Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smarter call centre automation for public administrations

09.08.2006
Residents of Barcelona, Turin and the Camden district in London will soon be talking to a computer when they call their local council for information or carry out a phone transaction. But instead of receiving scripted responses they will be conversing with a state-of-the-art platform that enables natural dialogue.

Developed by the IST-funded HOPS project, the platform uses a variety of technologies to enable people to talk to a computer over the phone as if they are talking with a human call centre worker.

For public administrations, which are under increasing pressure to improve the quality of the services they provide to citizens while reducing costs, the benefits are significant in terms of efficiency gains and potential cost savings. The advantages, says Joan Batlle, the project coordinator at Barcelona city hall, will also be evident for citizens, who will find they have access to interactive information and services around the clock. Most importantly, the natural language dialogue made possible by the platform should overcome people’s general dislike of talking to automated call centre systems.

“Evidently people don’t like having to sit and listen to a machine, they feel it is a waste of time especially when it may not understand them,” explains the coordinator. “The problem has been that most of the systems used to automate call centres rely on asking the caller to pick from a list of options and then offering a response from a pre-programmed list that may or may not give the user the information they require.”

The HOPS partners, among them the three public administrations of Barcelona, Camden and Turin as well as research institutes and technology providers, have instead of relying on scripted responses, combined four different technologies to create an advanced voice-enabled front-end platform for public administrations.

“The idea is that people can speak naturally and receive a natural response. In that way it is the citizen who is in charge of the conversation not the computer,” Batlle notes. “I want to be able to ring up and say ‘What concerts are on tonight?’ without having to listen to a list of possible options first. I should be understood no matter how I phrase the question.”

The HOPS project has managed to make human-machine dialogue more natural and fluid by merging voice technologies such as Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and Text to Speech (TTS) with natural language processing technologies to understand, interpret and respond to callers. These components are then tied into a data management system incorporating Semantic Web technology for finding and extracting the information sought by users.

“The platform itself is designed to be highly flexible so it can be used in any public administration call centre to provide any service or information. The only thing that really has to be changed depending on where it is deployed is the vocabulary. That could mean different languages or a different lexicon depending on whether it is used to deal with car registrations or cultural events,” Batlle notes.

Preliminary trials carried out in Barcelona, Camden and Turin proved the flexibility and functionality of the system which was able to provide responses in a range of languages to callers asking about two different types of services.

“One scenario was for callers interested in finding out about cultural events, the other was to schedule a service provided by the council for collecting unwanted furniture and other large items,” the coordinator says. “In both cases the call centre workers from the councils made the calls and the system functioned well.”

The project is due to begin testing a second prototype in the autumn ahead of tests with a third and final version of the platform that will also serve to gauge citizens’ reactions.

Batlle says that all three town halls involved in the project are planning to employ the finished version of the platform. In Turin, the city hall is planning to use it to handle calls while retaining human operators as a backup, while in Camden the system will be employed initially to carry out quality of service surveys.

“In Barcelona we will start small, using it to replace the recorded messages we have overnight and at weekends although over the coming years we expect to use it more extensively, as too do the partners in Camden and Turin,” he says.

Jernett Karensen | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New software speeds origami structure designs
12.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Seeing the next dimension of computer chips
11.10.2017 | Osaka University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>