The New Orleans Parish Communications District (OPCD) partnered with Citibot to launch an artificial intelligence (AI) powered 311 chatbot – dubbed “Jazz” – to streamline information sharing and improve customer service, the City of New Orleans said on June 15.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, New Orleans 311 (NOLA-311) services, the city’s primary source of local government information and non-emergency services, encountered an unprecedented 350 percent surge in call volume as more residents sought support services and clarifications on the latest rules and health guidance. The local 911 system also encountered a heavy influx of non-emergency calls, compounding the challenge.

NOLA-311 staff worked swiftly to address the sudden surge in call volume and drove efforts to continue providing the expected level of service.

“We quickly realized that we needed to diversify our communications platform and streamline the way we were delivering our services,” said Tyrell Morris, executive director at OPCD

By utilizing Jazz, the city can leverage AI-powered technology to assist residents and ensure their requests are added to the system efficiently and accurately. Jazz is reachable via text and the official city website and is expected to provide 24/7 services to approximately 390,000 New Orleanians.

By texting “Hello” to Jazz at 311YES, users can ask questions, make service requests, search for information and receive an immediate response. They can also choose to use the NOLA-311 webchat setting to access the same information and services, and directly contact NOLA-311 staff.

Utilizing the latest AI-driven chatbot technology, machine learning, and natural language processing, Jazz can handle government and citizen residents day-to-day needs, and specifically respond to COVID-19 questions and needs.

“This new function will allow us to provide accessible communication tools to our residents and better connect them to our reliable NOLA-311 team. This partnership gives us another opportunity to meet our people where they are,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.