Sunday, February 25, 2024

Pothole in the road? Text the City of Williamsburg and it’ll get fixed

Send a text message to Citibot to report an issue or search the city’s website, and the city will respond or the chatbot will respond with a url-link to answer the question. (Steve Roberts, Jr/WYDaily)
Send a text message to Citibot to report an issue or search the city’s website, and the city will respond or the chatbot will respond with a url-link to answer the question. (Steve Roberts, Jr/WYDaily)

Potholes, bulk trash pick-up, and other issues in the City of Williamsburg can now be addressed with a quick text message to the city’s chatbot.

Williamsburg is the second city in the country to launch a text message based-chatbot, a computer service that a person can interact with through a simple chat interface, according to a City of Williamsburg news release.

“Think of Citibot as a personal assistant, like Siri or Alexa,” Director of Information Technology Mark Barham said. “Simply text ‘hello’ to Citibot and it will ask you whether you want to search the city’s website for information, report an issue or send a message.”

Send a text message to Citibot to report an issue or search the city’s website, and the city will respond or the chatbot will respond with a url-link to answer the question.

“[T]ell Citibot you want to report a pothole and it will take your information and put it on the city’s to-do list; or simply send a message to city staff,” the release states. “When the city fixes the reported issue, Citibot will follow-up to let the citizen know their query has been resolved.”

While the chatbot is still early in its implementation, the city is looking at the future features the chatbot might be able to offer to residents and visitors.

Citibot could integrate with social media messaging apps in future updates, according to the release.

“The implementation of Citibot will help make our city a smarter and more efficient place to do business,” Barham said. “Through utilizing SMS and other existing messaging applications, we’ll be able to easily and efficiently communicate with our citizens. Citibot will provide our city with long lasting solutions to everyday civic challenges.”

Report issues, search for information just by texting “hello” to 757-243-1175.

Citibot is a product of a Charleston, South Carolina-based technology startup, Citibot LLC.

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