Placer County was recently awarded third place in the 17th annual Digital Counties Survey, where the top counties across the country were recognized for their commitment to leveraging technology in innovative ways. Part of this recognition included becoming the first local government in California to deploy an AI chatbot to better serve its community.

In order to provide better service to its growing population, the county wanted to go beyond the traditional self-service IVR systems and hiring additional administrative staff and instead look to transform its customer experiences with a digital-focused engagement strategy. It recognized the need to offer real-time, on-demand access to information through platforms that could operate around the clock, at scale, and provide efficient interactions with its residents when and where it is convenient for them.

Through its Community Development Resource Agency, Placer County launched a multi-faceted initiative they called “eServices,” with an objective to offer customers access to information and services that would typically require an in-person visit to its offices.

Placer County worked with the Dito and Google Cloud teams to develop an AI solution that would enable its community to engage in a more interactive, modern, and conversational manner.

The “Ask Placer County” (the phrase used to initiate a session) chatbot, accessible through both web and voice interfaces, was developed through a combination of Dito’s configurable chatbot framework and Google Cloud Platform technologies including Dialogflow, App Engine, Cloud Datastore, Google Assistant, and Actions on Google.

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