Virtual Assistants for E-Government Interaction

Virtual Assistants for E-Government Interaction

Rodrigo Sandoval-Almazán, Mario Arturo GutiérrezAlonso
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-230-5.ch015
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The objective of this chapter is to provide an example of a user-friendly interface for knowledge management and information retrieval, through the use of virtual assistants in E-government applications. The chapter is going to provide a short state of the art on virtual assistants technology, highlighting the knowledge management aspects. Two case studies: the Mexican state of Guanajuato, and the Federal Government Citizen’s Web Page will be presented and discussed. These case studies provide new insights into access methods, interfaces and ways to query and present information in e-government applications.
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E-government portals are improving the way citizens interact with government. However the government officials are not always aware of the users needs and expectations; many e-government portals start as an unidirectional communication channel designed to provide general information about bureaucratic processes and transactions.

The new trend of e-government portals is to establish a bidirectional communication to better address the citizens needs and expectations, becoming more friendly sites. According to this goal, the governments – local, state and federal – are increasing their efforts to assess their portals and improve them. The search for better communication and interaction paradigms has led to the use of virtual assistants as an important element in the user interface of an e-government portal.

The aim of this chapter is to explain how virtual assistants can be used to facilitate the interaction of citizens with e-government portals and analyze their effectiveness in a real situation (e-government portal of the Guanajuato state). virtual assistants are usually presented in the form of virtual characters that can have a realistic or a cartoon-like appearance. They are visualized using video or 3D graphics and are able to answer questions asked in a written or even oral form. Furthermore, the chapter will try to relate the implications of virtual assistants in the e-government processes. Eventually, it would justify the insinuation of data mining in the knowledge management system, utilizing virtual assistants.

This chapter will be divided in the following sections:

A review of the e-government concepts required to understand the use and potential benefits of virtual assistants in e-government portals. A brief introduction to virtual assistants technology. Role of virtual assistants in the knowledge management processes and effectiveness of virtual assistants in the e-governance systems. Two case studies representing the use of a virtual assistant in the e-government portal of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. The description will include: history about internet achievements in government, process of implementation, analysis of recently obtained data concerning the performance and user acceptance of the technology.

Discussion and conclusions, providing a set of best practices and other recommendations concerning the use of virtual assistants in e-government portals.

The Methodology of the chapter will contain two kinds of information: Theory about the virtual assistants research and e-government. Data collected by the authors directly from the sources, including: interviews with the systems director in charge of the virtual assistant, and statistics from the governmental source: number of visits, number of questions answered, costs, etc. The final section is on future research.

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