AI chatbot to help with Hamilton plan

Hamilton City Council is making it easy for residents to have their say on its draft Long-Term Plan, with information available in six different languages and an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot capturing feedback.

The draft Long-Term Plan consultation document and submission form has been translated into the languages most-widely spoken by Hamiltonians, after English: te reo Maaoritraditional and simplified Chinese, and Hindi.

The consultation document can also be watched in a New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) video, and people can record a submission on the draft Long-Term Plan in NZSL.

Communication and Engagement Manager, Natalie Palmer said that for people to engage with Council’s plans for the city’s future, it was important to be able to access information in the way that best suits them.

“We want residents from all corners of our communities to share their voice on what would make Hamilton an even better place to live, work, play, and visit,” she said.

“That’s why we’ve made these key documents available in the city’s most common languages, because our plans affect everyone.”

Residents can also make submissions in their preferred language.

Council’s draft Long-Term Plan is based around its five priorities for the city. Videos introducing these priorities and the projects Council is seeking feedback on under each priority also have subtitles in Hamilton’s most common languages.

Visitors to Council’s website may have also discovered ‘Frankly’, an AI conversational agent people can chat with to give feedback on the draft Long-Term Plan.

Council worked with engineering consultancy BECA to ‘train’ the chatbot to get feedback from residents based on what’s important to them.

“To truly engage with our community, we need to think differently,” said Ms Palmer.

“Many people are too time-poor to fill out a formal submission form, let alone attend a Council meeting to give a verbal submission.

“This tool gives people the option to have their say in an easy, conversational way about topics that matter to them.”

To chat with ‘Frankly’, go to and click on the ‘Share your voice!’ box at the bottom-right of the page.