Submission Theme

Business and Economy - Local Businesses


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

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
  • Used Amazon AWS Lambda to host the chatbot

Challenges We ran into

  • Getting user location data
  • 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 continue implementing the bot on different platforms. Given some funding we can use different platforms to extend the messenger bot on Amazon, Google, and Apple. We have begun extending it to different platforms and plan to finish in the next couple weeks.
  • We also can utilize paid APIs from Google to help recommendation system to add businesses based on localized features, specific business contact information, and even add non-profits to the application using similar flows but different APIs and options to donate. We are able to implement within the next one to two months.
  • We also want to onboard some local businesses and implement a reviewing system and use crowd-sourced data to enhance recommendation. This phase will begin within three to four months.

Built With

Share this project: