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BENGALURU : IBM is offering its AI platform ‘Watson Assistant for Citizens’ free of cost for at least 90 days, which will provide reliable information on covid-19 related queries, it said Thursday.

With a flood of information requests from citizens, waiting time in many areas to receive answers can exceed two hours, the company said.

The platform that brings together Watson Assistant, Natural Language Processing, and AI search capabilities, that help in understanding and responding to common questions about coronavirus.

“In these challenging times, it is critical to offer accurate information to all constituents and hence a clear opportunity to apply AI to quickly answer common questions at a very large scale. 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 centres where human agents are needed to help those who truly need them," said Gargi Dasgupta, director of IBM Research India and CTO, IBM India & South Asia.

“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 added.

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

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 solutions 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 is already delivering this service across the US, as well as engaging with organisations globally in Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and others. The initial solution is available in English and is being tailored to include Indian languages as well such as Hindi.

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