News Flash

City News

Posted on: September 8, 2020

Portland Offers Enhanced Website Experience with Interactive Chat Feature

portland news

In partnership with its website provider CivicPlus® and technology provider Frase, the City of Portland is launching a 45-day trial of a new chatbot feature for its municipal website. The chatbot will appear on the site on September 9, 2020. In light of COVID-19, citizens have been more reliant on the city’s website than ever before to help facilitate citizen requests for information, documents, and resources. City staff hope that by adding the chatbot feature, citizens will be able to receive a near-immediate response and one-click resolution to their inquiries, thus avoiding phone calls, emails, and other service request channels that are inherently more time-consuming.

The chatbot will appear as an optional pop-up window on the bottom corner of in which users can ask a question, such as, “How do I register my car?” The chatbot will then provide an automated response. By relying on Frase’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology to facilitate smart responses to questions, citizens receive immediate assistance, while municipal staff members can remain focused on processing in-person transactions and other strategic service initiatives.

“We’re very excited to enter into this chatbot trial as we realize government websites can sometimes be hard to navigate because of how much information they have to contain,” said Jessica Grondin, the City’s Director of Communications and Digital Services. “Now more than ever, people are coming to our website for critical information and to complete transactions, and we want them to be able to find answers fast. The chatbot will also allow us to prompt web visitors with key reminders, such as absentee voting information. In a time when our staff resources are stretched thin, we’re hoping this is another way in which we can improve our customer service experience. We hope visitors will find it useful and provide us with critical feedback throughout the trial.” 

The functionality is part of a 45-day pilot program from CivicPlus and Frase. A select group of municipalities that includes Portland will be providing feedback, including citizen utilization data, to help improve and optimize the functionality. At the end of the pilot program, the City will have the option to continue offering the chatbot as a permanent website feature.

“Communicating with residents and providing easy access to vital information and services at any time anywhere is essential to local government,” said Ryan Strait, CivicPlus Product Director of the CivicPlus Platform. “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for smart technology adoption, particularly in the public sector, to help facilitate digital service interactions while citizens remain safely socially distanced. At CivicPlus, we’re seeing interest in chatbots in local government to engage citizens, make services easily accessible, and enable administrative, operational activities to free up time for more critical needs. We are excited to bring our pilot program to Portland and look forward to using its feedback to help us enhance our technology solutions to help ensure that social distancing won’t create detrimental service gaps between government leaders and their citizens.”

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in City News

portland news

City Extends Outdoor Operations

Posted on: January 5, 2021
Friday news round up twitter

Friday News Round Up for December 18, 2020

Posted on: December 18, 2020

Citywide Parking Ban Declared TONIGHT

Posted on: December 17, 2020
Friday news round up twitter

City News Round Up for Friday, November 20

Posted on: November 20, 2020
tree delivery

Tree Delivered to Monument Square

Posted on: November 17, 2020
Friday news round up twitter

City News Round Up for Friday, November 13

Posted on: November 13, 2020
One Climate Change

Council Approves One Climate Future Plan

Posted on: November 13, 2020
ReCode Portland

Council Approves Phase 1 of ReCode

Posted on: November 13, 2020

Tuesday, November 3 is Election Day

Posted on: October 30, 2020
National Drug Take Back Day

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Posted on: October 22, 2020
Friday news round up twitter

City News Round Up for Friday, September 25

Posted on: September 25, 2020
Friday news round up twitter

City News Round Up for Friday, September 18

Posted on: September 18, 2020
Friday news round up twitter

City News Round Up for Friday, September 11

Posted on: September 11, 2020
911 Memorial 1

City to Host 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony

Posted on: September 8, 2020
Friday news round up twitter

City News Round Up for Friday, September 4

Posted on: September 4, 2020
portland news

Portland Farmer's Outdoor Market

Posted on: June 17, 2020
portland news

City Hosts Blood Drive on June 30

Posted on: June 9, 2020
portland news

2019 Maine Hire-A-Vet Campaign

Posted on: February 21, 2020

Absentee Voting Begins in Portland

Posted on: February 6, 2020

Portland Names New Police Chief

Posted on: July 25, 2019