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Kansas integrates chatbot with Facebook Messenger, a state government first

Her name is "Agent Kay."

Colin Wood
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Colin Wood Managing Editor

Colin Wood is the managing editor of StateScoop. Before that, he was a staff writer for Government Technology magazine. Before that, he taught Engl...

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Chatbots, an emerging technology that promises to save government more time than perhaps any other, just reached a new milestone in Kansas. State officials announced Friday that a new chatbot, nicknamed "Agent Kay" has been integrated with Facebook Messenger, the first such implementation by state government, according to its contractor, the digital government firm NIC.

Agent Kay, which launched earlier this month as a machine learning technology designed to guide visitors through the Kansas.gov Help Center, can respond conversationally to more than 200 questions, according to the state. And now, users of Facebook's Messenger app and Facebook users who follow the "Kansas.gov - Kansas Government Online" Facebook account can chat with the digital employee for fast answers or to be transferred to a live agent if the request reaches beyond the chatbot's knowledge.

“As the most popular social media platform in the world, integrating with Facebook and Facebook Messenger dramatically broadens our ability to assist the citizens of Kansas," Nolan Jones, general manager of NIC's Kansas division said in a press release.

Kansas' new chatbot joins several others launched by state and local government in recent months as the technology catches the interest of technology officials looking for efficient ways to offset workforce and budget shortages.

Mississippi, Montana, and Illinois are among a small but growing group of states investing in the technology. Atlanta was testing a chatbot last year to supplement its non-emergency service request service. San Francisco is using the technology to streamline its internal procurement process.

Chatbots are one technology included in a category of government upgrades the National Association of State Chief Information Officers calls "digital government," which it ranks in 2018 as the fourth most important priority for state government IT leaders, behind IT consolidation and optimization, cloud services, and security and risk management.

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States, Kansas, chatbots

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