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City of Phoenix Drives Citizen Engagement with 311 Chatbot

Phoenix, AZ, USA

At a Glance

City of Phoenix employees participated in an innovation workshop to explore the challenge of improving how the city communicates with customers. They explored a number of current use cases where the access to information could be improved and finalized a chatbot solution.

Problem Addressed

The City of Phoenix is the 5th largest city in the United States with over 1.7 million residents spread over a large geographic area. The City wanted its residents to search and efficiently access information about city services.

Currently, Phoenix operates 19 different call centers to provide information and services to its residents. However, the call centers are only open during weekday business hours, which limits accessibility. In order to extend support beyond the call centers, the City’s website houses a repository of city information that can be conveniently accessed by its residents at any time. The extent of available information on the website, however, can be overwhelming and confusing for a user.

To provide a guided experience for residents so that their top queries like, “What is the waste pick-up schedule?" or "Where can I pay my water bill?" can be answered efficiently, the city designed an interactive chatbot with the Arizona State University Smart City Cloud Innovation Center (ASU CIC).

The City of Phoenix used/is using the ASU CIC Phoenix 311 Chatbot prototype to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

City of Phoenix employees attended an Innovation Workshop hosted by the Arizona State Smart City Cloud Innovation Center (ASU CIC) to explore the challenge of improving how the city communicates with its customers. City employees reviewed a number of current use cases where access to information and the ability to complete transactions could be improved.

Using Amazon’s innovation methodology, the ASU CIC worked backwards from the customer, the City of Phoenix, and designed a 311 Chatbot. This would allow customers to query information that currently requires a call to the call center during business hours or searching through the extensive City of Phoenix website.

During the workshop, the team assessed the data that would be needed, the AWS services that should be used, and a path forward to build out a proof of concept, which was developed and tested within 5 months. The completed Phoenix 311 chatbot could be utilized on desktop and mobile systems and was bilingual - supporting English and Spanish queries as well as providing voice assistance for the visually impaired.

Outcomes

  1. The initial prototype can answer the 30 information queries from the phoenix.gov website and simple service requests from the City Water Department, like “Pay Water Bill”.
  2. The full solution will include the extensive list of queries on phoenix.gov and more complex requests like, “Tell me my account balance”.
  3. Automation of simple service requests allows customers to self-service efficiently and allows Customer Service employees to focus on more complex and time-consuming service requests.

Something Unique

Working Backwards is a mechanism for innovation focused on meeting the needs of customers. The process creates deliverables, including a Press Release, Frequently Asked Questions and a Visual. The process is designed to answer questions about the customer and problem to ensure developers build the right solution.

Who Should Consider?

Local governments that want faster service information for their residents, to reduce call center times, or are attempting to simplify customer engagement.

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