At the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, the government of India looked at WhatsApp and sought to exploit its reach and benefits to create awareness about the new viral threat, while urging social media services to crack down on the spread of fake news and misinformation on their platforms. Called MyGov Corona Helpdesk, citizens were told that they can use this to get instant and genuine answers to all their coronavirus queries. It was developed by artificial intelligence-focussed start-up Haptik and was made available to all WhatsApp users for free in English and Hindi languages. Today, this Whatsapp chatbot has crossed 30 million users in India, according to a senior government official.
MyGov Corona Helpdesk: One year later
Abhishek Singh, CEO of MyGov and Digital India, during a virtual conference said he had first call with Haptik for the chatbot on March 13, 2020, and the service was launched in 5-6 days after approval from the Health Ministry. Now, one year down the line, this MyGov Corona Helpdesk has evolved into a vaccination interactive system and is also giving key information about Co-WIN. Singh congratulated Team MyGov, Haptik, the government’s technical partner, and the WhatsApp team on completion of one year of MyGov Corona Helpdesk saying that the labour of collective hard work has resulted in 3.15 crore users. He said that there was a surge in number of users after Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared information about the service during his public interaction.
How to use the helpline
To contact the helpline, citizens were required to save the WhatsApp number 91 9013151515 on their phones, and then start a chat by typing “Hi” and sending it to the number. This prompted them to either type in a query or choose from a list of frequently asked questions. Depending on the question, users were provided verified and real-time information in the form of a video, infographic or text.
Helpline helps citizens get through tough times
“The MyGov COVID-19 helpline has helped more than 3 crore Indian citizens get instant answers to their most pressing questions about the biggest pandemic of our times. “We are honoured MyGov and Facebook selected us as the technology partner for this effort, and the last year has been one of the most rewarding experiences for team Haptik, which makes all of what we do totally worth it,” Aakrit Vaish, co-founder and CEO of Haptiks, said.
Surging cases highlights importance of this helpline
COVID-19 infections have shown a significant surge in recent days. According to data available at Aarogya Setu app, there were 3.45 lakh active cases in India as on March 23. The MyGov Corona Helpdesk chatbot has processed over 4.5 crore conversations on WhatsApp from users across the country with more than 6.7 crore messages have been sent, since its launch.
(With inputs from PTI)
Published : March 25, 2021 11:11 am