The HANDS question-answering and direction application, consisting of Answer Tree and Address Guesser modules is described in relation to the EDEN project from which it is derived. The use of an Open Source (OSS) model for application development and service delivery is considered in the context of European policy. The interaction of HANDS with Public Bodies’ (PBs) existing business process is described. We then consider the evaluation of the factors that affect acceptance by PBs, including those that go beyond technical effectiveness. We describe the underlying language processing engine used by HANDS and discuss the advantages of using Natural Language Processing (NLP) over keyword-based question-answering techniques in terms of increasing the potential for take-up from all citizens, not just the most literate or IT skilled.
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