Editorial

Derby City Council seeks solutions to challenges with generative AI

ICS.AI awarded £7 million generative AI transformation project with Derby City Council.

Posted 27 February 2024 by Christine Horton


Derby City Council is looking to “transform” customer service operations with generative artificial intelligence (AI).

It has awarded ICS.AI a new four-year, £7 million AI project to expand its AI capabilities. The Council said it has already identified 54 different use cases.

Over the next four months, phase 1 will look at Adult Social Care, Customer Services and Debt Recovery, with plans in place to roll out phases 2 and 3 across other services once it is running successfully, and then widening the adoption of AI technology further across the Council.

Teams working in Adult Social Care will use the emerging technology to review care packages and help them decide if someone who needs support living at home is receiving the right level of care.

Across Customer Services, the capabilities of Darcie (pictured) and Ali will be extended to become generative AI copilots, further streamlining the Council’s customer service, and allowing for more complex and nuanced interactions with residents.

Introducing AI solutions to support the recovery of outstanding debt will allow the Council to gather and analyse information from across all its systems in a more timely manner than staff can currently do. With this AI assistance, the Council will be able to identify where it needs to offer support to minimise debt and maximise income collection.

AI addressing Council’s financial challenges

Derby City Council was the UK’s first Council to adopt phone-based AI, replacing traditional interactive voice response systems. This first phase, led by digital assistants Darcie and Ali, both developed by ICS.AI, was launched in 2023. To date it has managed more than half a million telephone and web queries, resolving 43 percent of enquiries without input from staff, freeing up their time to focus on more complex queries. This is double the initial target.

The organisation said expanding its AI capabilities “has significant implications” for the Council’s operational efficiencies and financial savings, estimated at £12.25 million annually, contributing to the Council’s Medium-Term Financial Plan.

“The continued financial challenges in the local government sector mean we must consider how we can operate most efficiently, while continuing to deliver the best service possible,” said Baggy Shanker, leader of Derby City Council. “Derby City Council is a trailblazer in using AI, and we will always make sure the needs of all our citizens are at the heart of this project. New advances bring risks, which we will manage, but also some incredible opportunities to deliver the best outcomes for our citizens in a more efficient and cost-effective way.”

 “This journey with Derby City Council is just the beginning and marks a significant step by that local authority towards the future of more efficient and effective public services, but also underscoring its commitment to the wellbeing of its residents. We are excited to see how these new AI copilots will redefine service delivery and set new standards in public service innovation,” said Martin Neale, CEO of ICS.AI.

ICS.AI also works with several other local authorities, including Telford & Wrekin Council, maintaining the ethical application of AI tools across the public sector.