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CivTech Weeks #14–15: Go live!

At 9am last Monday, we turned the new PolyAI system live on the Scottish Citizens Advice Helpline. (Here’s a 30-sec video of the system.) Even though we had trialled the system extensively, it was a nervous moment. By our 10am standup it was clear that it was working, and working well. A high proportion of the first 60 calls had been redirected successfully.

By Friday, the system had answered 1798 calls, with a 75% success rate. A 75% success rate might not sound amazing, but we are using a harsh measure of success. Currently we are defining success as ‘a call where the caller confirms that we found a local bureau for them’. By this definition, if someone hangs up in the first 30 secs for any reason — if they are just trialling the system, if they’ve got cold feet, if their kid accidentally shuts the car boot on someone’s head — it counts as a failure for the statistics, but it seems unlikely the system is to blame. Also, if someone tries to enter their system 3 times without success, they get texted a web address to find their local bureau — so the ‘failure’ state isn’t too bad an experience.

Over the course of the week, we’ve rolled out a batch of tweaks as we’ve seen how it is used in the wild. If you try the new system, please complete this feedback form. Big thanks to the 70 people who have completed the form so far. It has been hugely helpful, and given us ideas for further improvement.

We are delighted that CAS have decided to keep the system live after the initial week’s trial.

Demo Day

CivTech 6 Demo day audience watching our presentation video.

Along with the 11 other teams on the CivTech Accelerator, we presented our demos at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. Here’s what Andy said:

“Demo Day was pretty full on! It was my first time meeting the lovely CivTech team in person. What’s more, it was my first time out after a week in bed with concussion (my adoring son had lovingly slammed my head in the car boot).

Huge thanks to George Eckton from CAS for introducing the challenge. He did a great job articulating the importance of local service design at CAS. It is a key value of CAS, and a key attribute of the solution we had designed.

A highlight was meeting Ivan McKee, Scottish Minister for Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise. He was well informed about the Helpline and quickly grasped the potential of no-code to have transformative impact.

Another highlight was giving the new Side No-Code hoodie its first outing. This merch is sick, as my son would say.”

You can watch our entire presentation on the CivTech Challenge website.

Come join SIDE!

It looks like we have secured funding to continue this work for another year. As such we are looking for No-Code Product Owner to join the SIDE team. If you are a no-coder interested in the product ownership or service design side of things, or if you are a product owner wanting to move towards no-code, we’d love to hear from you. It is a rare and exciting opportunity to be using no-code at scale to deliver social impact.

If you’d like to hear more about the job before applying we’ll be running info sessions on Zoom on Wednesday 23rd February and Wednesday 2nd March.




SIDE = Social Impact Digital Explorers. We work at the intersection of social impact + no-code.

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