During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation was volatile and rapidly evolving. This meant that the guidelines and measures from multiple government agencies were constantly updated and revised. As a result, individuals and businesses found it difficult to keep up with the latest information and it was taxing for them to gather information from multiple agencies.
To help the public find relevant information from across government agencies, the Singapore Government developed three COVID-19 ChatBots, two of which are for individuals and one for businesses.
What are COVID-19 ChatBots?
The COVID-19 ChatBots provide timely and accurate answers to citizens based on their programmed knowledge base. This knowledge base is developed from past user enquiries as well as frequently asked questions prescribed by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI). The ChatBots also help to disseminate relevant policy guidelines when needed.
The three COVID-19 ChatBots are as shown below.
The COVID-19 Info Bot is a web-based ChatBot that provides information on various topics such as the latest social distancing measures, travel restrictions, and medical advice. The COVID-19 Info Bot currently only supports English.
The second COVID-19 ChatBot developed for the public, Gov.sg, is hosted on WhatsApp. Gov.sg provides daily COVID-19 updates and disseminates key government announcements such as budgets and National Day Rallies. Gov.sg also issues clarifications on fake news regarding government policies. Gov.sg is available in English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil languages.
The third COVID-19 ChatBot, the COVID-19 Chat for Biz, was developed for businesses. This chatbot addresses business-related enquiries and provides information relevant for businesses, such as budget details.
Why Should the COVID-19 ChatBots be Adopted?
The constantly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic means that existing rules and announcements are likely to change quickly and frequently. The COVID-19 ChatBots helps the public and businesses keep up with the latest information. Furthermore, the announcements and information provided by the COVID-19 ChatBots are reliable, which is important in preventing the spread of misinformation.
How Do You Use COVID-19 ChatBots?
To use the COVID-19 Info Bot, follow this link, then click on the icon on the bottom right to engage the ChatBot.
To enable Gov.sg on WhatsApp, please fill in this form.
To use the COVID-19 Chat for Biz, simply click here.
Since the start of the pandemic, many fake news items have been shared widely on social media and messaging platforms, leading to much confusion and misinformation among the public. For example, on 28 January 2020, several Facebook posts claimed that Woodlands MRT was closed for disinfection. On the same day, Gov.sg issued a clarification, stating that Woodlands MRT was not closed on 28 Jan 2020, and that it was fully operational. Such clarifications help minimise the harmful impacts of fake news.
With the success of the COVID-19 ChatBots, the team is looking to expand the project to become a one-stop-shop where individuals and businesses can find answers to their government-related queries.
There are also plans for the COVID-19 ChatBots to move beyond text by adding voice input options.
For enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated 24 February 2022
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