Milton Keynes transforms UK Planning sector with AI and Idox

Milton Keynes Council has implemented Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to advance services and increase efficiencies across its Planning domain – saving time, money and resource in the process.

The Council has driven the AI project – integrated with Idox’s back office infrastructure – with a vision to delivering three key outputs:

  1. Build a customer-facing chatbot – populating answers to citizen FAQs
  2. Introduce intelligence – offering citizen self-service, with the chatbot responding to queries in real time and escalating to Planning Officers where necessary
  3. Deliver validation and recognition – striving for end-to-end automation enabling the review, response, classification and retrieval of household Permitted Development applications

Brett Leahy, former chief planner for the Council, suggests that introducing AI will help planners focus more on substantive planning issues, such as community engagement and placemaking, and represents the ‘holy grail’ for Planning authorities across the country.

Following the chatbot’s launch in October 2018, the volume of calls to the Council’s Planning team has already seen a reduction, while the number of chatbot conversations is increasing, saving important planning officer time. Trials for the final phase of the project – validation and recognition – are also well underway with 124 working days forecasted to be saved on assessing applications via AI validation, increasing to 169 working days saved when including automated AI indexing.

Both the Council and Idox have developed a blueprint for other local authorities – not just an exclusive model for Milton Keynes. By crafting open-source technology, the Council is committed to taking the model outside the area, helping to drive the evolution of Planning processes nationwide. It also has the capability to extend to, and transform, other service areas.

If you’re interested in finding out more, please email the team.

You might also be interested to read our latest article – How AI is transforming local government – which takes a look at other AI projects around the world and the outcomes evidenced so far.

Read How AI is transforming local government here.