How Governmental Conversational AI helps to Relieve Pressure from Coronavirus

Coronavirus Conversational AI

With outbreaks like coronavirus putting governments and administrations under the spotlight to see how they deal with the pandemic, the role of Artificial Intelligence to detect, prevent and assist governments in public health emergencies is becoming more prominent. 

Rarely does something travel faster than news. However, when updates of the rapid spread of coronavirus reached the world, scientists, administrations and enterprises were met with an escalation of public concern and requests for further information.

The rapid emergence of Covid-19 raised alarms as to the speed and power of infectious diseases and led to questions on how governments were handling the public health emergency and containing the spread of the virus.

Concurrently, this provided an opportunity to see how innovation and technology were playing a key role in combatting the outbreak. Pandemics lead to large volumes of people seeking immediate assistance and oversaturating services from various sectors and industries. Governments, enterprises and consulates have had to tend to employees and citizens requesting information and support when stranded in countries. Airlines, ticket suppliers, and sporting events have also had to assist customers who have had their flights cancelled and their events postponed.

At the same time, the spread of misinformation and fake news on social media has enhanced misconceptions regarding the outbreak and its risks, symptoms and statistics. However, given the wealth of data at hand, the impact of pandemics can be reduced and alleviated with the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and conversational AI.

Government use of AI to prevent and alleviate the impact of pandemics 

We have already seen the use of new technologies in the recent coronavirus outbreak, beyond infrared thermometers. Artificial Intelligence is being used by governments to track and predict the spread of the disease and in training for artificial drug discovery and treatments. 

Medical services are using AI to make quicker decisions. For example, some radiologists are using AI deep learning to make better diagnosis and verdicts based on medical images and chest X-rays, with each image being used as input for AI models, like Chinese company Alibaba’s AI-powered diagnosis system.

Natural language processing is also being deployed to parse social media, looking for posts that mention specific symptoms. At the same time, with the use of RPA (Robotic Process Automation), robots and drones are being deployed to enter areas that are unsuited for people, whether to scan sites, provide equipment, notify and find citizens or to interact with sick patients.

Artificial Intelligence is applied to monitor, predict and create detailed maps of affected areas. With the help of deep learning, these systems can offer data gathered from multiple sites in real-time and in combination with geo-locations, can suggest proactive steps to prevent the spread of the virus.

The role of conversational AI in public health emergencies 

Monitoring, assessing and predicting outbreaks and disasters is a vital necessity. However, managing a crisis when it has already occurred is equally as important. It is here where conversational AI can play a key role in helping governments handle public health emergencies. In countries where coronavirus has led to confinement, public restrictions and states of emergency, the importance of AI and chatbots in assisting medical and health teams is even more significant.

By detecting conversational traits at scale and in multiple languages, along with analyzing sentiments and tending to the general public, conversational bots can support governments in reaching out to emergency services and help people make the safest decisions in moments of crisis, overcoming any type of linguistic barrier.

Machine learning can be used to identify tweets from authorized experts making references to a crisis, therefore getting official and reliable information that can then be relayed to the public, combatting fake-news and untrustworthy sources.

Generalized alarm, augmented by social media sharing, can lead to confusion and over-reactions. As a result of this, governments can prevent panic by alerting the population via official emergency channels. This can be done with CPaaS (Communication Platforms as a Service), which are orchestrated communication services that are integrated into existing platforms, so that people can access this important information easily from the platforms they already use.

The easier it is to access these notifications, the simpler it will be to help avoid panic and minimize problems like emergency bottlenecks and equipment shortages.

Additionally, tweets or information from people in crisis areas can be used to detect virus hotspots and can be forwarded to emergency services in order to deploy resources. By integrating CPaaS and RPA into chatbot systems, the public can find a smoother experience when trying to resolve their queries or find assistance and give relief to emergency services and agents. 

Telemedicine start-ups and health apps in countries like Italy, Spain, the UK, USA, Singapore and Pakistan have been quick to deploy government-supported coronavirus diagnostic chatbots, that are linked to WHO updates, to try to lessen the number of visits to hospitals.

Health chatbots also use Machine Learning to look for anomalies in symptoms and alert doctors. However, it is governments and administrations who could make the best use of Conversational AI platforms in a state of emergency.

Conversational AI as a go-to point for people in moments of distress.  

Communications platforms can be used to connect users to law-enforcement networks, first-responders and security via text, voice and location. This can calmly and quickly provide efficient and reliable answers that may not be available due to the saturation of crisis hotlines. This 24/7 support can allow people to find safe-spots or the closest medical services or to help solve mass queries at a greater speed and any given moment.

The use of sentiment-analysis can also be important here to detect the severity and emotions of the person making the call and to act accordingly.  

With numerous governments declaring a state-of-emergency and announcing curfews and changes that affect the whole population, citizens are likely to request further information but may be reluctant to read or understand official state bulletins. By implementing chatbots, governments ensure that citizens can get quick access to public data and can get assistance in their native languages.

Government chatbots can be used to provide accurate and up-to-date information about medical aid emergency healthcare protocols and legislative changes.

Governments can use conversational AI to provide relief to the healthcare and education sectors when introducing intervention plans and solutions to ensure the continuity of public services.

Remote and integrated and unified communications can be used by health ministers and hospitals to sustain internal and external communication with the community, organize new protocols, plan responsibilities and review resources to ensure patient safety.

At the same time, with students and personnel being encouraged by officials to stay at home, schools and universities can reinforce the government messages on official, integrated communication channels that provide solutions, such as remote classes and learning management systems. 

Even when the situation is not extreme, conversational AI can be used to solve mid-urgency mass queries that can stretch the limits of customer services and call-centres, such as ticket and booking cancellations.

The ability to provide an interactive portal to give reliable feedback to the general public during times of uncertainty is crucial to ensure that FAQs are replied correctly when there is increased misinformation. Governments institutions, health organisations, embassies and even internal communications portals for global mobility employees can use Conversational AI to ensure that the right advice and steps are taken to guarantee the welfare of citizens and employees.

In the case of a future crisis, integrated conversational AI bots can also be used as assistants that target people with warnings and advice in the event of another emergency by noting their geo-location, a feature that can save lives, for example, in case they are close to an area where there has been an outbreak.

The adoption of AI by governments to predict and prevent pandemics can save countless lives. Preventive AI-powered systems will help understand patterns that can improve future diagnosis of viruses. However, even when a pandemic cannot be prevented, conversational AI can save precious time, increasing safety and coordination and assisting large volumes of people who need help while providing benchmarks for future public health emergency strategies.

By integrating communication platforms with CPaaS, governments and officials can coordinate communications and improve responsiveness via diverse channels, from SMS, cat, audio and video calls, social media or conferences, or industry specific applications, that are connected to AI-powered bots.

Governments should take note of the need to successfully deploy AI solutions, educating government personnel and using the latest innovations in conversational AI to ensure that there is a proficient management, monitoring and prevention of future pandemics.

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