Chatbots - the Friend and Helper in Police Service

insights · Veröffentlicht am 28.10.2021

The promotion of digitization has been high on the agenda of Swiss authorities for quite some time and is on the rise throughout Europe.

In this article, I have specifically looked at areas of application and digitization projects in the area of justice and security, and especially in the police, that are running successfully or are in the planning stage in Germany and Switzerland. I show you how diverse the possible areas of application of chatbots are and how well suited digital helpers are for police use in the service of citizens.

Chatbots - the digital helpers

The days when citizens would come to the police station with all their reports and questions and deposit them in person with the officers at the counter are over. Nowadays, it is possible to handle many of these concerns digitally and online in a self-service process. The corresponding forms are available on the cantonal websites and the necessary information is also stored there.

However, it's not always easy to fill out these forms or find the information you're looking for quickly, and some people reach for the phone for additional help. In such cases, a chatbot can provide very efficient support.

A chatbot is a text-based dialog system that can interact with users in a chat window and communicate with them in natural language. Chatbots are defined and set up for very specific use cases, and can provide advice and help on the relevant topics. There are chatbots that work with the support of artificial intelligence and those that work on the basis of predefined rules and question and answer systems.

There are chatbots that work with the support of artificial intelligence and those that work on the basis of predefined rules and question and answer systems.

Having a digital helper and online staff member on your team offers numerous advantages:

  • The chatbot welcomes website visitors as they arrive and can ask what they are looking for and direct them to the desired area.
  • The bot helps them locate the information they are looking for quickly and efficiently or provides assistance in finding the right forms and also in filling them out.
  • The chatbot is ideally suited for answering frequent standard questions and thus massively relieves the employees.
  • The chatbot can guide users through complete processes to completion (e.g., fill out and submit forms correctly).
  • The chatbot is always in a good mood and treats each user equally friendly and in a neutral way.
  • And it is available at any time - around the clock.

All these advantages can generate great added value in police work, both for customers and for employees. I will share with you a few examples where chatbots are already supporting the work of the police very successfully.

Chatbots in the service of the police

The Department of Justice and Security (JSD) of the Canton of Basel-Stadt launched its chatbot project some time ago as part of the general digitization of processes and has since steadily expanded the range of digital helpers with additional use cases based on positive experience. Those responsible still see potential for further areas of application.

Chatbots are currently in use for the canton of Basel-Stadt at the civil registry office (e.g., obtaining register excerpts, documents and access to forms), at the migration office (support and answering questions in connection with the C permit) and now also at the cantonal police (support with various concerns, reference to corresponding forms: Ex: administrative fines, parking permits, vehicle registration card address changes, applications for events, etc.).

IIn all three areas, the chatbot independently handles frequently recurring queries, thus greatly reducing the workload for employees and saving time for everyone involved.

In all three areas, the chatbot independently handles frequently recurring queries, thus greatly reducing the workload for employees and saving time for everyone involved.

The Zurich Cantonal Police is also digitizing and would like to make its entire internal communication paperless in the long term (see the short film by the Cantonal Police). It is foreseeable that the Zurich Cantonal Police will also digitally implement communication with citizens in the near future using chatbots, especially for simple frequent concerns and processes that can be standardized.

The German Federal Police is also already digitally on the move. In March 2020, a first chatbot was introduced that provides information around the clock via the messenger app «Telegram» and additionally offers the possibility to subscribe to current news. The chatbot is regularly «fed» with FAQs on current topics and frequent questions that the police are increasingly confronted with, and can thus answer a large part of the incoming frequent standard inquiries. 

The main advantages of using chatbots in the police force 

In general, the digitization of customer communications offers a great increase in efficiency in obtaining information and answers to standard concerns. Citizens can handle many of their concerns independently in a self-service process and around the clock and do not spend unnecessary time formulating emails or letters in writing and are no longer stuck in telephone waiting loops. Much of what used to have to be done on site at the counter can now be done conveniently online from home. This saves a lot of time on both sides, since many inquiries do not require the involvement of a police employee.

Police websites naturally contain a great deal of information on various topics, often linked to corresponding forms. It is therefore not surprising if website visitors have difficulty finding what they are looking for. This is where a chatbot can provide optimal assistance. It receives the users directly on the start page and guides them quickly and efficiently through a question-answer system via link to the searched area or form. In this way, the bot handles the majority of standard requests completely automatically and independently.

Police websites naturally contain a great deal of information on various topics, often linked to corresponding forms. It is therefore not surprising if website visitors have difficulty finding what they are looking for. This is where a chatbot can provide optimal assistance.

He can also go a step further and specifically help with filling out forms, if that is desired. After all, some of these forms are not easy to fill out and require a lot of information to be entered. This also prevents incorrectly completed or incomplete forms from being received and missing information having to be requested in an additional step before processing.

Many non-native-speaking residents looking for information also struggle with sometimes complicated wording and terms. A chatbot can counteract these comprehension problems. When formulating the chat texts, care can be taken to use simple and easy-to-understand wording. It would also be possible to offer the chatbot in different languages.

Especially in the field of police work, many other use cases are possible:

  • Placing criminal charges (theft, loss)
  • Submission of applications
  • Ordering parking tickets
  • Payment of fines, etc.

Many things are conceivable and some of them are already being used in this way.

The chatbot completes the digital offer

In the course of digitization, as many processes and procedures as possible should also be digitized at government agencies and made largely paperless. Here it is essential to also simplify communication with citizens wherever possible and offer digital options. Chatbots are the ideal way to deal with frequent standard concerns in an automated manner. Tried and tested many times and successful in all sectors, they are also a great asset for all police bodies. The digital helpers complete the process of digitization and make it directly tangible for citizens. A positive customer experience as a calling card to the outside world is also something police institutions should strive for and promotes their image.

The first steps in implementing a chatbot on your own website consist of analyzing which questions have been received most frequently to date by e-mail or telephone or other means and how they can be answered in a standardized manner. The more questions and concerns that can be listed and categorized here, the greater the potential for a chatbot to quickly create great added value.

In addition, it can be determined which processes can be easily automated (e.g., reporting bicycle thefts, loss reports, ordering parking tickets, etc.) and how these processes can be beneficially supported and accompanied by the chatbot.

In this way, it can be quickly determined whether and for which areas the use of one or more chatbots is worthwhile and what added value can be achieved with them in the short and long term.

We are experts in the use of chatbots and artificial intelligence and have already successfully implemented various projects for public authorities. Contact us and benefit from our experience. We are happy to support you!

Dennis is an expert in Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence and is passionate about these because in customer communication they help to significantly improve both efficiency and customer experience.

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