Virtual assistant brings the benefits of technology to every citizen [Estonia]

Virtual assistant brings the benefits of technology to every citizen

In the spring of 2022, a new methodology was introduced in the development of the virtual assistant Bürokratt: the entire development process would be public, from the planning of the work and the daily code delivery to the publication of the results.

‘The purpose of the open-source development was to avoid internal work planning, code repositories, delivery, and other processes that are hidden from the public by default in conventional software development. Bürokratt is developed openly because development partners who are scattered all over the world must be in the same information field at all times. The same applies to the clients of Bürokratt,’ explained Rainer Türner, the architect of Bürokratt at RIA.

In order to make sure that the development model works, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and RIA collaborated with the international R&D team of Microsoft and Net Group as part of a pilot project.

‘The first collaborative project was the development of a prototype of DMR (Distributed Message Rooms). This is the prototype of the first central software component of the virtual assistant of the Estonian state. This component enables the communication between the clients of Bürokratt, and it also has knowledge of who can communicate with whom and under what conditions. With this test development, we gained important knowledge on how to further develop Bürokratt,’ said Kaupo Laagriküll, Head of the Machine Learning and Language Technology Department at RIA.

Virtual assistant brings the benefits of technology to every citizen

Laagriküll added that four months after the end of the pilot project, 20 projects have already been published on the GitHub account of Bürokratt. ‘These include drafts, planned procurements, and developments that are already in the works on a daily basis. We invite everyone interested in open-source development to follow the GitHub account of Bürokratt, use our software, participate in discussions, and contribute as a partner.’

According to the head of the department, open-source development has many advantages, and a constant exchange of information helps the parties create better solutions. ‘We were satisfied with this development. We want to increase cooperation in the field of open-source development, and it will become clear how exactly we will do this in the near future.’

According to Ott Velsberg, Chief Data Officer at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the cooperation project with Microsoft is a good example of how the transition to cloud solutions helps to support the development of public services and improve user experience. ‘This project showed that cloud solutions offered by the private sector play an important role in the Estonian cloud policy, enabling activities to be carried out significantly more efficiently,’ said Velsberg.

‘The level of digitalization we have reached in the 21st century entails opportunities for us: to rethink business and the processes of the public sector while taking into account the capabilities of technology. If a business or an administrative process or organization can be more efficient, faster, or even more knowledgeable through technology, why not change it? We are pleased to be part of such a project of Government of Estonia that makes citizens´ lives easier – it completely changes the way people interact with the government and use public services’ said Evangelos Chrysafidis, Industry Lead at Microsoft.

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