Virtual assistant

Elections Markham and IBM Canada launch virtual assistant

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The Town of Markham is working with IBM Canada to launch the Markham Elections Virtual Assistant, powered by IBM Watson Wizardjust in time for the Markham Municipal Election in 2022. The AI ​​virtual assistant is designed to simplify the voting process, making it easier for voters to get information about the upcoming municipal election.

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The virtual assistant offers round-the-clock assistance to voters seeking credible and timely election information, and has the ability to answer questions anytime, anywhere. For example, if voters are wondering how to vote online, need help registering to vote, or want to learn more about candidates, the virtual assistant can help.

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Virtual assistant Elections Markham is more than just a chatbot, says Frank Attaie, CEO of IBM Canada Technology. It is a conversational AI platform.

“A conversational AI platform…is the insertion of artificial intelligence and what we call natural language processing to have an effective conversation and understand the tone…In the case of the town of Markham, if you go on the website, and you want to have a conversation and get the information you need, that’s really what the Watson virtual assistant can do,” he said.

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Attaie said that for people who aren’t tech-savvy and just need a few answers, this tool can be a better and faster alternative to a call center.

“That’s the experience we provide through the virtual assistant. You don’t have to have an advanced doctorate in technology to interact with technology,” he said.

Martha Pettit, assistant clerk for the town of Markham, said the virtual assistant also accommodates those with working hours outside of the typical nine-to-five, making it more accessible.

“If someone is checking Elections Markham at three in the morning because they have just come off their night shift, or they are a new mum and their baby is awake, we are able to capture them for that ‘it doesn’t need to be necessary during office hours, we are able to respond, adapt and answer some generic questions,’ Pettit said.

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IBM and the city of Markham have had a relationship since 1981, said Sumon Acharjee, chief information officer at the city of Markham.

“Through this public-private partnership, we have worked with Watson and other IBM technologies. We leveraged Watson technology for various use cases here in the city, and expanded that use case to include Elections Markham,” said Acharjee. “Markham was an early pioneer in online voting. And I understand that we are one of the oldest online voting programs in the world and one of the early pioneers here in North America.

The virtual assistant is also able to track requested data as people use it. This means that if a question is asked more than once, Elections Markham’s communications team is able to come together and provide more context for that specific question via social media and advertising.

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Using technology in voting is still a relatively new concept in many cities, but Pettit thinks it’s the way of the future.

“I think in this day and age where people buy their car online and some people find their spouse online…it’s here to stay. I think it’s an accepted and different alternative form of coming to nobody. And I think the pandemic might influence more voters to do it this way. It’s a safe, convenient and completely accessible way. Those who hadn’t ordered groceries online before have started to do so and those who had not done online banking have started to do so,” she said.

The post office Elections Markham and IBM Canada launch virtual assistant first appeared on Computer World Canada.

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