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Modesto Entering the World of AI With Its First Chatbot

“We’re really excited about it,” said Chief Information Officer Scott Conn. “This is going to be very slick once we get it tested and turned on.”

Modesto is entering the world of artificial intelligence with its first chatbot, which the city says will make it easier for residents to get answers to their questions and to request services, such as having a downed tree removed or broken streetlight fixed.

The City Council on Tuesday approved a three-year contract with South Carolina-based Citibot not to exceed $116,030. Citibot’s website lists 57 cities — including Stockton, Roseville and Fairfield — as clients.

Scott Conn.
Scott Conn
Modesto expects to go live with its chatbot, as well as redesigns to its website and GoModesto app, between March and June, said Chief Information Officer Scott Conn. (Conn was featured in an Industry Insider — California “One-on-One” interview in July 2022.)

Residents will be able to converse with the chatbot in 71 languages. The conversations will be in messages on the GoModesto app or the city’s website.

Conn said the chatbot will not replace the tabs, links and webpages on the website and GoModesto. And he said that while the redesigned website and GoModesto app will be easier and more intuitive to use, he expects that residents will find the chatbot faster, more efficient and enjoyable. For instance, if a resident tells the chatbot she wants illegal dumping cleaned up in her neighborhood, it will generate the work order for her.

“We’re really excited about it,” he said. “This is going to be very slick once we get it tested and turned on.”

Conn said the city is looking at other artificial intelligence applications for its internal operations.

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