Government launches 'chatbot' to answer coronavirus crisis queries ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Suve the chatbot.
Suve the chatbot. Source: https://eebot.ee/

Several government agency websites now have Suve, an automated chatbot, which provides answers to frequently asked questions about the emergency situation and the coronavirus. The chatbot provides answers to questions in Estonian and English and uses information from government agencies.

Marten Kaevats, Adviser of the Strategy Unit of the Government Office, said correct and up-to-date information is critically important in the current emergency situation.

"The chatbot offers a new way to get information on changes that affect us all in terms of life-planning and also helps to relieve the burden on different hotlines. Suve the chatbot can still be compared to a young puppy who is yet to learn all the tricks, but dozens of volunteers are working to improve it," said Kaevats.

The idea to create Suve came about thanks to Hack the Crisis, a hackaton organised by the Estonian startup community, Garage 48, and Accelerate Estonia.

Michaela Snopkova, one of the creators of Suve said: "The idea of a nationwide chatbot service circulated even before the crisis, but the hackathon enabled us to quickly put the idea into action, and hopefully, it will reduce the burden on hotlines."

As a consultant to foreign specialists, she has noticed that people often have questions that do not require personal consultation, but rather they need to be directed to the right information.

"There is no need to call the family doctor hotline to ask if it is possible to travel to Finland or to get information about the certificate for incapacity to work. Suve will find answers to these questions. This will ensure that those who have symptoms of the coronavirus or some other illness and need prompt and personal counselling could quickly reach a doctor," said Snopkova.

Suve the chatbot has already been added to many websites. Through active use, the chatbot can learn and answer questions more accurately. Thanks to the work contributed by volunteers, the chatbot can soon speak in Russian as well. In addition, Suve collects and transmits unanswered user questions to editors, which helps to develop the chatbot.

All volunteers are welcome to contribute to the development of the chatbot. If you are a data entry clerk, translator, or editor and wish to contribute, please visit https://eebot.ee/en/. The website also provides additional information for institutions and companies that wish to embed the chatbot to their website.

Relevant information about the emergency situation will continue to be available on the government's emergency situation website and by calling the emergency hotline 1247.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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