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Four Govt departments trial digital assistants and AI with Datacom

Four Govt departments trial digital assistants and AI with Datacom

Digital assistant being tested to make it easier for businesses to interact multiple government agencies

Digital assistant Tai aims to make compliance easier for business

Digital assistant Tai aims to make compliance easier for business

Credit: Dreamstime

Four large government departments are exploring how digital assistants and artificial intelligence (AI) can help Kiwi businesses find hard-to-find government information.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Customs, Inland Revenue’s Business Rules Centre, and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) have been working with Datacom to find out whether AI has the potential to make it easier for businesses to interact multiple government agencies.

The result is Tai – a digital assistant who can navigate his way through complex information across multiple government websites and quickly provide answers to complex questions.

An initial proof of concept, coordinated by government’s 10-agency Better for Business program, was completed in July, focusing on honey exportation because it required businesses to navigate across two government agencies – MPI and Customs.

Users had the ability to ask questions in plain natural wording and receive clear responses, also in plain language, across the honey exporting domain.

The objective was to find out if conversational AI works in a cross-agency regulatory context and if businesses would be open to have a conversation with a “machine”.

Tai was further inspired by the government's Better Rules initiative, which showcased human and machine-consumable rules as a key component for the digital transformation of government.

Better Rules worked across several government agencies to explore the ideas and practice of turning legislation into machine-consumable "digital rules". This process found opportunities for government in machine consumable legislation to capture benefits from new technologies such as artificial intelligence.

"It’s a perfect example of future-focused digital technologies enabling government service innovation for business customers," said Better for Business director Lisa Casagranda.

“It’s a catalyst to improve the consistency and coordination between agencies and is an important step for government‘s future customer facing digital channels and service delivery.

“By coordinating agencies around important business outcomes and innovating our service delivery models, we aim to make it easier and more seamless for businesses to deal with government.”

Once Tai’s proof of concept testing period is complete, Better for Business and its partner agencies will work to agree on the role of AI in future models of multi-agency service delivery.


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