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New chatbot service allows residents to report municipal issues through WhatsApp and Telegram

New chatbot service allows residents to report municipal issues through WhatsApp and Telegram

A sample interface of the OneService chatbot on WhatsApp. (Images: Municipal Services Office and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group)

SINGAPORE: Residents can now report municipal issues such as cleanliness, illegal parking or animal issues in their neighbourhood via a chatbot on WhatsApp and Telegram. 

As part of Singapore's national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy, the Municipal Services Office (MSO) and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) have launched a new AI-powered OneService chatbot, they said in a press release on Thursday (Jul 15). 

This allows residents to "easily report municipal issues on the go" via WhatsApp and Telegram.

"The OneService Chatbot is a project under the National AI Strategy that supports ongoing improvements in the responsiveness of municipal service delivery," they said. 

It is hosted on "commonly-used social messaging platforms" so as to make it even more convenient and accessible for residents to provide feedback on municipal issues. 

Currently, members of the public can provide feedback on such issues through scanning QR codes at common places such as HDB lift landings.

They can also do so using the OneService App, which requires users to lodge a case by selecting a list of issues, and filling in information fields such as the date, time, as well as location in a "structured manner". 

With the chatbot, users are not required to classify the feedback into "predetermined categories at the outset", said the authorities. Instead, the chatbot - built on GovTech's Virtual Intelligent Chat Assistant (VICA) platform - utilises AI to predict the nature of the feedback based on the user's initial description. 

READ: New QR code initiative to speed up process of providing feedback on municipal issues

To ensure that the feedback is "comprehensively" logged, the chatbot guides users to provide relevant information in real-time conversational manner. 

The feedback will be automatically routed to the agency-in-charge of the issue based on text, geo-location and images submitted by the resident. 

Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister for National Development, said the OneService App currently receives about 20,000 instances of municipal feedback per month.

"We hope the chatbot will make submitting feedback even easier, and more intuitive," said Ms Sim in a Facebook post. 

Before this "beta" launch, MSO and GovTech conducted user trials involving 450 participants, who "generally found the chatbot easy to use and accurate at identifying the crux of the municipal issue being surfaced". 

"MSO and GovTech have refined the chatbot based on this and other useful feedback. 

"For example, adjusting the text exchanges for clarity, and retraining the AI model to improve accuracy of predictions," they said. 

Residents can start a conversation with the chatbot by texting "Hi" to +65 9821 9004 on WhatsApp or to @OneServiceSG Bot on Telegram. They can also use the weblinks go.gov.sg/oneservice-whatsapp (WhatsApp) or go.gov.sg/oneservice-telegram (Telegram).

Residents are also encouraged to add the chatbot to their contact list for easier reference when needed. 

READ: Singapore to increase spending on ICT to S$3.8 billion; more projects for SMEs

CHATBOT PERSONALITY DESIGN COMPETITION

As part of the "beta" launch, MSO will be holding a chatbot design competition to determine the "personality" of the OneService chatbot. 

The competition will run from Jul 15 to Sep 14, 2021. The winner will be awarded S$600 worth of shopping vouchers, and their submission will be adopted as the "personality" of the chatbot. 

Participants will have to submit an artwork of an avatar or character, along with a 500-character description of the artwork. 

The write-up should include details such as the name of the avatar, the inspiration behind it as well as its personality. 

READ: New version of myENV app launched, providing information on environment, water and food

The result of the competition will be announced on MSO's social media platforms. The winner will also be notified and the agencies will work with the winner to finalise the design of the chatbot's personality.

The competition is open to all Singapore residents. 

Source: CNA/lk

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