EASTON, Pa. – Easton residents will soon be able to use artificial intelligence to get instant answers from city hall 24 hours a day.
According to City Administrator Luis Campos, the city is launching a new tool next week from a company called Citibot which uses an AI chat bot to help residents find answers or locate the department they need to report problems. For example, said Campos, “you could type, ‘is the farmers market open today?’ into the chat box ”and the bot would be able to tell the user if there was a cancellation due to weather.
The service would also be able to do things such as direct residents to the appropriate part of the city web site to pay fees or find permit applications, Campos said.
“It’s a lot more effective than doing it by email,” he said.
Residents will be able to access the service any time either through the web site or by sending a text message.
“We know that our web site does not always have the information people really want,” said Mayor Sal Panto, and this service would make it simpler and quicker for residents than waiting for an email response from a staffer.
Campos said the AI would still provide the humans in city hall with an alert if it encountered a question that it could not answer, so they could respond. He said that there will be an official announcement soon, and the service could go live as soon as Monday if all goes smoothly.
Mayor Panto said that the “Cyrkle in the Circle” performance, which was postponed due to rain last weekend, will take place Sunday in Center Square. The concert is scheduled to start at 1:30 pm with local band TimeWhys, and The Cyrkle will go on at 5 pm If there is rain again the show will move indoors to the bus depot at the Intermodal Transit Center on Third Street.
The Cyrkle was formed at Lafayette College in the 1960s and went on tour with the Beatles, having hits with the songs “Red Rubber Ball” and “Turn-Down Day.”
The council approved a finalized budget for the $ 21 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding it received. The new budget reorganizes several planned projects, including low-income housing, park improvements and road work, under the approved categories designated by the federal government.