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Building bots and saving lives

01 May 2019 · 3 min read

When it comes to keeping children safe from harm, instinctively we want to do all we can. And having the NSPCC as one of our clients means we help do this every day. Take a look at our recent hack day with them below.

When it comes to keeping children safe from harm, instinctively we want to do all we can.

And having the NSPCC as one of our clients means we help do this every day.

However, yesterday was an exception.

In just one day, we helped build them a ‘bot’ that could transform the way people report suspected child abuse and neglect through their website.

A ‘build-a-bot-workshop’.

This was our chance to address a real world business challenge and deliver human advantage in a short space of time.

presentation screen
discussing ideas in group

Faster and better reporting

The NSPCC’s Online Contact Centre currently provides a crucial service, allowing anyone to reach out anonymously if they’re concerned about a child’s wellbeing.

At the moment, suspicions are reported through the completion of an online form that provides crucial information to a helpline advisor who then gets in touch. However, filling out the form comes with it’s own challenges over and above the emotional nature of reporting on the welfare of a child.

The reporting form itself was long, impersonal, heavily caveated and, all parties agreed, it repeated itself several times over.

While the content of the reporting asked the right questions, perhaps with hindsight, the person filling it in hadn’t been considered as much as was required.

Throwing the reporting form out and starting again wasn’t an option, but neither was doing nothing. People who were trying to use the reporting form more often than not, dropped out leaving not just the form incomplete, but children somewhere potentially at further risk of abuse.

Our solution was a chatbot to help guide people through the reporting, humanising the  process and reassuring them at every stage. Forms can be perceived as intimidating, especially in lower risk cases where its lack of a personal touch could result in overreporting of the danger involved.

In some cases, it can take months to report on a child’s wellbeing. It’s possible that a chatbot working in harmony with the form could reduce the initial hesitation to contact the NSPCC.

Of course, no chatbot can replace the vital work of a human being. Due to the nature of the NSPCC and the highly sensitive cases they deal with, any use of technology must, of course, be carefully thought through.

presenting ideas
looking at ideas on wall

Turning post-its into prototypes

We’ve been discussing chatbots for a while with the NSPCC and they understand the potential benefits they could bring. The one day Jam was all about working out what the chatbot could look like and prove the business benefits before commissioning a full blown version.

We were lucky enough to have frontline service experts attend on the day, to help identify ways to support and enhance how every day we help, support and protect children and young people at risk. Their first-hand accounts of how they tackle these incredibly challenging reports, allowed us to sketch out a new solution in a matter of hours. Insights were delivered instantly and, combined with our expertise, ideas flowed and progress was made.

Today’s session was really interesting because of the combination of people in the room – experts from AmazeRealise and service providers from the NSPCC. It’s a mix that leads to the best solutions. We’ve managed to solve problems by breaking them down into small manageable chunks and built the confidence to take further steps.

— Clive Gardiner, Head of Digital, NSPCC

The next stage will be Proof of Concept. We’ll be turning the results from our day into a report that can be put in front of stakeholders to make the case for a full blown chatbot service.

Take a look at the highlights from the day below. 

While we’re still at concept stage for this work, we know it’ll make a difference. If you’re interested on having us host a workshop or hack to help solve one of your creative, strategic, data, or technical challenges get in touch with Rob or please use the form below.

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Want to know more? Got a question? Want to work with, or for us? We’d love to hear from you.