Pushed by Pandemic, CivicPlus Adds Chatbots to Website Tools

The company has integrated an AI-powered chatbot from a third-party company in order to meet demand from its government customers, who have found themselves facing more questions from constituents during the pandemic.

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CivicPlus, one of the most prolific website builders for local government in the U.S., has integrated a third-party chatbot into its content management system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chatbots have popped up on state and local government websites across the country during the pandemic as public servants have found themselves overwhelmed with questions and requests from the people they serve. Surveys of states, counties and cities that the Center for Digital Government* conducted in 2020 found that a majority of jurisdictions in each category either use chatbots or plan to use them soon.

Now, CivicPlus is integrating the chatbot from the Boston-based company Frase into the CivicEngage website platform.

“(Chatbots are) helping citizens get answers 24/7 on how to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination, where to get a pet license and how to pay their water bill instead of calling their local offices during business hours,” said Ben Berkowitz, CivicPlus’ VP of product strategy, in a statement.

CivicPlus is a common name found on local government websites in the U.S.; the company has more than 4,000 customers across the country according to the statement. Aside from websites, it also offers software to the public sector for parks and recreation, mass notifications, agenda management and other functions.

*The Center for Digital Government is part of e.Republic, Government Technology's parent company.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.
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