City of Knoxville deploys a web and SMS chatbot

The city of Knoxville, Tenn., for various decades taken care of a site, a get in touch with heart and social media webpages to continue to keep its near to 190,000 people informed about the city’s social solutions and alterations to city insurance policies.

However, with the 2020 U.S. census, plus the novel coronavirus sweeping as a result of the region, the city wanted one more tool to get up-to-date details promptly to its people. So, the city created and deployed a internet and SMS chatbot.

The chatbot, created with application and text messaging know-how from customer engagement seller Quiq, can answer standard questions about the coronavirus. That contains details on what COVID-19, the ailment brought about by the coronavirus, is how it spreads initiatives people can get to stay safe and initiatives the city is using to support sluggish the distribute of COVID-19. End users can interact with it on the city of Knoxville’s site, or as a result of text messages.

The chatbot also delivers details on the 2020 U.S. census, as very well as the city’s social solutions, reported Russ Jensen, director of 311 and 211 for the city of Knoxville. Citizens can get in touch with both equally 311 and 211 for details about local govt solutions.

SMS chatbot, coronavirus, Knoxville, Quiq
The city of Knoxville, Tenn., deployed a chatbot from seller Quiq to give people details about the coronavirus.

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It took about two weeks for Quiq to create a internet and SMS bot, Jensen reported. Initially, the bot was meant to just handle questions on the 2020 census, but the fast distribute of COVID-19 prompted the city to add details about the coronavirus.

If the internet and SMS chatbot only had to offer details on the census, it would have taken a day or two to create. The everchanging situation with the coronavirus, nevertheless, added about two weeks to the create.

Jensen also ran into a difficulty with integrating the Quiq chatbot platform with the city’s site, a difficulty that he conceded was the city’s, not the vendor’s. Although he declined to elaborate on the glitch, he famous that the difficulty was fixed when the city’s webmaster made a focused web site for the internet chatbot on the city’s site.

Besides all those troubles, the bot was easy to established up, Jensen reported. A week or so following it was up and operating, he and his workforce added new details to the internet and SMS chatbot about the city’s social solutions. Jensen reported he was in a position to quickly do that himself.

“If I can established some of this things up pretty much any individual can do it,” he reported with a laugh.

If we had to, we could go total-on chat capability.
Russ JensenDirector of 311 and 211, city of Knoxville

For Jensen, the internet and SMS chatbot features some assurance that the city get in touch with heart can stay open even with staff not able to work in the central office. At present, staff are nevertheless doing the job from the office. Stepped-up initiatives to limit the distribute of the coronavirus, nevertheless, could shut down the office and limit employees’ capacity to handle phone calls.

“If we had to, we could go total-on chat capability,” Jensen reported.

Whole automation wouldn’t be perfect, simply because senior citizens may have issues using the bots, and some individuals, especially all those who are panicked, would rather communicate to a human above the mobile phone. Still, the chatbot platform is “a security web,” Jensen reported.

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

The bot platform, he reported, has “turned out to be even more beneficial than we most likely thought it would be.” The city will continue to keep using it to offer people with details on social solutions and will update it with new details as new situations crop up.

Jensen also strategies to combine the chatbots with Fb Messenger.

The bot has been used above five hundred moments so considerably with no problems, Jensen reported. End users can react to the SMS bot at their convenience, texting it when they are in a position to.


The coronavirus has sparked a new wave of AI and RPA adoption among enterprises, as the virus has forced firms to contract, immediate their staff to work remotely or lay off personnel.

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

“We are on fireplace,” Myer reported. “We’ve most likely noticed more action in the last 3 weeks than we’ve noticed in the last 3 months.”

The pandemic will probable adjust the earth in the lengthy term, he reported. It will go more firms away from get in touch with facilities and into chatbots and conversational AIs.

“I believe there will be a tiny bit of a reversion again to in which matters were” once the pandemic has handed, Myer reported. But, he added, that will not negate the extraordinary inroads into enterprises, irrespective of whether general public or non-public, that chatbots will have manufactured during this time.