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Berger-Levrault and the UOC to create a new generation of chatbots to personalize public support services in town councils

  Photo: Unplash / Lara Far

Photo: Unplash / Lara Far

08/05/2019
Anna Snchez-Jurez
The research project will enable the public to streamline procedures on town council websites in the different countries where Berger-Levrault displays its solutions

Chatbots are becoming an essential tool for companies. These robots, capable of simulating conversations with people, are key to saving customers’ time when completing procedures and to helping workers streamline their work tasks. The French international software group Berger-Levrault and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) have signed an agreement to develop a new generation of chatbots that will help improve personalized attention in public administrations or public service companies.

To date, bot innovation has focused especially on developing high-level graphics environments to aid the definition of conversation flows. However, when a company has to create variants of the same bot to adapt them to their different lines of activity, this still has to be done manually, which means generating each bot adaptation from zero. The agreement between the two institutions will enable a boost in research to create, configure and roll out whole families of bots automatically or semi-automatically.

This is a key aspect for Berger-Levrault, whose specializations include introducing public support portals to town councils. “Each portal is personalized to the specific characteristics of the town council, so it needs its own settings derived from one common axis”, explains Mustapha Derras, Research & Innovation director of Berger-Levrault. Using these settings as a basis, the research aims to generate and roll out each town council’s chatbots automatically. Also, thanks to machine learning, the bots will be able to improve their behaviour autonomously; through constant analysis of public usage data, the bot will be able to predict the public’s future needs and adapt to them.

“A member of the public often knows what they have to do, such as pay their taxes, send online invoices to local government or acquire a certificate, but a service is needed to tell them how to do it. This new generation of bots will be able to respond via online public platforms that are more closely matched to the public’s needs”, points out ICREA research professor at the UOC, Jordi Cabot, director of the University’s Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) research group, Systems, Software and Models Research Lab (SOM Research Lab) from Barcelona.

The CIA (Conversational Intelligent Agent) research project will last one year and will include other artificial intelligence techniques, such as voice recognition or natural language processing to develop this service, which aims to be more accurate and reactive.

 

Institutions

Berger-Levrault is a multi-sector international publisher and provide software solutions for the private and public professionals and for their end users. It develops a wide range of solutions for local administrations, healthcare facilities, education and service continuity management for industry. With more than 50000 customers all over the world and 1700 employees, Berger-Levrault is committed to research and innovation to stay ahead of and take ownership of future uses, working with experts, universities and customers.

The UOC is an innovative university that is rooted in Catalonia and open to the world with 58,383 students around the globe. Its educational model is based on personalization and accompanying students using e-learning. It offers people lifelong learning to help them and society advance, while carrying out research into the knowledge society. The IN3 is the UOC’s research centre specializing in the study of the Internet and the effects of interaction between digital technologies and human activity.