New Delhi | Jagran Technology Desk: The WhatsApp chatbot, 'MyGov Corona Helpdesk', introduced last year by the Ministry of Health and MyGov has crossed 3 crore users in a year. With this, it has now become one of the largest COVID helpline services on WhatsApp. This chatbot is available in both Hindi and English languages and users can ask questions through voice commands also. To use 'MyGov Corona Helpdesk', people have to save the WhatsApp number +91 9013151515 number on their mobile phone and send 'Hi' on it. After which you can start a chat to clear your queries about coronavirus.

Aakrit Vaish, co-founder and CEO of Haptik, spoke about the Digital India initiative on the occasion of the completion of one year of 'MyGov Corona Helpdesk'. During the conversation, he said that this service has become an important place for users. Aakrit Vaish was also joined by MyGov CEO Abhishek Singh and WhatsApp Public Policy Director Shivnath Thukral. While discussing 'MyGov Corona Helpdesk', Shivnath said that last year has been a learning for all of us and during the course of time technology has been very supportive.

Aakrit Vaish: How did the idea of the WhatsApp chatbot come? That too when Coronavirus reached its peak in the country. The most important thing is that this service was prepared in only 5 days. What challenges were faced while creating this chatbot?

Abhishek Singh: If you look at February last year, the government had started disseminating the information about Coronavirus to the people. Efforts were being made to make people aware of several social media platforms. During this time we came up with the idea of a WhatsApp chatbot so that more people can be connected. After this, we got the first WhatsApp chatbot call on March 13. After this, it was our endeavour to provide information related to corona and answers to their questions. Initially, this service was available only in English but on March 23, it was also started in Hindi. The special thing is that the userbase of this service reached 10 million in just 7 days. And today the userbase has grown to 30 million.

Aakrit Vaish: WhatsApp and Facebook are popular among the users but they are used for connecting with people as well as for business. In such a situation, to start the WhatsApp chatbot, it also had to upgrade the features. Because the government was figuring out how to connect with people through WhatsApp. So how did the API work during the process?

Shivnath Thukral: Our team was fully prepared for this task. It was a big step that the government was going to connect with the people and how to make it easy and convenient. We did a lot of work on the API and made this service available in English and Hindi. Chatbot became popular among the users in such a way that it was started for health and education in a short time.

Aakrit Vaish: During the Corona period, many fake and wrong information was also being spread on social media platforms, even many fake websites came out. So how was it managed?

Abhishek Singh: Today users are very much aware of fake websites. Talking about the chatbot, you will not get any wrong information of any kind here. Here you only have to message a 'hi' and will be able to start a chat. At the same time, Shivnath told that it was a big challenge to stop fake information related to Coronavirus. But this type of problem was not encountered on the WhatsApp chatbot.

Aakrit Vaish: Are people also being given vaccine information through a chatbot?

Abhishek Singh: Yes, people are asking many questions related to the vaccine on the WhatsApp chatbot. So, our effort is to provide them with the right information. We are also providing them with a link to the CoWin portal. Indeed, with the help of AI, this task has become much easier.

Aakrit Vaish: Now the private sector is also getting inclined towards AI-based chatbot. Private companies are thinking of introducing this service to provide better service to their customers. How can it work in the private sector?

Abhishek Singh: For this, you have to keep simple content and simple information. At the same time, the most important thing is that if you make it available in the local language of the area where you are planning to start a chatbot, then the result will be better and more and more people will be able to connect with it.

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan