Brent Council spends £12,000 on virtual assistant for £90m civic centre

Shanice is Brent Council’'s virtual assistant

Shanice is Brent Council's virtual assistant - Credit: Archant

Council chiefs have announced the employment of the perfect worker at its £90m civic centre.

Shanice will never pull a sickie, need a cigarette break or nip off to the loo.

She will also be punctual and polite at all times but that’s because she’s a ‘virtual assistant’.

In a pioneering move by Brent Council, the hologram, believed to cost £12,000, will greet visitors to Brent’s registration and nationality service.

In her day to day role she will help point people in the right direction if they’ve come to register a birth or death, apply for a marriage licence, citizenship or tie the knot.

Unlike a real receptionist, she’s also got a ‘touch screen’ function, so that visitors can key in the reason for their visit and get a tailor made presentation about where they need to go and what documentation they will need.

‘Virtual assistants’ are currently used in airports and exhibition halls in the UK, and Shanice is the first to ever be used in a town hall.

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The council claim they will save £17,000 a year but there will be additional costs involved in maintaining Shanice.

Cllr James Denselow, Brent Council’s lead member for customers and citizens, said: “The best thing is it’s going to save us lots of money, without compromising our service. Nowadays we’re constantly having to look at innovative ways to cut costs and they don’t come more cutting edge than Shanice.”

Cllr Paul Lorber, leader of the Brent Lib Dems, said her employment was an ‘interesting idea’.

He added: “I hope it is better than the council’s phone system.

“The council isn’t very good at communication so let’s see if this is an improvement.”