Estonia Will Launch Bürokratt Voice Assistant for Government Services in 2022
Estonia announced that it will launch the virtual assistant for public services it has had under development for a couple of years in 2022. The Bürokratt AI will assist Estonians in accessing benefits and completing tasks through voice conversations, a first for a national government.
Bürokratt is built on the idea of leveraging voice AI to accomplish tasks for citizens instead of requiring a phone call or an in-person visit to a government agency. Built by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the AI underwent beta testing this year to see if it could provide voice-based access to government services like completing tax forms, renewing a passport, and accessing family benefits. There are other features already in the works, such as helping apply for a bank loan, and proactively reminding users when they need to complete bureaucratic tasks. Bürokratt will also share its services and information based on who it interacts with, offering personalized suggestions and help instead of more general information. That means citizens will be able to approve payments, application submissions, and personal data updates through the voice assistant.
“Under Bürokratt, citizens won’t have to know or spend time searching for information on separate government websites to find a particular service. Rather, people will have services offered to them and delivered in an integrated manner, around their needs,” Estonian chief Data Officer Ott Velsberg said. “In the same way, 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. 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’re a reality for the Estonian people.”
There’s a growing governmental interest in voice assistants around the world. That includes those built by governments or in partnerships with voice app developers like Voicify. India is working on one after choosing conversational AI startup Senseforth to build it, while Russia’s Sberbank and its Salute voice assistant are now integrated into Russia’s public services portal to provide marriage licenses, passport applications, and other government services. Estonia being ahead of the curve isn’t surprising as virtual assistants and AI are a natural extension of its existing enthusiasm for digital technology. The nationwide public service voice assistant was originally going to be in a network called #KrattAI, named after the mythical Kratt, a creature of hay or tools that comes to life through magic or a deal with a demon to perform chores for its master. Calling the voice assistant simply Beauraucrat in Estonian simplifies things in some ways.
“As the number one digital society in the world, the Estonian government recognises the power and need for digitalisation, particularly with respect to how public services operate from the user perspective,” Estonian CIO Siim Sikkut said: 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, that is – voice.”