings. Logicdialog has established that waste collection is a significant driver of inbound contact activity to LAs by residents. AI-based technologies enable as much as 80% of these inbound contacts to be fully automated.
Council websites are the first port of call for many residents seeking information on local services. Embedding a chatbot within the council website waste management pages is a very effective tool for reducing the volume of inbound email and phone enquiries. The technology is highly adaptable and can be implemented over practically any channel, including dealing with queries or requests submitted via email, or social channels such as Facebook.
The chatbot is a Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology, the same type of AI as ChatGPT, and is able to understand the precise nature of a resident’s waste management enquiry. The chatbot utilises information from systems integrated via API connectivity, namely council CRM data and Whitespace mobile In-cab technology. The chatbot leverages the data from live updates for bin collection rounds, delivering greater value from the Whitespace waste management solution.
This enables a wide range of routine queries to receive accurate and appropriate responses. This is all performed through automation, eliminating the need for council staff to become involved, unless it is beyond the scope of the system and requires human intervention.
Waste management AI chatbot solution benefits
Logicdialog has already helped a number of LAs drive down the volume of calls and emails across waste management and other service areas. Importantly, the technology acts as a filter, preventing time from being wasted on unnecessary activity by qualifying and flagging enquiries that require human intervention.
Key functionality provide by the chatbot includes:
- Bin collection day lookup to automatically deal with one of the most popular enquiries
- Missed bins – checking bin collection data live updates to establish whether a bin was accidentally missed, has an altered collection time, or was tagged as containing the wrong waste, and so on
- Order new bags, sacks and containers in line with the specific options allocated to each UPRN
- Manage different size bin requests, filtering out those where the user doesn’t meet qualification criteria, such as family size
- Order replacements for broken or stolen bins
- Report spare or abandoned bins for collection by the council
- Manage bin orders for new builds on behalf of developers or householders
Ultimately for council waste management services, Logicdialog AI chatbots save time and money, while for residents, the technology helps to provide reliable and quick responses, making for positive customer experiences.
Get more value from waste management technology from Whitespace
Whitespace is the UK’s partner of choice for developing technology solutions that address the logistical problems of waste management. To find out more about Whitespace Municipal Waste Management solutions, please get in touch by calling us on +44 (0)1483 231 650 or emailing us at email@example.com