A smart butler for the administration of tomorrow

At the “Vater Smart” hackathon organized by IBM and Aperto in early November, scientists from the fortiss Open Data and Information Management (ODIM) field of competence placed second in the categories “Best Pitch” and “Best Customer Experience” during voting at the conclusion of the event. The event was designed specifically for the public sector and provided public administration employees the opportunity to collaborate with IT specialists and scientists to create innovative solutions for digital public administration services.

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With the prototype "Verwaltungsbutler" fortiss took two podium places (second best pitch and second best user experience) in the final voting.

As “challenge owners”, fortiss scientists Peter Kuhn and Madhi Sellami worked on the Online Access Act (OZG) topic and developed a prototype solution to address the challenges in this area. The two researchers worked together intensively during the nearly two-day event with experts from IBM to come up with a technical solution for highly user-friendly administrative services, part of which involved automating applications and other workflows with the help of the “administrative butler” assistant.  The assistant prototype takes over required tasks that users previously had to carry out on their own.

Using the example of bulky waste disposal services and applications for the child allowance, Peter vividly demonstrated how administrative services can be technically implemented today without the user having to submit an application. The digital assistant automatically retrieves verifications from the relevant government office and creates applications. A dashboard allows the user to transparently comprehend and monitor the activities of the butler in real-time.

The solution proposed by fortiss, which is based on current research findings from the field of so-called proactive public administration services, has the advantage that the automation remains under the control of the user. The proposal also received important technical input from the Center for AI, a collaborative research effort between IBM and fortiss. Technically, the administrative butler is based on the existing infrastructure, plus interfaces to the “FIT-Connect Zustelldienst“ and “BayernID” platforms operated by the Institute for Communal Data Processing in Bavaria (AKDB), which enables faster transfer of the solution to practical application.

IBM and Aperto, organizers of the hackathon, provided the technical implementation and methodology support. Technology and agile coaches, or cross-functional teams comprised of challenge owners (public sector), mentors (IBM/Aperto) and technical support (partners), provided support to the individual teams. Participants included the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), the North Rhine-Westphalia State Office for Information and Technology (IT.NRW), digital@M GmbH, the start-up center of the University of the Bundeswehr founders@unibw and many more. Thus, the hackathon not only covered all federal levels, but also a wide range of public sector topics. The main focus was on the IT staff (developers, data scientists, POs, designers) and the heads of public administration innovation/digital units as drivers of the digital transformation. The event ultimately provided special added value to the public administration IT specialists, who can implement and re-use the results of the hackathon in their organizations at any time.

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