Together with the Dutch Police the Deloitte GovLab developed the chatbot Wout. This project was dubbed as “one of the best projects of my career” by more than one colleague of ours. Let’s dive into the ‘What’ and ‘How’ to explain why this specific project made such an impact on client, society and us, working at Deloitte.
For this story Emma de Zeeuw and Charley Roelofs spoke to Mo Elkouaa and Bob van den Berg. This story was written by Charley Roelofs.
Many organizations, private or public, are struggling with a changing society. Users, clients, patients, employees, or citizens, no matter how you name them, they all want the same. They want the right information at the right time. Phone lines and inboxes are flooded, and we are all just looking for the right solution to deal with these new expectations. The Dutch police realized that people would like to get in touch with the police via different ways than via phone or visiting one of the police offices. Therefore, the police is constantly exploring new ways of servicing their ‘citizens’, while at the same time being challenged by a vast amount of communication issues. Our Customer Strategy & Design team (CS&D) – together with support from multiple other teams across Deloitte - got involved to help them map their problem and find strategic solutions.
The Pilot – a chatbot based on AI to file noise complaints
After multiple work sessions to fully understand the challenges, the idea for a pilot was born. A police chatbot that focuses on noise complaints, launched in the months leading up to New Year’s Eve. It is allowed in the Netherlands to light fireworks from 6pm on December 31st until 2 am on January 1st, but some people neglect these boundaries, and the weeks before the new year are loaded with illegal lighting of fireworks, followed by complaints and police reports from citizens. To unburden the police from the administrative work of taking in all these complaints, the chatbot pilot started. They fittingly named the chatbot Wout, a tongue in cheek reference to the Dutch nickname for the police, and Wout allowed citizens to file a report in a quick and efficient way.
"Wout, a virtual police officer chatbot capable of taking in non-emergency reports, was born out of a need to scale the police's capacity."
It is common knowledge that a chatbot with automation and scalability is a perfect way to have a first line of support in lots of businesses, however, especially at our government, it is important to take every risk into account and to safeguard the citizens’ privacy and trust.
Deloitte mobilized a multidisciplinary team that combined the strategic and design expertise of the CS&D team. Also, colleagues from the Change Management team, to enable a smooth transformation through the organization of the Police, and the Digital Customer team, because of their knowledge of advanced technology solutions, were involved.
Our colleagues were tasked with a wide variety of positions, from implementation of Neurolinguistic Programming, running UX audits, to implementing newer technologies and change management, all the while maintaining a high level of quality. Our colleagues’ motivation was at an all-time high, knowing that even the smallest change will be felt by someone when you are designing for roughly 300.000 people.
“I knew that every little tweak would affect the experience of about 300,000 people. I was determined to do it right.”
How Wout evolved into cybercrime
The MVP chatbot was a success and, after a workshop to envision the future of Wout, another demo version of the chatbot was live. Next to the task of noise complaints, Wout was fittingly tasked with taking in reports of cybercrime (e.g. Phishing, Ransomware etc.). The chatbot got more sophisticated and did not just take in reports but provided solutions. For example, if there was a solution to that specific ransomware problem, Wout would refer to a partner of the police and show them a webpage with the solution of how to decrypt their files.
Results were promising, citizens were helped with their noise complaints and cybercrime reports. An independent research bureau found that 86% of people who reported noise complaints through Wout would use Wout again, and for cybercrime this was even 90%. As any project involving newer technologies and AI, there are the planned benefits, and then you have the surprise benefits. Wout not only helped citizens, but he also helped the police in achieving their digitization and cooperation goals in multiple ways. One of them was the quality of the data output coming from Wout which resulted in a better overview of what was happening where in society and to better fight crime.
From these facts we can conclude that the use of a chatbot has a lot of potential to really help society get better service. Whether that is from the police dealing with flooded phone lines or another government organization dealing with communicating to a wider audience.
The project team showed that the police can innovate rapidly with the right people involved. As a result, the police was even prompted to look at digital innovation more broadly, also with public-private partnerships between government entities and other companies.
Are you interested in learning more about chatbot Wout? Our very own podcast ‘The Ramp’ made and episode about it! Check it out here.
Deloitte Govlab is Deloitte’s public sector innovation offering. GovLab brings together a wide range of capabilities, tools, and people to help public sector organisations create new sources of growth and prosperity. Curious? Click here to learn more.