In order to help government agencies, academic institutions and healthcare organizations handle the influx of calls and messages regarding the coronavirus, IBM has announced that it will provide a bundle of Watson services for free.
The company will combine Watson Assistant, which uses IBM Research's natural language processing technology, with Watson Discovery to create IBM Watson Assistant for Citizens. The new Watson suite will be available online and on smartphones and will be free for at least 90 days.
According to IBM, wait times for coronavirus-related questions are exceeding two hours, so the company believes that using AI via Watson may be able to help speed up response times.
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In a press release, general manager of IBM data and AI, Rob Thomas explained how AI can be used to get critical information out to citizens, saying:
"While helping government agencies and healthcare institutions use AI to get critical information out to their citizens remains a high priority right now, the current environment has made it clear that every business in every industry should find ways to digitally engage with their clients and employees. With today's news, IBM is taking years of experience in helping thousands of global businesses and institutions use Natural Language Processing and other advanced AI technologies to better meet the demands of their constituents, and now applying it to the COVID-19 crisis. AI has the power to be your assistant during this uncertain time."
Watson Assistant for Citizens
Watson Assistant for Citizens is available on IBM's public cloud and the digital assistant ingests data from a number of sources including the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention as well as local authorities such as states, cities and school districts.
The new service will be available in English, Spanish and 11 other languages and will come with 15 pre-trained coronavirus intents.
The Watson services are available in the US but they have also been used in the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK.
Some of the organizations using Watson Assistant for Citizens include the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, County of Ostego in New York, City of Austin in Texas, the UK National Health Service Wales and the Polish Ministry of Health.
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