Virtual assistant

TSA teaches virtual assistant @AskTSA to speak Spanish


The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has taught its social media-based virtual assistant @AskTSA to converse in Spanish. The popular chatbot can now answer questions about travel rules and regulations in Spanish and English, catering to the need exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic for more than one million questions in a record-breaking last fiscal year.

@AskTSA Spanish

The TSA’s chatbot software is designed to spot and answer routine questions about airports and their security rules. The chatbot offers immediate answers to questions about what people are allowed to bring on flights, any ID needed, and what to do in the event of lost luggage or tickets. The two-year-old virtual assistant is integrated with both Twitter and Facebook around the clock, but will refer questioners to human agents during work hours if the question exceeds its knowledge base. The chatbot only communicated in English until now, which meant that questions from those who didn’t speak English all had to be directed to the live agents. TSA boosts AI with Spanish to take more slack.

“A Spanish version of our virtual social media assistant @AskTSA represents the agency’s first fully integrated foreign language service on our social media platforms,” ​​TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “TSA remains committed to improving how we interact with passengers in a way that prepares them for the most efficient checkpoint experience possible.”

Government AI Agents

The TSA isn’t the only government group choosing to invest in chatbots and AI-powered communications. The same is true for voice apps such as the West Virginia Office of the Secretary of State’s Alexa skill for government information and the state of Iowa’s voice apps for Alexa and Google Assistant. The Alexa Skill from Mesa, Arizona can even make it easier to pay utility bills. The pandemic has pushed things in that direction, with IBM offering its Watson AI last year to state election officials to answer questions. Several national governments have turned to chatbots during the pandemic, including the UK and India. The Indian government has even started working on a nationwide voice assistant and chatbot to handle more government services in the future.

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