London South Bank University develops Chatbot to improve communication with students

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London South Bank University (LSBU) has partnered with leading Cloud and Digital Services Provider, ANS, to begin developing a unique chatbot that could one day be used to enhance online communication with students.

LSBU has leveraged ANS’ chatbot accelerator, ‘Basebot’, and the AWS cloud to provide a foundation on which to develop their chatbot, ‘Ellie’. Using Amazon Sumerian and voice-enabled technology, LSBU will create a unique avatar to produce a 3D front-end experience for university students.

Access to LSBU’s chatbot, ‘Ellie’ will be provided across multiple digital screens located around the university campus. The concept currently in development consists of strategically located screens around campus that will communicate with students. Whenever a student approaches a screen, Ellie the chatbot will verbally communicate personalised information to that student, tailored to their individual requirements and preferences. This could include the time and location of their next lecture, instructions on how to get there and even enable them to pre-order their favourite drinks and hot snacks en route to their destination.

As well as providing useful information and returning responses to frequently asked questions, the plan is that, over time, Ellie will use machine learning and predictive analytics to make suggestions and recommendations to students without the need for a prompt.

This project is in the very early stages of development and it’s estimated it will take several months to reach the launch stage. Alex Denley, LSBU’s Director of Innovation and Transformation said: “We wanted to develop a sophisticated chatbot that could do more than just answer frequently asked questions. Voice and facial recognition technology have been around for a number of years now, as has AI and machine learning. We wanted to build on this knowledge base to leverage the power of a combination of these technologies, to create a truly unique and engaging digital offering for our students.
“ANS have worked with us to provide a unique chatbot foundation. Their agile delivery model was hugely valuable to us – reinforced by the company’s proven successful track record in the higher education sector. We were confident we could work collaboratively with ANS to deliver this truly unique project.”

Andy Barrow, CTO at ANS, said: “Chatbot technology isn’t new to the higher education sector, but London South Bank University are really pushing boundaries with their unique digital vision for improving the student experience. We’re delighted to be working so closely with the University to bring this vision to life. We look forward to working with LSBU in future as they develop and expand their digital offering.”