India witnessed four lakh COVID-19 cases for consecutive four days. While a lot of private and community-based organizations and volunteers are trying to help people in finding oxygen cylinders, plasma, hospital beds and ventilators, there are still a lot of queries and requirements floating every day on Twitter.
To help people with their queries and fight COVID-19 in their own way, a Mumbai based company came up with their own personalized WhatsApp chatbot that helps people in finding real-time data and information.
Machadalo is a brand owned by Vijaikirti Technologies Pvt Ltd. It’s an IT company HQ in Mumbai specializing in building products and solutions for hyperlocal communities. They have built a campaign management platform that caters to advertising and lead generation in micro-communities. They are also into indirect supply chain management solutions for residential societies and corporates.
Recently, they have built a WhatsApp-based chatbot, Machadalo Education Assistant (MEA), to map the interests of students and then provide them with curated online content.
“As we were experimenting with technology to strengthen the capabilities of our WhatsApp chatbot, we realized that out there is a pandemic which is growing at an alarming rate. Around 24th April 2021, we had an internal team meeting, and we decided that we all have to do something for the people suffering because of COVID-19. Based on our Pan India network with residential societies and our chatbot capabilities, we decided to build a COVID-19 helpdesk cum a WhatsApp based virtual chatbot,” says Anupam Sorabh, the founder.
The motive was purely to provide solutions and not just information to affected people under 30 minutes.
How does it work?
The COVID-19 helpdesk is very simple to use. One can just save the number +91 72088 80208 on WhatsApp and send ‘Hi’ to start the chat session. The bot provides the user with a menu from which a particular category could be chosen. One can select the city to find the latest updated information for a particular query.
For example: If a user wants to know about the latest availability of beds, s/he can type ‘B’, select the state, say Madhya Pradesh, by typing ‘D’ and can get the web URL, which will show the latest availability of hospital beds.
If a user finds it difficult to use, s/he can connect with a volunteer by typing ‘V’ and then by selecting the state and the city he wants to know the information about. There is a special feature that works for all Indian cities, i.e., by typing ‘T’, one can get all the relevant Twitter feeds in real-time for the latest available stock.
“We want to help affected people with solutions which might save lives and reduce the mental trauma of the near and dear ones,” Anupam continues. “We are getting so much positive feedback every day from both directly affected people and those who want to keep verified information at hand. People are also approaching us to work as a volunteer.”
The COVID-19 helpdesk is developed by an alumnus of NITIE/ NITs and backend technology of Machadalo Platform. With more than 100 active volunteers across India, the team has information of 13500+ verified suppliers.
On asking about the further plans, Anupam says, “we want to tackle the problem of optimizing the entire supply chain, i.e., to provide real-time solutions as and when the real need arises. Currently, what we have achieved is very little, and COVID-19 has already started affecting villages and semi-urban areas drastically. We are now adding more volunteers to our team to make the work smooth. We are also starting to book residential societies for vaccination drives.”
It will take a lot of time and effort for the Machadalo team to reach every village, but they believe this is the least what they can do.
Who thought a small team meeting would turn into a big initiative and will start impacting so many people.
“Save this number, share save lives: +91 72088 80208. Follow the COVID-19 protocol strictly and help in whatever way you can,” Anupam ends with a small but important message.
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