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1000 council topics handled by AI: Basingstoke and Deane go live with an ICS.AI SMART Assistant

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

The council's investment in conversational AI, from market leaders ICS.AI, is a core component of their move to being digital by default

ELLIS Chatbot Logo

We're delighted to announce that yet another local authority has gone live with a SMART powered AI assistant from ICS.AI. Our technology will now provide 24/7 support for upwards of 180,000 local residents in Hampshire. Our company is based in Basingstoke and Deane, so it feels even greater having worked on this project with and for our own community.

ELLIS chatbot for Lewes and Eastbourne
The AI Assistant in action

Overview of what we built for Basingstoke and Deane:

  • A web-based AI assistant trained in over 1000 different council topics including waste disposal, parking, council tax, noise complaints and roadworks

  • Built-in feedback ratings and comments by citizens to capture feedback for ongoing improvements

  • WCAG 2.1AA compliance for near universal accessibility with customisation

  • Built on ICS.AI's proprietary SMART AI language model that delivers better than human parity performance

  • Granular reporting and dashboards that deliver operational insight

  • Ongoing improvements to performance included as standard

The council's journey to channel shift

Basingstoke and Deane logo

The council's Customer Digital Platform (CDP) program was setup to deliver tangible channel shift. By encouraging residents to self-serve, we can expect a natural reduction in in-person visits, telephone calls, emails and other avoidable customer contacts.

Another part of the B&D's digitisation is the website being overhauled. Increasing its online functionality will put more emphasis on automation, digitising services further. Investment in artificial intelligence (AI) is an essential component of this transformation. The high level objectives were to

  • improve customer service and user experience by providing a human parity conversational experience

  • reduce customer contact in the form of visits, telephone calls, emails and other customer channels coming into Reception, Contact Centre, Local Tax and Directly to other service areas (not via the Contact Centre)

  • provide a route to live chat when the AI system cannot provide further assistance

  • serve as a knowledgebase for the Contact Centre

  • provide customer insight to improve web design and inform service planning

Our previous customers, Southampton City Council and Telford and Wrekin Council, are champions of using AI assistants to deflect inbound queries. Southampton have seen over 30,000 queries answered by their AI assistant to date, and Telford recently told us about over 30% reductions in call volumes from busy service areas.

The impact on Basingstoke and Deane query volumes

We hear a similar story from councils we speak to throughout the UK. Contact volumes are going up, services are stretched, budgets are being tightened and effective cost saving measures are desperately needed.

The contact volumes we saw at Basingstoke and Deane are a testament to the demand a council can face.

Total Customer Contacts

Annual Volumes

Calls / webchats into Contact Centre


Emails & other into Contact Centre


Calls into Local Tax


Emails & other into Local Tax




Our SMART AI solution is a critical step towards driving more digital engagement and increased self-service. Basingstoke and Deane calculated the time they could free up by reducing contacts needing intervention, which became a critical component of the business case and decision to go with ICS.AI.

Martin Neale - CEO at ICS.AI
Martin Neale, CEO at ICS.AI
I am delighted to be working with our local council, and it's fantastic to see that engaging well with residents is a priority. I would also like to thank the forward-thinking team at Basingstoke who were a pleasure to work with!


Basingstoke and Deane Council chose to work with ICS.AI after a detailed analysis of our capabilities and history in the local government sector. ICS.AI were the chosen vendor due to

  • our sole focus on the UK's public sector

  • our proprietary local council language model trained on over 1000 topics and thousands of question variations

  • a proven project management framework allowing for quick deployments

  • our status as a certified Microsoft Gold partner

Basingstoke and Deane were able to complete procurement through the government's Digital Marketplace (G-Cloud) portal, for additional peace of mind and contractual transparency.

SMART - Human Parity AI Platform from ICS.AI

Basingstoke and Deane's investment in AI technology will transform their customer service experience. True channel shift for councils comes at the benefit of residents and council staff alike. Residents are able to self-serve at a time convenient to them without the need for long email chains, phone queues or face to face meetings.


ICS.AI are the UK's market leader in conversational AI solutions across the public sector. Based in Hampshire, we have customers across central and local governments, higher education and healthcare. As a Microsoft Gold Partner we have delivered channel shift and digital transformation with our proprietary SMART range of AI products.


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