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Neath Port Talbot

NPT Council improving services through Artificial Intelligence

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Neath Port Talbot Council is using intelligent automation and robotic technology to improve outcomes for residents and businesses across the whole of the county borough.

It has introduced Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to reduce the amount of staff time required to process payments and respond to Environmental Information Requests (EIRs).

This has reduced the cost per transaction for EIRs by 95%, and for ‘Faster Payments’ by 91%. The time taken to process ‘Faster Payments’ has been cut by half, and it now take five minutes instead of 20 to process an EIR. This has freed-up 500 hours per year in the Land Charge team, allowing officers to concentrate on more complex functions that requiring human decision-making.

Councillor Leanne Jones, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Transformation, said: “From medical care, to chatbots, to driverless cars, artificial intelligence and automation technology is playing an ever increasing role our daily lives.

“The council has recognised this and transforming the way we deliver our services is one of the priorities in our smart & connected digital strategy.

“Over the coming months and years, we will be focussing on how we can support our communities and businesses to move forward from the pandemic through our Recover Reset Renew project. Making use of RPA will most certainly help with this.

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“The combination of faster services that take less officer time will benefit residents and businesses and is a responsible use of public resources.” 

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RPA works by creating a virtual workforce, able to mimic human processing of repetitive, labour-intensive processes. It increases efficiency, working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, carrying out repetitive tasks with 100% accuracy.

The technology automatically receives EIR requests over email, enters data into the back-office system and generates a response to the requestor, reverting any complex requests to a council officer for checking and processing.

Meanwhile, the ‘Faster Payments’ solution automatically inputs data into the authority’s finance systems and conducts verification before payments are released.

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In developing and testing the RPA, Neath Port Talbot Council worked with digital services company Arvato, and officers from Finance and Legal services. 

Payments processing and Environmental Information Requests are the latest in a pipeline of areas of work to benefit from the roll out of RPA technology in the council, which was developed following a successful HR pilot to process DBS checks.


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