When Store Finder PH’s map website went live on March 19 to help locate nearby establishments that are open during the COVID-19 community quarantine, families with no internet connection seem left behind.
However with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, the volunteer-initiated website is able to make its key content available on Facebook Messenger through a chatbot. A chatbot is a computer robot that replies to messages like a human being.
Currently, Facebook Messenger can be used even without a mobile data plan as part of the basic service of Smart, Globe, and affiliate providers, making the store finding-chatbot accessible to more than 44 million phone internet users in the Philippines at no extra cost.
Store Finder PH named its chatbot “Crowdy” to signify the project’s crowd-sourcing nature of collecting information. To use the chatbot, the user should open the project’s Facebook messenger.
After tapping “Get Started”, the user may pick the establishment category and type a location that the chatbot will scan through. A list of search results including grocery shops, restaurants, pharmacies, banks, ATM centers, remittance centers, logistic hubs, and other essential stores is then displayed within seconds.
Although the map feature is disabled when on free mobile data, crucial information including business hours are still delivered in text format.
“Our main contribution as millenials to the Enhanced Community Quarantine measure of the government is making tech solutions and life-saving information reach the doorsteps of every Filipino,” said Trinmar Boado, an award-winning Information and Communication Technology (ICT) advocate and leader of the volunteer project.
He added the chatbot is getting a high volume of query for remittance centers, explaining this must be from parents of stranded students and other individuals sending out financial help.
On Store Finder PH’s website version at www.storefinder.ph, users can see the map of their neighborhood and the exact location of open establishments. They can also chat with other active users within the vicinity to seek any assistance during emergencies.