User Centered Development of Automatic E-mail Answering for the Public Sector
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In Sweden, the use of e-mail by the public sector has become a key communication service between citizens and governmental authorities. Although the integration of e-mail in the public sector has certainly brought citizens and handling officers closer, it has also introduced a particular vision on governmental authorities such as for instance the idea that public service and information should be available to citizens any time, anywhere. Such a belief among citizens puts certainly high demands on the quality and efficiency of the e-service governmental authorities are capable to provide. In fact, the growing number of citizens’ electronic requests must be accurately answered in a limited time. In the research project IMAIL (Intelligent e-mail answering service for eGovernment) , we have focused on the work carried out at the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (SSIA) that exemplifies a governmental authority dealing with 500,000 emails per year on top of face-to face meetings, phone calls and chat communication. With the objective of creating an e-mail client capable to ease and ensure the quality of SSIAs’ handling officers public service, we have developed a prototype that: (1) automatically answer a large part of simple questions in the incoming e-mail flow, (2) improve the quality of the semi- automatic answers (i.e. answer templates), and finally, (3) reduce the workload for the handling officers. The development of the prototype is grounded in an empirical study conducted at the SSIA. The study comprises the analysis and clustering of 10,000 citizens e-mails and the working activity of 15 handling officers that were collected through questionnaires, interviews and workshops .
KeywordseGovernment User-Centered Design ICT Email Analysis
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