Introbot, an AI community manager, was founded in early 2021 by Utkarsh Roy and Divyaansh Anuj. Divyaansh, a BITS Pilani alumnus and founder of Dextra, and Utkarsh, a Stanford & University of Toronto alumnus and the founder of Ohwow! (Techstars ‘20) built Introbot with the mission of connecting communities with each other to meet their business needs and make them more efficient. The objective was to create a central intelligence that connects communities and disseminates information using conversational AI.
With India reeling under the COVID crisis and people struggling to find hospital beds, oxygen, etc., Utkarsh and Divyaansh felt a need to make their bot solve these pain points and hence, repurposed it to provide authentic, verified, real-time information on the availability of resources and other queries around COVID-19. Utkarsh says "There were a lot of forwards and wrong information being floated around the availability of beds, oxygen supply, and such; it was distressing to see the angst, helplessness and deaths as people struggled to find the required resources. We wanted to provide authentic and verified information, and remove the supply bottlenecks to ease people's lives and give them hope. We partnered with 15+ initiatives and 350+ volunteers across the country to aid us in our mission".
Introbot provides instant, real-time and verified medical resources & information through Whatsapp. They collaborated with Covid Citizens, a community-led initiative comprising multiple partners from Fireside, Wakefit, NowFloats, Accio, Digital Futurists, United for Social Impact, The Product Folks and others and work with 350-plus volunteers who manually feed and update the data on to the system. Introbot and Covid Citizens have built one of India’s largest COVID-19-related medical supply databases with over 30,000 entries on oxygen cylinders/refills, plasma, hospitals, doctors, beds, ambulance services, meals, amongst other things.
The collection and verification of data is done by a combination of humans and technology on a 24*7 real-time basis. Incorrect and fraudulent information is distilled from the system by the team. Using a 3-tiered process, pan-India information is crowdsourced by volunteers, manually verified at the first-level and then checked for availability on a real-time basis by the bot. Introbot dynamically load-balances the supply-demand process so that a single supplier is not overwhelmed with multiple calls. On the supplier side, data cleansing is important and an algorithm is used for this purpose which matches the supply and demand feed. All relevant and verified data is stored in its central database and then fed to the algorithm.
How does one access this COVID WhatsApp bot?
Access to information is pretty simple and straightforward, and there is no registration needed. One simply needs to WhatsApp the word ‘COVID’ to +1(234)-517-8991. After the bot's acknowledgement, the sender simply needs to type the requirement in an "X in Y" format, for example, oxygen cylinders in Bangalore or ICU beds in Delhi, and such. The bot responds instantly with verified leads/suppliers with details on the time the lead was last verified. Once the lead is made available, the bot seeks feedback on whether the same was helpful, responsive or invalid. Based on the feedback of the user, the database is updated instantly. Introbot claims to have responded to over five lakh-plus COVID-19-related queries and positively impacted over 25,000 lives.