Enfield Council to introduce customer service ‘robot’

A robotic employee will be deployed instead of human council workers to deliver frontline public services, it has been revealed.

IPsoft has confirmed that Amelia, its technology platform, will be deployed to work within Enfield Council in a move designed to improve local service delivery across the North London borough – and cut costs for the authority.

It is the first time the model has been used by the British public sector, with one survey suggesting robotic task automation is 60% cheaper than a human worker.

Amelia is described as a virtual agent capable of analysing natural language. She apparently also understands context, applies logic, learns, resolves problems and even senses emotions. She will be put to work within the Council later this year, with services due to be in operation from the autumn.

Amelia has the capabilities to make it easier for residents to locate information and complete standard applications as well as simplify some of the council’s internal processes. For example, the council is evaluating Amelia’s inclusion on the website to help guide people quickly to the correct information, employing Amelia to provide self-certification for planning and making it possible to authenticate applications for permits and licenses.

Chetan Dube, president of IPsoft, has said Amelia was not about “replacing labour with cheaper labour, but replacing labour with cognitive systems — to be able to answer a question as a human would understand it”.

James Rolfe, Enfield’s director of finance, resources and customer services, said: “The customer shouldn’t see they are interacting with a digital agent, it should be a seamless experience.”

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