Brent Council hire a hologram as their new receptionist

£12,000 hologram now greets visitors at the civic centre

Heather Saul
Tuesday 20 August 2013 12:13 BST

A virtual receptionist has been hired to greet visitors who arrive at Brent Town Hall.

The hologram, played by actress Shanice Stewart-Jones, will be projected onto a screen at the £90 million civic centre, to make Shanice appear to be seated behind a desk

The hologram can respond to questions about locations in the building, such as where to register births or where to head to apply for a marriage certificate.

It will also have a touch screen function where visitors can type in the reason for their visit and be given information on where to go or what kind of paperwork they require.

News of the new installation has been met with mixed reviews from the community, with library campaigners describing the initiative as "incredibly wasteful", according to the Evening Standard.

Laura Collignon, of the Brent SOS Libraries campaign, said: “It’s incredibly wasteful. That £12,000 should be spent on essential services.

“When they cut libraries they said they needed money for things like home care and other core services, clearly a hologram isn’t a core service.”

Alison Hopkins, budget and finance spokeswoman for the opposition Lib Dems, told the newspaper: “There have been complaints about signage in Brent’s new civic centre but this is a startlingly expensive way of solving the problem.

“As the council admits, Shanice can’t respond even to basic questions but is limited to a small number of pre-recorded scripts.

“I hope she has been told one of the commonest questions is: ‘ Where are the toilets?’”

Installing the hologram has cost Brent Council £12,000, but they argue that it will save £17,000 in comparison to hiring a real receptionist.

James Denselow, Brent’s lead member for customers and citizens, said: “This is the sort of space age technology you hear about but never really expect to see, especially in council buildings.

“The best thing is it’s going to save us lots of money, without compromising our service."

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