Editorial

Estonia launches world’s first virtual AI-assistant for public services

From 2022 Estonia’s citizens will be able to access digital public services using their voice via the world’s first public service AI-based virtual assistant, Bürokratt

Posted 8 December 2021 by Christine Horton


Estonia’s citizens will be able to access and use digital public services using their voice with the launch of Bürokratt, the world’s first public service AI-based virtual assistant.

Bürokratt will be an interoperable network of AI applications, which enable citizens to use public services with virtual assistants through voice-based interaction.

Bürokratt will go live in 2022 following on from its successful beta testing in 2021, announced the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications yesterday.

The Estonian government says Bürokratt will enable its citizens to access all public services such as apply for family benefits, file taxes, renew a passport and in the future even apply for a bank loan without the need to remember.

“Under Bürokratt, citizens won’t have to know or spend time searching for information on separate government websites to find a particular service,” said Ott Velsberg, chief data officer of Estonia.

“Rather, people will have services offered to them and delivered in an integrated manner, around their needs. 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.”

Bürokratt will remind citizens ahead of time when upcoming actions are required and services and information will be personalised based on the user’s data, not simply a repetition of public information based on user questions, as most virtual assistants currently operate.

The solution has been designed to eradicate bureaucratic processes and make public services radically easier to use as well as more convenient and accessible. Users can authorise and consent to certain deeds and actions, such as the submission of applications, making of payments or contracts or change of data in registries through a voice-based interaction with an AI-based virtual assistant on any common device, such as a mobile phone. 

Seamless user experience

The service will give citizens the opportunity to share data on the basis of consent for the development and provision of services outside the country, says the government in a statement. By giving consent, data can be shared more easily, enabling companies to implement new services as well as improve existing ones. For example, it would be easier to apply for a loan from a bank, as a person does not have to enter the data in the form himself, but everything is required from the state registers. This will help private and public services to be inoperable providing the most seamless user experience for Estonia’s citizens. 
 

“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,” said Siim Sikkut, CIO of the Estonian government.

“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.”