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City of Knoxville deploys a web and SMS chatbot

The city of Knoxville, Tenn., for numerous years preserved a site, a connect with middle and social media webpages to hold its close to a hundred ninety,000 residents informed about the city’s social companies and changes to city insurance policies.

However, with the 2020 U.S. census, additionally the novel coronavirus sweeping through the state, the city desired a further software to get up-to-day information promptly to its residents. So, the city designed and deployed a website and SMS chatbot.

The chatbot, designed with application and textual content messaging engineering from shopper engagement seller Quiq, can remedy primary thoughts about the coronavirus. That contains information on what COVID-19, the illness triggered by the coronavirus, is how it spreads endeavours residents can choose to remain secure and endeavours the city is using to assist sluggish the unfold of COVID-19. Consumers can interact with it on the city of Knoxville’s site, or through textual content messages.

The chatbot also provides information on the 2020 U.S. census, as well as the city’s social companies, reported Russ Jensen, director of 311 and 211 for the city of Knoxville. Residents can connect with equally 311 and 211 for information about regional govt companies.

The city of Knoxville, Tenn., deployed a chatbot from seller Quiq to give residents information about the coronavirus.

Setting up

It took about two weeks for Quiq to construct a website and SMS bot, Jensen reported. At first, the bot was meant to just deal with thoughts on the 2020 census, but the rapidly unfold of COVID-19 prompted the city to increase information about the coronavirus.

If the website and SMS chatbot only experienced to present information on the census, it would have taken a day or two to construct. The everchanging circumstance with the coronavirus, however, included about two weeks to the construct.

Jensen also ran into a challenge with integrating the Quiq chatbot system with the city’s site, a challenge that he conceded was the city’s, not the vendor’s. While he declined to elaborate on the glitch, he mentioned that the challenge was fastened when the city’s webmaster designed a dedicated web site for the website chatbot on the city’s web site.

Aside from those troubles, the bot was effortless to established up, Jensen reported. A 7 days or so right after it was up and jogging, he and his group included new information to the website and SMS chatbot about the city’s social companies. Jensen reported he was equipped to quickly do that himself.

“If I can established some of this things up practically any one can do it,” he reported with a chortle.

If we experienced to, we could go entire-on chat ability.
Russ JensenDirector of 311 and 211, city of Knoxville

For Jensen, the website and SMS chatbot offers some assurance that the city connect with middle can remain open even with staff members unable to get the job done in the central business. Now, staff members are nonetheless functioning from the business. Stepped-up endeavours to limit the unfold of the coronavirus, however, could shut down the business and restrict employees’ capability to deal with calls.

“If we experienced to, we could go entire-on chat ability,” Jensen reported.

Comprehensive automation would not be best, because senior citizens might have trouble utilizing the bots, and some persons, especially those who are panicked, would relatively speak to a human over the cellphone. Nevertheless, the chatbot system is “a basic safety internet,” Jensen reported.

Even when the pandemic has subsided, Jensen reported Knoxville will proceed utilizing the Quiq chatbots.

The bot system, he reported, has “turned out to be even extra helpful than we almost certainly thought it would be.” The city will hold utilizing it to present residents with information on social companies and will update it with new information as new circumstances come up.

Jensen also ideas to combine the chatbots with Fb Messenger.

The bot has been made use of over five hundred situations so considerably with no issues, Jensen reported. Consumers can answer to the SMS bot at their advantage, texting it when they are equipped to.


The coronavirus has sparked a new wave of AI and RPA adoption among the enterprises, as the virus has pressured corporations to agreement, direct their staff members to get the job done remotely or lay off personnel.

According to Quiq CEO Mike Myer, the pandemic has brought in a wave of new organization to Quiq, as well as requests from current clients for expanded units.

“We’re on fireplace,” Myer reported. “We have almost certainly viewed extra exercise in the very last 3 weeks than we have viewed in the very last 3 months.”

The pandemic will very likely change the globe in the lengthy phrase, he reported. It will transfer extra corporations absent from connect with centers and into chatbots and conversational AIs.

“I feel there will be a minor bit of a reversion back again to exactly where items had been” at the time the pandemic has passed, Myer reported. But, he included, that will not likely negate the remarkable inroads into enterprises, whether public or non-public, that chatbots will have created in the course of this time.