The Department of the Navy is set to launch a new platform that consolidates multiple information technology help desks for programs and systems across the Navy and Marine Corps into a virtual, artificial intelligence-powered solution known as “Amelia.”
Amelia is a digital agent that leverages conversational AI to interact with and help solve issues for over 1 million users in the Department of the Navy — including active-duty officers, military spouses, civilian employees and more. The platform is part of the $136 million Navy Enterprise Service Desk (NESD) program being led by General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) that aims to take the Navy’s disparate IT help desks and consolidate them into a centralized service desk.
The company will release a pilot of Amelia to specific programs for internal testing by the end of June, and plans for a full rollout no later than August, Travis Dawson, GDIT’s senior program manager for NESD, told DefenseScoop in an interview.
A key feature of the entire program is shifting the Navy from a subject matter expert-based IT help desk to one that is knowledge-based and powered by artificial intelligence, Dawson said.
“Historically, they would call and they would have a phone tree that would say, ‘Hey press one for this, press two for that,’” he explained. “Now that it’s considered knowledge-based, if a sailor, Marine or even a civilian were to call the desk, they’re going to get one person and that person is going to be able to answer the question.”
Once deployed, users can contact Amelia using a telephone or text and discuss solutions to their questions. According to a GDIT spokesperson, the platform is able to resolve solutions 96% of the time on first contact and has an average handling time of 10 minutes.
Dawson emphasized that because Amelia uses conversational AI, the platform is not like typical chatbot assistants.
“Conversational means that it can recognize intent and give you a response, while typically a bot is just a back-end script with specific answers,” he said. “She’s actually interactive. She will talk back to you.”
The entire solution will be on a government cloud environment hosted by Amazon Web Services and will be available to users with internet access no matter the time of day or where in the world they are. It takes just 10 seconds on average for Amelia to answer when someone calls from the edge using a cloud connection, the spokesperson said.
The need for ubiquitous access to Amelia — especially for those stationed overseas in remote, bandwidth-constrained environments — influenced the platform’s simple and straightforward design, Dawson said.
“We made it very quick and easy to get to. It almost just looks kind of like a straight search engine or an old landing page,” he said. “Then you have the ability to send mail, you have the ability to look at knowledge-based articles and you have the ability to chat right from there with Amelia.”
The Navy also plans to deploy Amelia in a classified environment sometime in the future, but Dawson could not speak to the exact timeline.