In Latvia answers to questions about Covid-19 are provided by artificial intelligence

Language technologies
In Latvia answers to questions about Covid-19 are provided by artificial intelligence

During the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital to provide the public with convenient and fast access to trustworthy information. During March 2020 work began on the first and to date only chatbot in Latvia, which provides the public with 24 hour access to trustworthy information about Covid-19. 


All the latest information about the Coronavirus pandemic in one place

The artificial intelligence solution provides current and verified information at any time of the day or night about subject of relevance to various users, e.g. the latest regional, national and international illness statistics, contact persons and information hotline numbers, information about the virus, border crossing, the nearest analysis delivery points and how to act in various situations.

In order to make it simpler for users to consume information, particular attention was paid to information visualization using infographics, tables, images and videos, etc. The answers provided by the Virtual assistant Covidbot are short. If the answer to the user’s question requires a more detailed explanation, they include hyperlinks to the relevant internet sources.

The Covidbot has become a trustworthy aid to the public

Right from its first working day, the virtual assistant has become a trustworthy aid to the Latvian public, sending over 55,000 useful messages over a nine month period and helping over 20,000 people, who are seeking answers to important questions about the virus. Tilde’s Business Development Director Kaspars Kauliņš believes that this social initiative has helped everyone:

Tilde has received positive feedback not only from the public, but also from municipalities and many non-governmental organizations, because the virtual assistant has reduced the workload of employees responsible for communicating and supporting the public. In turn for us at Tilde, this is a special and significant opportunity to engage and use our knowledge and world-class technologies to help the State and our fellow citizens during this crisis.

Maintaining and improving the Chatbot requires regular and systematic work 

According to language resource specialist Madara Mieriņa, the virtual assistance is merely the visible part of the iceberg ― parallel to their daily job duties, over a nine month period Tilde’s team has maintained and updated this social initiative so that the Latvian public receives only the latest and most relevant information in a clear and simple way:

“Since users tend to ask questions very differently even in regard to one subject, there must be at least five sample questions for each such purpose so that the algorithm learns to recognize and identify the user’s requirement. Regarding Covid-19, the virtual assistant is also unique, because the information in answers changes in line with the statistics regarding the spread of the virus. Therefore Tilde regularly updates the chatbot’s knowledge base and takes care to ensure that answers provided to users can be clearly understood and are augmented with simple images, graphs, video materials and up to date links. This process is time-consuming but vital in order for the virtual assistant to help the public by providing trustworthy and up to date information.”

Covidbot wins the ICT industry annual award

Tilde’s social initiative — Covidbot (a virtual assistant providing trustworthy information about Covid-19) — won 1st place in the Latvian Information and Communication Technology Association’s (LICTA) Annual Awards “Platīna pele 2020” in the category “Artificial Intelligence Solution — for the Public and Business”.

The original version of the virtual assistant was developed in collaboration with Tet.