BlueAlpaca: a smart chatbot for a smart city

BlueAlpaca is the name of an exciting new project we are going to be involved in during 2019. In fact, U-Hopper is one of the 40 European companies that have been selected by the SynchroniCity consortium for creating pilots based on the solution they have been developing.

SynchroniCity is a EU funded project that is working on a new platform allowing smart cities and businesses to develop IoT- and AI-enabled services with the objective of improving the lives of citizens and growing the local economies.

With the BlueAlpaca project we aim at making IoT based information and smart city services accessible and usable by citizens. The objective is to assess the technical replicability and scalability of a conversational information service. Yes, we are going to to develop one (or probably more than one) chatbot! If chatbot is a new concept for you, I suggest you read the What a chatbot really is post.

The bot solution we propose offers smart cities a truly human-centered service with a lower total cost of ownership, unlocking innovation potential and lowering the entry barrier for cities to experiment conversational information services. Similarly, citizens will benefit from timely information access, 24/7 multi-channel availability. All this without the need to install any application and with a faster and engaging interaction.

During the kick-off meeting we had in London in February, an artist drew our idea of the BlueAlpaca project. Here’s the result, pretty cool, isn’t it?

The challenge would not be complete if our work wasn’t distributed across multiple European cities. We are, in fact, going to collaborate with the cities of Milan, Santander, Antwerp and Helsinki.
This is one of the reasons why I anticipated that we are probably going to develop more than one chatbot. Each city is, in fact, going to have its own dedicated bot!
Moreover, given the lessons learned during our previous chatbot projects and the big variety of data available, we may end up developing multiple single purpose bots for each city depending on their specific data availability.

So, what type of information are we talking about? What information are going to be available to the citizens? Well, the data is really diverse: the information we are most interested for our pilot chatbots are about city events, bike hire docking stations, parking spots (both on and off street) and finally air quality.

We are not yet sure about the particular data availability in the 4 cities we are collaborating with. We have just started digging into the data feed for the bike hire docking stations and we will soon create a first prototype of our BlueAlpaca chatbot. We will make sure to share some details on this in the next post; so be sure to checkout the blog for the coming updates.

By the way, how do you like the BlueAlpaca logo? We will have a personalized one for each city!