USCIS’ virtual assistant emerges as leading example in government AI

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Mariela Melero, Chief of the Office of Citizenship & Applicant Information Services at United States Citizen and Immigration Services, details the AI successes at the agency and the digital tools they use to improve customer experience.


As the government looks to move more employees to “high-value work,” agencies are looking to Artificial Intelligence to pick up some of the more “low-value” tasks they perform. Emma is a customer service bot at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and is one of the biggest success stories for AI in government. Emma provides quick answers to written queries on the USCIS website. Mariela Melero, Chief, Office of Citizenship & Applicant Information Services at USCIS, says that they’re always looking to improve the way Emma answers questions.

 

“I don’t think anyone can get an avatar to really get it right 100 percent of the time, but we want Emma to get to that 97 percent… We look at the 9 percent of what we call the ‘I don’t know rate’ and we are literally entering the information and making sure she has that information, but the problem is that it is all manual,” Melero said. “Now we’re looking at technology that allows Emma to build her own knowledge base. We’re not building it for her anymore, we’re helping.”