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Federal Agency Participants Develop Virtual Assistant Prototypes Under GSA’s Citizen Tech Initiative

The General Services Administration has hosted a “hackathon” that gathered participants from various federal agencies to build prototypes of artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistants such as voice-activated systems, chatbots, intelligent websites and automated call centers.

Justin Herman, manager of social media and digital engagement programs at GSA’s Technology Transformation Service, wrote in an blog post published Tuesday that the U.S. Federal AI Personal Assistant Pilot is part of GSA’s Emerging Citizen Technology program and is intended to provide self-service access to public service information.

Participants from about 36 federal agencies worked with Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Oracle, Mitre and Dcode42 during the pilot to explore ways to deliver public information in a faster and more efficient manner, Herman added.

The teams developed more than a dozen prototypes including a tornado alert and information service from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; career center resources from the Labor Department; a unified self-service chatbot for various programs from nine agencies.

GSA plans to host another event at its central office in July to demonstrate proofs of concepts developed by federal agencies and U.S. companies.

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