The Government and the Generalitat de Catalunya set up their own channels of consultation on COVID-19 through WhatsApp
The Government and the Generalitat de Catalunya have set up their own conversation assistants that work through WhatsApp. These are automatic consultation channels that use artificial intelligence and natural language to respond to citizens concerns about COVID-19 with official, precise and updated information.
The system, originally tested in La Rioja and later extended nationally, has more than 200 questions that can be asked in 1,000 different ways. It uses information from sources from the Ministry of Health and other official bodies regarding symptoms of the disease, prevention measures, information for protection, current figures, contact phone numbers, etc.
The aim of this WhatsApp bot is to “reduce the pressure on the health hotline“. “In moments like these, it is necessary to have technological tools that offer official and reliable information to citizens at all times,” said Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence.
In order to be able to use the WhatsApp bot, the number +34 600 802 802 must be saved in the phone contacts. Once we have added this phone number, as if it were a normal contact, we will be able to open a conversation and say hello. The bot will automatically answer introducing itself and offering information.
In addition, we have had the collaboration of the ONCE Foundation, which has carried out an evaluation of the tool and has offered recommendations that have been integrated into Hispabot-Covid19 to guarantee its accessibility.
This tool for resolving doubts via WhatsApp joins Asistencia COVID-19, the official website and app for self-diagnosis and information on the disease, which is now available in six autonomous communities.
What kind of information can we ask Hispabot
Once we greet the chatbot, it replies with the last date of information update. This is not a concern either, as most of the information is usually sent through links, so these are the ones that offer the updated information.
The first question we recommend to ask is “what can you do? Here you will find a series of recommendations that range from talking about symptoms, figures, when to go to the emergency room, issues related to isolation, how to wash your hands or what the alarm state is, among others.
For example, we can tell him that “our throat hurts” and he will answer us about the symptoms of the disease. If we decide to ask him about “how many infections are there in Barcelona” he will not give us the exact figure, but he will link us to the official data pages.
Catalonia is not far behind
The Generalitat de Catalunya has created a ‘bot’ that gives “official and true” information about the Covid-19 by WhatsApp. The ‘bot’ shares content on health and civil protection, “such as data on those affected, advices, confinement measures” and information on the evolution of the pandemic free of charge.
The aim of this new service, launched with the Regional Ministry of Health and developed with Hubtype, is to make official information available to citizens, especially those who “traditionally do not receive public information”. It also aims to help combat misinformation and the viralisation of fake news on instant messaging platforms by providing information from official sources.
The user must access https://gen.cat/whatsapp or add the number +34681012012 to his contact list to activate the “bot”; then, a conversation must be started by sending the word ‘Hello’ to the chat.