Inspiration

In recent months, the pandemic forced governments all around the world to take drastic measures in an attempt to contain the outbreak. This resulted in disruptions to the lives of many people. In online groups, I often find people asking similar questions about new laws, new developments, statistics and contact information. While such information is not more than a search away, it seems far for natural to ask a naturally structured question and for a human to reply with a link or abbreviated information. I created this chatbot as an attempt to provide a natural way of keeping one updated with the evolving situation.

What it does

The answers questions presented by the user with either structured information, like statistics and analytics, or provide links to reputable sources.

How I built it

I build the chatbot with Facebook Messenger as the chat interface, Wit.AI to discern the intent of the user. Information is then pulled from public information APIs and presented to users in the form of a natural sentence.

Challenges I ran into

Sometimes, there's just so many ways to say the same thing! Even with the help of Wit.AI, it's not always easy to get the intent of a sentence correct.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I've learnt and built stuff with NodeJS. A completely new language to me before the start of this hackathon.

What I learned

While I still can't say that I'm an expert with Javascript and modern web technologies, I can now build functional web apps.

What's next for COVID InfoBot

Currently, this bot relies heavily on a single API, coronatracker.com, for the majority of its information, and is mostly limited to single questions with no follow-up. Handling follow-up messages to refine the answers is the next obvious step.I'll continue to add more information sources and also provide answers to more complex queries.

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