The Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) and Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) have been exploring the use of virtual assistants (VA) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help citizens and businesses navigate online government services and improve service delivery.
What is Ask Jamie?
Conceptualised in 2014, ‘Ask Jamie’ is a virtual assistant (VA) that can be implemented on agency websites and trained to be able to answer queries within specific domains. To date, Ask Jamie has been implemented across 70 government agency websites. The VA technology helps to provide direct responses to citizens who prefer to search for information online, and in turn, manpower can be re-directed to handle more complex queries and issues.
Ask Jamie taps on its Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine to understand the questions posed by the public and responds with an appropriate answer. When an answer entails multiple permutations, Ask Jamie can be trained to ask follow-on questions to refine the answer to one relevant to the user’s query.
The WOG ‘Ask Jamie’ Virtual Assistant will bring about the following benefits:
- Greater convenience and accessibility to the government, 24/7;
- Quick and direct answers to queries;
- Availability of self-help and reduced need for call centres;
- Ability to get help without the need to know which agencies to go to; and
- Better user experience through conversational digital interactions
What are some of the new developments?
Ask Jamie is now available across agencies
With the ‘No Wrong Door’ approach, Ask Jamie pulls information from the relevant government agency and displays the answer where the query is posed. For example, a citizen may ask about Primary 1 registration on the SLA website, and Ask Jamie will be able to retrieve and offer an answer from MOE’s VA in the same SLA chat window.
Ask Jamie is now Multi-channel
Ask Jamie’s citizen outreach channels have been extended with the use of AI and VA technology in many new areas to improve efficiency. For example, citizens can now perform hands-free voice transactions without using buttons or dials.
• Ask Jamie Email - Using VA for email
• Ask Jamie Voice - Using VA on call centres to automate call answering such as Ministry of Social and Family Development’s baby bonus hotline and MOE’s secondary school posting hotline
• Ask Jamie Live Chat - Integration with voice to speak with call agent
• Ask Jamie Bot - Using VA on Facebook Messenger (to be launched on social media soon)
What are the future plans?
Automation of call centres to address general queries can relieve resources for and reduce costs of call centre operations. Call agents can be relieved from tending to routine queries to focus on more complex questions. A pilot project on automated call answering service has been started with MSF’s Baby Bonus Hotline. There are also plans to roll out ‘Ask Jamie Bot’ on Facebook Messenger in early 2019.
In the next phase, VICA chatbots will eventually replace all 90+ existing “Ask Jamie” government agency chatbots.