Citibot logoHave you ever been to another country where there was no signage or directions in your native language? Imagine you’re a native English speaker with limited knowledge of Japanese, living in Kagoshima, Japan, and you need to report missed trash pickup or get a permit. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could visit the appropriate website and communicate in English? Citibot is working to make that possible. 

The United States is a melting pot of different ethnicities, languages and cultures. As the number of people speaking Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, and many other languages increases, it’s important for municipalities and agencies to be inclusive. Language barriers have historically impeded communication between local governments and their constituents. Over the past decade, the demand for City-employed translators has grown significantly. 

Citibot offers AI-powered chat solutions available 24/7 to help cities serve their residents, now with the ability to understand inquiries in different languages to serve a wider range of communities. Citibot empowers residents and automates tasks so that City employees can spend more time doing valuable work.

Citibot’s new language translation tool can be embedded directly into the existing chatbot platform that was introduced in 2016. Through the implementation of Amazon Translate, the chatbot can automatically recognize and respond immediately in 71 different languages. The chatbot aims to bridge the language divide and transcend socioeconomic barriers, fostering trust and engagement with all residents.

“One of the distinctive features of our multilingual bot is that residents don’t need to select a language; they can begin communicating in their preferred language right away. It’s an additional layer of respect, allowing residents to initiate communication in the language they feel most comfortable with,” Bratton Riley explained in an interview.

The technology is not only a one-way translation. If a resident submits a service request in Vietnamese, the request would be translated back into English when entering the City’s workflow system. Residents and City staff can provide feedback on translations, which allows for continuous improvement of the technology.

The multilingual functionality is active in Stockton, CA; Arlington, TX; Fairfield, CA; New Orleans, LA; and many others. The City of Stockton was the first to launch the new functionality. Stockton is widely known as the most diverse City in America, with large groups of people from Mexico, China, and the Philippines. Therefore, it is crucial that chat communications be easily accessible in multiple languages.

Citibot ensures multichannel accessibility for residents by allowing them to interact via the City’s website and through text messaging, so that communication is easy and convenient. To further minimize barriers and meet residents on their preferred channels, we intend to launch on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Positive experiences are the best way for municipalities and agencies to improve engagement, according to research. Cities like Stockton can foster meaningful interactions with their diverse communities by providing access to multilingual communication.

Other communities across the United States, such as the cities of Denver and Baltimore, are implementing the technology to create positive digital experiences with their residents. 

Citibot is a mission driven company dedicated to serving all residents regardless of their income; ethnicity and language. Every resident deserves access to high quality engagement and customer service with their local government.