City Chatbot Available in Spanish Starting on National 211 Day

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
kfarley@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

City Chatbot Available in Spanish Starting on National 211 Day

Posted: 02/10/2021
To mark National 211 Day on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, the City’s 311 Center for Service Innovation will reveal a Spanish-language option for its online chatbot.

Starting Thursday morning, when users initiate a chat, they will be asked “What is your preferred language? / Cual es tu idioma preferido?” and can choose between English and Espanol to navigate the bot through frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and other social services. 

“We’re trying to reach people where they are and speak to them in the language they’re most comfortable with,” says Russ Jensen, Director of the 311 Center for Service Innovation. “We want them to feel safe asking for help.” 

The chatbot premiered in March 2020 to provide basic information about the U.S. Census and, soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic. The chatbot also links users to TN211.org if they are seeking community resources like assistance with rent, housing and utilities. 

Making the chatbot multilingual has been a goal from the beginning, Jensen says. Chatbot programmers worked with partners including the City’s Business Liaison Patricia Robledo, Knox County Health Department’s Lilliana Burbano and staff at Centro Hispano to ensure the Spanish-language translations are accurate and accessible to our community’s Spanish speakers. 

The chatbot is available on the home page of the City’s website at KnoxvilleTN.gov and KnoxvilleTN.gov/Chat. Users can message East Tennessee 211’s Facebook page to start a chat, or, when using a mobile phone, by texting the words “help” or “hello” to 865-419-4211. 

The chatbot is available 24 hours a day, making it accessible when 311/211 representatives are unavailable after office hours or due to an increase in the volume of calls, which the office has experienced frequently in the past year.

For information about the chatbot, the City’s Center for Service Innovation and its 311 and 211 operations, visit KnoxvilleTN.gov/311