Indian Government launches WhatsApp Chatbots to create awareness about the Coronavirus

By Sameer Mitha | Published on 23 Mar 2020
Indian Government launches WhatsApp Chatbots to create awareness about the Coronavirus
HIGHLIGHTS

The app is called the MyGov Corona Helpdesk.

Users can chat with the bot by sending a message on +919013151515.

The chatbot can provide information like helpline numbers, information about the symptoms along with tips on how to reduce the risk of Coronavirus.

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Amidst the spreading misinformation about the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, there are those that aim to give the correct information. The government of India is working at ensuring the right information is sent to people about the disease. For this, the central government of India has launched a WhatsApp chatbot called MyGov Corona Helpdesk. This chatbot gives users information pertaining to the Coronavirus. A Mumbai-based firm called Haptik Technologies has built the chatbot. Reliance Jio acquired Haptik Technologies last year. 

“The ‘MyGov Corona Helpdesk’ has been engineered to fight rumours, educate the masses and bring a sense of calm to the current chaos-like situation. We are committed to assisting the government with all our possible strengths and resources and hope that this chatbot can help the GoI spread the right information across the nation,” Aakrit Vaish, co-founder and chief executive of Haptik, told TechCrunch.

So how does the app work? Well, you can simply send a “hello” message to +919013151515 or click here to get started with the chatbot. Once you say hello, you are greeted with a message that reads, “This is the Government of India's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Helpdesk to create awareness and help you and your family stay safe.” You also receive an email ID and emergency numbers you can use to contact for any emergencies. Using the assigned alphabets, you can also get answers to some common questions. 

A. What is Coronavirus and what are its symptoms?
B. How does Coronavirus spread?
C. How to reduce the risk of Coronavirus?
D. Professional advice By AIIMS-Director
E. Know more on Coronavirus (including District Wise Reported Cases)
F. Where to get help?

We spent 5 minutes chatting with the bot, and for the most part, we got all the right answers. Typing the name of a state showed us a PDF that counts the currently registered cases in that state (although the information looks to be a bit outdated). 

Asking the question, “How to reduce the risk of Coronavirus?” We were given a list of Youtube videos talking about how to wash our hands properly, how to sneeze, maintaining distance and a couple of documents about best practices. Safe to say, the information being provided are a set of guidelines, rules, and information people can rely on without worrying about the source as this information is coming straight from the government. 

In addition to the government, service providers are looking to help those working from home. BSNL and MTNL are offering users working from home additional data. You can read more about that here. Google has added a Coronavirus search hub. You can read about that here. In this state of panic, there are those looking to exploit the vulnerable. You can read more about the cyberattacks during the times of Coronavirus here.

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Sameer Mitha

Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels.

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