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An artificial intelligence (AI)-based digital assistant will support Estonian citizens when they use government services from next year after a successful beta test of the software.
Known as Bürokratt and set to go live next year, the digital assistant is a combination of interoperable AI networks, which will even contact people directly when they need to complete a government service.
Like Siri and Alexa, Bürokratt will communicate with users using voice, removing bureaucracy and making government services easier to use.
Through voice commands on commonly used devices such as smartphones, citizens will be able to carry out tasks such as submitting applications, make payments and data in registries. Traditionally, people would have to find information from various government websites to enable them to complete a task, but because the service is personalised, Bürokratt knows each citizen and can automatically do what they need to do.
The assistant will even contact citizens to remind them if they need to complete a task such as renew a driving licence, register a birth or file their tax return.
“Under Bürokratt, citizens won’t have to know or spend time searching for information on separate government websites to find a particular service,” said Ott Velsberg, Estonia’s chief data officer. “Rather, people will have services offered to them and delivered in an integrated manner, around their needs. In the same way as Alexa plays you a song and Siri assists you with your phone calls, Bürokratt will enable citizens to access their own personal data and get support with government services.”
Velsberg said Bürokratt is an example to governments across the world. “Both the launch and implementation of Bürokratt will be a testament to Estonian technology and will certainly inspire more governments to transform the citizen user experience. AI-based voice-interactive virtual assistants will be the future for other governments around the world, but now they are a reality for the Estonian people.”
Siim Sikkut, CIO of the Estonian government, said: “As the number one digital society in the world, the Estonian government recognises the power and need for digitisation, particularly with respect to how public services operate from the user perspective. AI-based tools like Bürokratt provide citizens with seamless and integrated services that are rightfully tailored to the individual and their life events.
“The user experience will not rely on citizens having the appropriate digital skills to be able to operate interfaces such as apps or websites, but will operate through the most intuitive communication mode, which is voice.”
In the future, the digital assistant will also save Estonian citizens time and effort in applying for services in the private sector. The service will be able to connect to organisations outside government and, if consent is given by the citizen, it will share data to enable them to receive services elsewhere. For example, Bürokratt, with consent, could connect to a bank and automatically fill in an application for a mortgage or loan on behalf of the citizen.
The Estonian government added: “Bürokratt will, in the future, allow a person to get everything they need from one device and through a virtual assistant in one communication session. Bürokratt is thus an interoperable network of public and private sector AI solutions, which, from the user’s point of view, acts as a single channel for public services and information.”
Read more about IT in Estonia
- IT professionals from all over the world are being lured to Estonia through a government recruitment campaign.
- The UK and Estonian governments launch a TechLink programme to share best practice and innovations.
- The Estonian government is working on a project to allow citizens to ask Siri, Alexa or almost any other virtual digital assistant to interact with government departments on their behalf.
- Siim Sikkut is one of a generation of tech-native Estonians who is turning his knowledge and experience to transforming government services.