Explainability statement for Highways – webchat of National Highways

At National Highways, we’re committed to transparency and accountability in the use of artificial intelligence (AI), including our chatbot, Highway. We understand the importance of explaining the answers given by AI systems. This statement aims to provide you with an understanding of how Highway operates and how it gives answers.

  1. Chatbot overview: Highways is designed to provide information about:

    • Real-time traffic congestion on the Strategic Road Network
    • Scheduled road closures on the Strategic Road Network
    • Reporting issues in the Strategic Road Network
    • CCTV on the Strategic Road Network
    • Contact with us
    • Dart Charge
    • Noise
    • Claims
    • Recruitment
    • Statutory removal
    • Speed enforcement

Highways operates by analysing input provided by users and generating responses based on pre-defined rules and patterns. This means that, unlike some other types of webchats, the answers that Highway will give are limited to certain topics and questions. Highways will not be able to address other topics. The advantage of this approach is that the answers of the chatbot are pre-programmed and predictable. The disadvantage is that compared to chatbots that are not based on pre-defined rules, Highway might not always be able to converse as flexibly and can have trouble interpreting users’ meaning. Highways can make mistakes and users are encouraged to verify their answers.

There is no human actively reviewing the conversation and therefore no queries directed to the chatbot will be directly picked up or answered by a human.

Highways is not designed to respond to emergency situations or incidents. In case of emergency, 999 must be called.

  1. Data used: Highways processes the data you provide during your interactions, which may include text input, personal information, or historical chat data. However, users are discouraged from entering any private or personal information into the webchat interface. There is no need to provide such information for any of the topics that it is designed to answer. We collect and use this data in accordance with our privacy policy to ensure your privacy and security.

  2. Decision-making process: Highways asks questions and provides answers based on programmed rules and logic. It doesn't have consciousness, emotions, or personal biases. It decides which prepared response to provide based on how similar your inputted question / statement is to the expected user input. If Highway cannot confidently interpret your question / statement respective of the question it last asked, it will ask you to rephrase your input.

  3. Natural Language Processing: The questions and answers that Highways asks / provides and the order in which it does so have been programmed by a person – it does not generate its own responses via a machine learning model. However, Natural Language Processing is used to understand what the user has said relative to the type of input Highway is expecting from the user at any time. This means that you can ask / answer a question to Highways in a way you would naturally do so in conversation, rather than having to use the exact words Highways is expecting. A language understanding model developed by Microsoft is used to do this conversion / comparison. This model has been provided with additional examples of the ways users might ask a question in the context of National Highways to increase its understanding and performance.

  4. Explainability and accountability: We're committed to accountability and high explainability of Highways. To achieve this, we've implemented the following measures:

    • Regular audits and monitoring to identify and rectify potential biases.
    • Ongoing testing to verify the accuracy and fairness of responses.
    • A feedback mechanism where you can rate your experience after a conversation to help us improve the chatbot's performance.

National Highways takes full responsibility for Highway's actions and answers. We're dedicated to addressing any issues, concerns, or complaints regarding its use. If you believe that Highway has provided an incorrect answer or you have concerns about its operation, please contact us.

  1. User rights: As a user, you have rights under the GDPR and other applicable data protection laws. These rights include access to your data, the right to request corrections, and the right to object to answers made by automated systems. More information about your rights can be found in our privacy policy.

By providing this explainability statement, we aim to assure you that Highways is designed and operated with transparency and fairness in mind. We're committed to continuously improving our chatbot to provide you with the best possible experience while respecting your rights and privacy.