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Hackney to harness robotics for business processing


Council to run pilot for benefits processes with a view to expanding into other operations

The London Borough of Hackney is preparing to pilot the use of robotics process automation (RPA) in managing housing benefits as a first step towards the wider deployment of the technology.

It has set up a team sponsored by the director of customer services and published a tender for support in running the pilot directed at automating key elements of high volume processes. This will have an initial focus on setting up a new benefits account for a property, moving an account to another property, and creating direct debits on the web.

The team has also created process maps for all three to support potential suppliers.

In addition to testing the performance of RPA for these processes, the council is aiming to use the pilot to identify others and build a business case for the technology. It also wants to understand what skills will be needed to support the technology and provide assurance around the technical, security and governance questions.

High volume, low value

Hackney’s initial research has established that robotics can be most effective for high volume, low value transactions in which there is no need for human judgement, or in which the judgement is based on firm criteria.

While in its infancy for local government, RPA has been tested by a handful of other councils, notably North Tyneside, which has used the technology as the basis for a new benefits claim process. It reported that the robot could perform the equivalent of 100 hours work against 37 by a human worker.

The prospects for robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence will come under the spotlight at UKAuthority's  Rise of the Bots event on 20 June 2017. Learn more from here.

Image by Gwydion M Williams, CC BY 2.0 through flickr


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