Artificial intelligence has come to the support of businesses and the more than 125,000 residents of Rustavi in Georgia, by keeping them informed about city services, new regulations, and steps to take to cope with coronavirus challenges without leaving their homes, as part of an initiative developed with the support of the European Union.
C Bot is a Rustavi City Hall ChatBot, developed by the Rustavi Innovations Hub and Rustavi Municipality with the support of UNDP Georgia as part of the Mayors for Economic Growth initiative implemented under the EU4Business umbrella.
This innovative tool, unique in Georgia’s public sector, handles more than 1,000 questions on coronavirus statistics and recommendations, as well as questions about municipal services such as public information, social programmes, architectural services, and more.
“C Bot simplifies the dialogue between the city and those starting a business and going through various procedures, including registration and construction permits,” explains Revaz Barbakadze, chairman of the Rustavi Innovations Hub.
Rustavi, joined the Mayors for Economic Growth initiative in 2017. Helping the city become an active facilitator of economic growth and job creation at the local level, the initiative encouraged public servants to put together a local economic development plan. In the same period, Rustavi City Hall partnered with UNDP Georgia to foster innovation at the local governance level.
“Regular mentoring, expert involvement, knowledge exchange sessions, and events within M4EG were an invaluable experience for our team to identify gaps for advancement, including a more business-friendly environment in the city,” says Revaz Barbakadze, local economic development officer at City Hall.
When discussing flexible and resident-oriented advancements about a year ago, the team agreed that individuals and businesses undoubtedly spent extra time and resources visiting City Hall for assistance that could be provided at a distance. The idea of an AI-based system providing guidance to municipal services online was kicked off in November 2019, with support from UNDP.
C Bot was about to launch in March when the pandemic hit. It was immediately updated with COVID-related information, including services for individuals to get assistance and recommendations for businesses to continue normal operations, and eventually launched in April.
A business accelerator project promoting locally-inspired solutions is also on its way. With the support from UNDP, a co-working space with trainers, mentors and equipment should stimulate the development of business ideas. With the involvement of local and international business organisations, the Youth Entrepreneurship Ecosystem will enable young people to turn an idea into an actual business and even get funding.
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Mayors for Economic Growth – Rustavi