Rome, Colosseum launches Nero, the chatbot that interacts with users

The Colosseum Park is among the first state institutions to launch a chatbot: it is called Nero and is designed to chat with users in real time, providing useful information about the archaeological park and its monuments.

In Rome, the Colosseum Archaeological Park (ParCo) today launched Nero, its own chatbot: it is among the very first cultural institutions in the state to adopt such a project. It is software that simulates and processes human conversations, enabling users to interact with digital devices as if they were communicating with a real person, in an intuitive, quick and timely manner. Nero, artificial intelligence software in the guise of the Julio-Claudian emperor, was designed to accompany the public in inquiring about the PArCo’s opening hours and to delve into historical news about the many monuments and sites that are part of it.

The project, conceived and promoted by the Colosseum Archaeological Park under the care and management of Federica Rinaldi and Astrid D’Eredità, is the result of an international collaboration with the Italian company Machineria srl, active in the production of content and automation for cultural institutions, and the French company Ask Mona, a leader in the creation of conversation tools, artificial intelligence and data analysis. As of February 2023, the PArCo’s online relations with the public will thus no longer be managed only through social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and direct emails or phone calls to the URP service, but finally also by resorting to a new IT tool, developed specifically for the needs of Italy’s most visited cultural venue, available by accessing the home page of the Colosseum’s website.

In the version developed by the PArCo to lead the information exchange, with the intention of improving the visitor experience, is Nero depicted wearing a toga and wearing a radiated crown, as depicted in some of the monetary issues of the years of his principate. This image immediately became the strongest and most engaging iconographic choice, which was also the outcome of surveys and interviews with samples of the public in a collection of suggestions and fundamental first impressions. In the lower-right corner of the PC, smartphone, or tablet screen, the character smiles as he stands in front of the Flavian Amphitheater (which the real emperor never knew) and cordially introduces himself to the chatbot users. The interface appears as a conversation window similar to a messaging app in which the interlocutor provides useful directions and does not spare a few shrewd jokes about his history and times. Nero can offer service information and handle over a hundred possible scenarios, providing answers in multiple languages-English, Italian, and French. A tool for interaction with the public that enables a continuous and constant dialogue with the PArCo.

“The Colosseum Archaeological Park is a living and evolving institution,” says Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum Archaeological Park. “Our goal is to facilitate and improve the visiting experience of users, adapting to new codes and languages to connect with a wide audience and in particular with the new generations. That’s why we promote with commitment a constant integration of our cultural proposal with the potential of technological innovation.”

Already in the first testing phase launched in early January and without any promotion, the platform has recorded in just 25 days a usage by 3400 users, more than 160 per day. The detailed study of the questions and queries helped to understand the recurring themes and to develop a grid of answers that, together with further thematic insights, forms the basis of the conversations that the chatbot “Nero” initiates by answering the first question posed by the users, recognizing the key words in it.

The first percentage data indicate the choice of conversation language, which for 58.8% is Italian, 33.4% English and 7.8% French. On the other hand, as far as content is concerned, 69.7 percent of users ask about tickets, 11.7 percent about schedules, 7.9 percent about routes, and 2.6 percent ask to talk to a human being, thus being diverted to the institutional email. Finally, a surprising fact: 29% of users delight in chatting with Nero.

Rome, Colosseum launches Nero, the chatbot that interacts with users
Rome, Colosseum launches Nero, the chatbot that interacts with users