Could A Chatbot Terminate Awkward Anmeldungs Once and for All?
If you have lived in Berlin, you have most definitely come across the ‘Anmeldung’ city registration form. You didn’t learn enough German right? So, your brain is scrambled, and which boxes do you tick? Where on earth do you put your passport details? Don’t worry, we’re in the same boat, and with the power of AI all these worries could disappear…
Maybe the robots can help?🤖
Club GLOBALS’ latest endeavour, AiRelo, is a chatbot looking to resolve all of the problems registering in Germany with the first ever city registration AI. I sat down with Founder & CEO of GLOBALS, Mario Paladini to discuss this promising piece of technology. As we take the lift to the ninth floor of their office building on Potsdamer Platz, he tells me: “AiRelo is the world’s first free city registration assistant. It’s multilingual, and just by quickly and securely uploading your passport or/and answering some questions, you can complete the form in more than 10 languages”. Mario is proud, especially of AiRelo, wearing light blue glasses to match with the chatbots’ logo — I spot more colorful glasses shelved on the wall while walking through the office as if they were rare artefacts.
“It’s a smart city solution that’s very relevant right now”
Mario officially launched the Facebook Messenger chatbot in September 2017 with his tech partner, Dirk Jacobs, in New York and expanded to Munich and Berlin, generating more than 600 users in the past six months. The lightbulb moment for AiRelo stemmed from Mario’s own personal experiences, moving to Berlin from Argentina, and like many others finding it hard to break through the complicated Anmeldung form. “I had to ask friends and colleagues, I felt like I was wasting their time, so that’s where I thought ‘hey, let’s make this solution, where you can select your respective languages, English, Spanish, French’” he explains.
How is this innovative?📈
AiRelo is free for the user, but it is the mobile nature of it that helps to create a more streamlined experience on Smartphones and Desktop devices. Additionally, valuable time is saved for the government as it removes the manual data validation process; it’s all automatic. Essentially, this also saves taxpayers’ money — “it’s a smart city solution that is very relevant right now” he affirms. As Mario explains this, he ironically points out of the large window we’re sat beside towards the Reichstag; which can be seen in all its glory over the trees of Tiergarten.
The features don’t end with filling out the form. According to Mario, with the user’s permission, their data can be shared to help speed up processes for essentials needed in Berlin such as health insurance or the bot can even recommend events via Eventbrite based on your geographical location. At a time where data protection and ePrivacy is becoming more and more stringent by the day, Mario guarantees that the data you give them is safe and secure. “We take security very seriously because we are in Germany and it’s a good advantage as they value security a lot, we are very concerned about data privacy” he assures me. The web form attached to the Facebook chatbot does not exist within the bot, but within a separate server that is securely controlled by the AiRelo team — and deleted once used.
We put it to the test.🧐
Of course, the best way to see how the chatbot works is to assess it ourselves, and that’s exactly what we did at Silicon Allee. The chat is seamless and smooth. It pre-fills answers so that you don’t have to type. One cool feature is that the chatbot will give you the option to review your data after every three or four questions so that you can make sure everything is correct.
Talking to robots can be awkward. Luckily, AiRelo also has some personality and will adapt its colloquial and friendly text to match the area you are registering in; so for Berlin the chatbot will respond with a witty “Ich bin ein Berliner!”, for example, or will have a light-hearted comment on your star sign when putting in your birth date. It’s these small quirks that makes a boring task more fun. Check out the short videos from our conversation with the chatbot to get a grasp of how it works.
Room for improvement.🛠
Mario stresses to me that they are still in early stages; “at the moment it’s about getting it out to the masses and then of course take care of other things” he tells me. AiRelo plans to expand from Facebook Messenger to other interfaces, starting with their own web bot (Alpha). “We are thinking of other interfaces to make AiRelo multi-interface, especially with Slack because we want to integrate it into companies” Mario explains. At the moment, it only saves a small amount of time. Once you complete the form, you still have to go into the registration office and book an appointment, but the team are in the process of negotiating with the government to remove the need to print the form, which would be a game changer!
Future improvements include the possibility to command the bot with your voice, which would be beneficial for those who have visual impairments, and a premium service where you can pay for absolutely everything to be completed by AiRelo.
Mario is thankful that his personal experience has created an entrepreneurial opportunity that, alongside his committed team, he plans to bring their AI to more cities, globally. “I’m proud and happy that people tried it out, and that we got good feedback, and now we just need help to spread the word from the community” Mario concludes.