What is Porter?
Porter is an SMS-based chatbot designed to address local citizens' needs for information. From inquiries regarding city departments to business hours, to general service requests, Porter works just like a trustworthy assistant to help citizens save time and get things done.
Local governments today are underfunded and overworked. While events like COVID-19 have led to a greater adoption of web services, the sea of information can remain frustratingly difficult to navigate for some demographics. These groups, often among a city’s most engaged citizens, struggle to find answers hiding behind social media wall or buried in unintuitive websites.
"That is our biggest problem. […] There is a gap for people that aren’t using social media. And then within our website, we don’t even have updates from social media. There’s no consistent message across all our platforms that might be checked" - Amy Graybehl, Leisure Services Specialist, City of Porterville
The alternative, going through in-person channels, can eat up government time and resources, creating daisy-chains of communication across departments and exponentially increasing response time.
“The current channel involves the people, constituents, supervisors, directors, staff members and department. There are too many layers in this process!” - Eddie Valero, Tulare County Supervisor
With Porter, you can search through websites and databases for information, allowing you to receive a text-based answer in seconds. Cheaper than 3-1-1, faster than in-person, and with an interface accessible to all citizens and city officials regardless of skill level. No downloads, no sign-ups, no stored personal information, just answers.
How does Porter work?
Porter is a 24/7 highly reliable chatbot that is hosted on AWS cloud, and is currently integrated with various data sources that contain city and local government information.
Zooming in on the system architecture, below are the various services and components of the Porter chatbot. The seamless integration and communication between all these services ensures we offer a closed-loop dialogue flow to end users.
Porter is an SMS-based chatbot designed to address local citizens' needs for information. Designed in collaboration with the City of Porterville, Porter uses cloud computing and NLP to find the best answer for your questions.