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Home / India News / Coronavirus Update: Indian High Commission in Canada deploys chatbot to answer queries on Covid-19

Coronavirus Update: Indian High Commission in Canada deploys chatbot to answer queries on Covid-19

The ability to quickly respond to the frantic questions relating to Covid-19, public safety measures taken in India and Canada and restrictions on international travel, has become particularly critical given the impact the pandemic has had, especially with nearly 1.6 million persons of Indian-origin living in Canada.

india Updated: Mar 26, 2020 10:45 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharya
Anirudh Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
The effort behind launching the chatbot was because the Indian High Commission “wanted to create a service that can assist people in this emergency”.
The effort behind launching the chatbot was because the Indian High Commission “wanted to create a service that can assist people in this emergency”.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Given the deluge of queries coming in from Indians and those of Indian origin in Canada, the Indian High Commission in the country has deployed cutting-edge IT tool in the form of a chatbot to address concerns over the Covid-19 crisis.

The chatbot, called CANbot, has natural language conversation capabilities in English, Hindi and Punjabi and allows those seeking answers urgently to get them “safely and securely”, either through a chat function on the High Commission’s website or on a dedicated WhatsApp number.

The ability to quickly respond to the frantic questions relating to Covid-19, public safety measures taken in India and Canada and restrictions on international travel, has become particularly critical given the impact the pandemic has had, especially with nearly 1.6 million persons of Indian-origin living in Canada.

Among them are nearly 200,000 Indian students at Canadian colleges and universities, and since such institutions have closed, there have been concerns about this matter among their families in India, not to mention the issue of flying them back at a time when flights between the two nations are non-existent for the time being. This move comes even as the foreign ministers of the two countries discussed ways of dealing with the crisis of nationals seeking to return home.

The effort behind launching the chatbot was because the High Commission “wanted to create a service that can assist people in this emergency,” India’s envoy to Ottawa Ajay Bisaria said. The High Commission as well as the Indian consulates in Toronto and Vancouver have witnessed “a massive surge in queries received due to the situation arising from Covid-19 pandemic, including the disruption in international travel.” Bisaria said, “We empathize with people’s concerns in these troubled times and the need to receive immediate and accurate information wherever they are.”

The bot has been developed for the High Commission of India by the Indian conversational platform Verloop.io and home healthcare company Portea Medical.