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IBM trains ‘Watson Assistant for Citizens’ to answer COVID-19 queries

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Bengaluru, April 2 (IANS) With misinformation about novel coronavirus posing a major threat in fight against the pandemic, technology giant IBM on Thursday said it has trained its Artificial intelligence-powered virtual agent ‘Watson Assistant for Citizens’ to answer common queries about COVID-19.

‘Watson Assistant for Citizens’ leverages currently available data from external sources which include the Union Health Ministry and other government sources for prevention and treatment related guidance, citizen welfare schemes in India, as well as global resources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), IBM said in a statement.

“IBM developed the ‘Watson Assistant for Citizens’ to provide an AI-powered virtual agent that helps governments deliver accurate information to their citizens without overwhelming contact centers where human agents are needed to help those who truly need them,” Gargi Dasgupta, Director, IBM Research India and CTO IBM India/South Asia, said in a statement.

“To introduce this offering in India, IBM Research has trained Watson Assistant to answer queries in English and Hindi to enable various Government agencies and Departments to offer this service to its constituents,” Dasgupta said.

Using information provided by clients, Watson Assistant for Citizens automates responses to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 that come in via text, such as “What are its symptoms?,” “How do I clean my home properly?” and “How do I protect myself?”

State and local government agencies, hospitals or other healthcare organisations can choose to customise the solution to address citizen questions specific to their area or region, including “How many cases till date in Mumbai?,” “Which essential services are open during lockdown?,” and “Where can I get tested in Bangalore?”

IBM said it is offering Watson Assistant for Citizens for no charge for at least 90 days and will assist with initial set up, which can typically be done in a few days.

The initial solution is available in English and is being tailored to include Indian languages as well such as Hindi, the company said.

IBM already is delivering this service across the US, as well as engaging with organizations globally in Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and more.



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