IBM Watson Virtual Agent Answers COVID-19 Citizen Queries in Andhra Pradesh

by | Jun 8, 2020


Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the police helplines and call centers of other relevant bodies in the state of Andhra Pradesh have been overwhelmed with calls from citizens asking to be informed on matters relating to COVID-19. In order to reach as many citizens as possible and meet their information needs, the National Health Mission, under the Government of Andhra Pradesh has collaborated with IBM to set up a Watson – based virtual agent that has been designed and trained to understand natural language and interact with users.

The National Health Mission, Department of Health, Medical and Family Welfare, Government of Andhra Pradesh, in association with IBM has created a virtual agent to share information related to COVID-19 response efforts. The virtual agent has been launched at the Andhra Pradesh National Health Mission portal of Department of Health, Medical and Family Welfare – – a website under the auspices of the Andhra Pradesh Government.

The IBM Watson virtual agent (called Watson Assistant for Citizens) on the IBM public cloud brings together Watson Assistant, Natural Language Processing capabilities from IBM Research, and state-of-art enterprise AI search capabilities with Watson Discovery, to understand and respond to common questions about COVID-19 in English, Telugu and Hindi.

Based on the information provided by all the relevant ministries of the Central Government and the Andhra Pradesh Government for the prevention & treatment related guidance, citizen welfare schemes and consolidated at the main portal of the Department of Health, Medical and Family Welfare, Andhra Pradesh. The virtual agent can answer citizens’ questions, asking for clarification or redirecting the user to specific information on the portal or to other websites of related ministries and official bodies. The virtual agent is deployed in a web browser and it is built in a way that it safeguards the privacy of the users.

The objective of this type of advanced technologies (chatbots or virtual agents) is to help reduce the waiting times for calls that users make to the telephone lines of state services relating to the novel coronavirus with an aim to best serve them.

Shri Bhaskar Kattamneni, Mission Director, National Health Mission and Commissioner of Health, Medical & Family Welfare Department, Andhra Pradesh said, “I appreciate the collaborative efforts of IBM in disseminating meaningful information to citizens of Andhra Pradesh in this pandemic situation. While the government is putting all resources available at its disposal to use, efforts like these go a long way in helping citizens meet their information needs. I also appreciate the quick turnaround time of the IBM team to include Telugu, the official language of state, into the Watson virtual agent.”

Commenting on the announcement, Sandip Patel, General Manager, IBM India/South Asia said, “In these unprecedented times, access to accurate information plays a critical role in allaying fears, dispelling myths and building trust among citizens.”


IBM Watson says ‘Namaste India’





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Brian Pereira
Brian Pereira
Brian Pereira is an Indian journalist and editor based in Mumbai. He founded Digital Creed in 2015. A technology buff, former computer instructor, and software developer, Brian has 29 years of journalism experience (since 1994). Brian is the former Editor of CHIP India, InformationWeek India and CISO Mag. He has served India's leading newspaper groups: The Times of India and The Indian Express. Presently, he serves the Information Security Media Group, as Sr. Director, Editorial. You'll find his most current work on CIO Inc. During his career he wrote (and continues to write) 5000+ technology articles. He conducted more than 450 industry interviews. Brian writes on aviation, drones, cybersecurity, tech startups, cloud, data center, AI/ML/Gen AI, IoT, Blockchain etc. He achieved certifications from the EC-Council (Certified Secure Computer User) and from IBM (Basics of Cloud Computing). Apart from those, he has successfully completed many courses on Content Marketing and Business Writing. He recently achieved a Certificate in Cybersecurity (CC) from the international certification body ISC2. Follow Brian on Twitter (@creed_digital) and LinkedIn. Email Brian at: [email protected]
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