Conversational AI could be essential to inform citizens about COVID-19


The bandwidth and efficiency of global health organizations has been tested in the midst of the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19). As a result, they are finding it increasingly difficult to assume their civil responsibility for keeping the public properly informed. Overall, we rely on this information to guide us through a pressing period like this.

But the challenges posed in recent months have raised the question of whether organizations are properly equipped to deal with a crisis of this magnitude.

Hopefully they can adapt their responsiveness using conversational artificial intelligence, technologies that help computers process and respond to text and voice input.

Identify the problem

The unexpected rate of change around the coronavirus epidemic forces global health organizations to distribute information to a large population 24 hours a day. These entities do so via the media, the Web, email, text messages or even cell diffusion. But this information becomes obsolete very quickly, and there is no easy way for citizens to get timely, relevant and personalized updates on the crisis. Part of this burden falls on human agents via chat or voice, in physical call centers, to respond to the first line of the problem by responding to the public.

Due to the nature of the spread of COVID-19 from person to person, it has become difficult for employees to continue entering call centers as this would violate the guidelines for social distancing and , therefore, run the risk of contracting and spreading the virus to those with whom it comes into contact. Call centers have seen a significant reduction in the number of employees readily available to assist and have limited responses to assist callers with COVID-19. It even has an impact on emergency call centers.

The physical limitation blends in the next issue, which concerns volume. Since COVID-19 has become a global problem, it needs an equal-scale solution to reach everyone. We have different needs in different parts of the country and even around the world. There have been far too many inquiries for call centers to respond to, and when those who seek help reach health organizations – if they go that far – interaction with representatives is limited and less personalized according to the person’s needs.

Conversational AI changes that.

Innovative approach to conversational AI


Several government health organizations have turned to conversational AI as a solution for dumping calls from concerned citizens, while ensuring that they provide personalized engagements.

Using a conversational AI system to combat the response around COVID-19 can fill the gaps left by absent human agents and allow these call centers to function to their full potential while respecting the directives of social distancing. For example, a call center that usually has 300 employees can now only safely handle 50. The front-line AI-driven virtual assistant can easily be implemented to keep these agencies afloat.

Entities from all over the world come together to find a quick solution. For example, Facebook has called on developers around the world to partner as part of their launch of a global program, which links government health organizations and United Nations health agencies to developers to leverage Facebook and Messenger to more effectively share timely and accurate information and accelerate responses to affected citizens. Conversational AI developers have joined forces to help organizations automate answers to frequently asked questions, helping their staff, all for free.

The main goal of a solution is to be interactive, conversational and to ask questions in free form. Some efforts involve the use of emails, text messages or social media posts to inform the public. In comparison, conversational AI provides interactive support that can give entities insight into how their constituents are coping with the pandemic.

Interactions with conversational AI agents provide real-time information to understand where there is a tendency for unanswered questions and anxiety among different groups of people, such as test sites, response time for results, common symptoms, location sensitive recommendations, and more. A demonstration example is MyGov in India, the largest government with citizen digital infrastructure in the world. MyGov launched the MyGov Corona Hub with an interactive Facebook Messenger system: The promotion of this service is done via Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Twitter and Telegram.

These systems can be used to create a “digital pulse” of a community, region or an entire country. This is done first by analyzing the interactions, but then by probing the audience with the current state of their experience, for example, “do you have any of the following symptoms”, “does anyone one in your household has a fever greater than 99 degrees “,” If you tried to take a test, did you pass. “

They can also receive advice on effectively sharing updates with their audience and seamlessly transmitting automated conversations to a live person if necessary. Whatever the support, it is essential to create a back channel and re-engage the client without repeating the trip at any moment.
It is important, like those who provide a service, to bring our minds together and make a collective effort to identify global solutions when needed. Currently, with more than half a million confirmed cases worldwide, according to Worldometer, conversational AI is a powerful solution to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will work to address the concerns of millions of citizens around the world, while personalizing the experience along the way, keeping them informed, comfortable and, most importantly, safe.

Mahi de Silva is the co-founder and CEO of, a developer of AI-based messaging platforms. joined Facebook provide government health organizations and United Nations health agencies with a timely solution to disseminate accurate information to affected citizens regarding COVID-19. For more information on the Messenger experience during COVID-19, visit

This story is republished from TechTalks, the blog that explores how technology solves problems … and creates new ones. Like them on Facebook here and follow them Twitter.

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