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Technology leaders say they're hopeful that this type of collaboration can be replicated in other state governments.
The upgrades, completed in June, are intended to enable residents to easily access more information.
Ryan Johnston is an editorial intern for Scoop News Group. Johnston contributes content to all SNG publications....
A chatbot, an interactive virtual reality feature and an updated digital voice assistant are just some of the new features of Mississippi's ms.gov website.
The site, updated in June, will now provide visitors with the kind of modern, connected technology that has become customary in the private sector.
“Citizens’ expectations of digital platforms continue to evolve,” said Craig Orgeron, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services, in a press release. “Mississippi has responded to those growing needs by thinking outside the browser and bringing successful private sector technologies to government. Technologies like machine learning and virtual reality.”
Chief among the upgrades is the state’s debut of a chatbot dubbed “Missi” that is capable of assisting site visitors with more than 100 questions, on everything from hunting licenses to taxes. The presence of Missi puts the state among the leaders in using the burgeoning technology. Next-door neighbor Arkansas has a chatbot in beta, and North Carolina is experimenting with internal chatbots in its IT department to handle excess workloads. Cities in Arizona and Georgia have also tested similar technology via SMS.
Other upgrades include an interactive virtual reality tour of the state capitol available to curious residents and tourists alike. Mississippi residents will also be able to use their Amazon Alexa Digital Voice assistant to ask for Mississippi traffic alerts and news.
Myriad other features have also been personalized and upgraded, giving residents the chance to customize and receive weather alerts, set various license-renewal reminders and create an individualized link vault that enables drag-and-drop storage of important links.
The upgrades come at no extra cost to Mississippi taxpayers. Mississippi Interactive, the state’s digital government partner, has a self-funded business model that relies on receiving small transaction fees each time a government service is accessed.