Western Romania city to introduce “virtual public servant”

Cluj-Napoca, a city in western Romania, will introduce beginning mid-April the country’s first AI-based “virtual public servant.”

Called Antonia, the public servant will deal with the online requests of the citizens and help them 24/7 in solving the issues they might have with the municipality. The virtual public servant will initially be a program, and later, its tasks will be taken over by a robot set up at the Cluj-Napoca City Hall.

“So far, the Cluj-Napoca City Hall implemented 47 procedures and apps that can be covered by what Cluj-Napoca Smart City means, and Antonia is a step further in this vison for the city, open to technology and talents,” Emil Boc, the Cluj-Napoca mayor, said.

In time, Antonia is to learn the optimal route for each citizen interacting with the City Hall, thus reducing the workload of the other civil servants. It will immediately send each citizen to the appropriate department based on the request they file.

“More and more processes, and the interaction of the citizens and visitors with the Cluj-Napoca City Hall will be simplified. The key component is what specialists call ‘machine learning’, and, furthermore, artificial intelligence,” the mayor explained.

The second part of the Antonia project entails the setting up of a robot in the City Hall. The robot will function non-stop and offer access to the municipality’s public services that are currently available through the Information Center for Citizens or through the district city halls.

The team developing Antonia is coordinated by the municipality’s IT Strategy Department and the Information Center for Citizens.

The city of Cluj-Napoca has developed as an IT hub in recent years and has also attracted many tech entrepreneurs. One in eleven employees in Cluj-Napoca work in the IT sector, according to a recent study, and there are 1,235 IT companies located there. A Cluj IT cluster was established in 2014.

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(Photo: Emil Boc Facebook Page)

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