Life admin. Those all-consuming but essential tasks that take up our valuable time and energy. How good would it be to clear that list by simply chatting on our phones? Thanks to our friendly chatbot Debbie, this will soon be a reality.
One stop shops have been around for decades, in a whole range of spaces, from supermarkets to government job centres. Their basic aim has always been to make people's lives easier. People save time and energy by using one stop shops, simple because more of what they need is all in one place.
Over the years, the focus has shifted to be more and more online. Especially recently, this has grown exponentially, with people being directed to scan QR codes and check websites instead of setting up an appointment, visiting an office, or even reading a paper menu.
There are advantages to this, both for service-providers and service-users. Websites don't need to sleep, so they can be available 24/7, and they can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection, something particularly relevant in Cornwall, given the widely-spread population and variable infrastructure. Done the right way, digital services have the potential to be both cheaper and more environmentally friendly than their brick-and-mortar predecessors. After all, you won't have to throw away a menu if it never physically existed to begin with.
All that said, a move to the entirely digital, without acknowledging the benefits of pre-existing systems, has many drawbacks, too. You might not need to print paper menus when they can be accessed via a QR code, but that means every one of your patrons needs a smartphone to read it. Moving to digital might save money, but often at the cost of the people who need it most.
Not everyone has access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet and an internet connection. In Cornwall, mobile data is often spotty, to say the least. Even when all of that isin place, people can be left wading through official jargon, with no-one obvious to turn to for an explanation.
Enter VOSS - the Virtual One Stop Shop. Working with People Hub, we aim to bridge the gap between the fully-virtual and the brick-and-mortar one stop shop by providing the user with all the hardware they need. Each VOSS will be in a public place, like a library or job centre, where there are no financial or access requirements, evermore important with the rising cost-of-living. People can simply show up, open the tablet, and find out what they need to know.
None of this would be possible without Debbie, our friendly AI and all-round guide to local services. She can find your nearest job centre or foodbank, estimate your Universal Credit entitlements, even tell you what day is bin day! And for anyone who does prefer that personal touch, she'll always be happy to refer to you to one of the lovely folks at People Hub who can provide help and advice with jobs and training.
Working from her virtual desk in Debbieland, she can be accessed anywhere, anytime, whenever you want to talk to her, and her interface is designed to be conversational and straightforward. Just like having a chat.