In the Chicago area, where we grew up, many local businesses have struggled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of ordering fast food, our bot gives people an easy way to discover local restaurants, salons, and other facilities. With this conversational AI we hope to combat the economic despair America is facing.

What it does

Many local businesses lack name-recognition to potential customers. Additionally, many people want to support local businesses, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A user can ask the Plaza chatbot for local businesses in a specific market to find and support.

  • Our bot uses natural language processing and parts-of-speech identification to recognize any names given by the user. Similar processing is used for other user inputs.
  • The user can enter any words specific to the business they are trying to find along with location. The Plaza bot can take any U.S. city and find businesses in the area
  • Using Google API, our bot finds local businesses that fit our users’ criteria of location, the business’s hours, and rating
  • Our bot also uses “quick replies” to give more input options

How We built it

  • We used Node.js for backend development
  • We implemented natural language processing to recognize and interpret user inputs
  • Google API was used to find local businesses based on input criteria
  • Jovo was used for framework architecture

Challenges We ran into

  • Implementing quick replies
  • There was no existing API that could filter local businesses so we came up with a series of API calls and data parsed that information to come up with local businesses

Accomplishments that We're proud of

  • Creating a successful chatbot and implementing several components
  • Supporting local businesses in a time of need
  • Helping people discover new businesses/restaurants
  • Creating a system of data persistence wherein the application remembers the user

What We learned

  • We learned how to use natural language processing to recognize user inputs
  • We learned how to implement APIs into our framework

What's next for Plaza

  • We hope to add a review function to allow our users to provide feedback on local businesses
  • After enough businesses are reviewed, we would add this data to the bot’s framework and use it for future suggestions to our users

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