In focus: Mumbai-based Haptik which developed India’s official WhatsApp chatbot for Covid-19
The Indian government last month launched a WhatsApp chatbot "MyGov Corona Helpdesk" to help users get credible information about the Covid-19 pandemic. Since its debut on March 20, the chatbot has been used by over 21 million users and has registered over 30 million conversations.
The chatbot has been developed by a Mumbai-based startup called 'Haptik'. Founded in 2013, the company is known for its enterprise conversational AI platform. In April last year, Reliance Jio had acquired a majority stake in the firm for about ₹700 crore.
Swapan Rajdev, one of the co-founders and CTO, says that the "MyGov Corona Helpdesk" is one of the most used chatbots Haptik has ever implemented. He also pointed out the company's ability to handle the scale of users coming onto the platform. He stressed that the chatbot shows how impactful the technology can be.
On being asked about the possible load on the chatbot and its efficiency due to millions of users accessing it, Rajdev explained, "… as a technology company and our tech teams have been working very hard to make sure the platform runs interrupted."
Partnership with government
Rajdev also revealed how the company came into the picture for building an automated help desk for Indian users.
He said that the partnership with the Indian government began earlier this year when the latter wanted to develop a helpdesk on WhatsApp, which happens to be the most popular instant messaging platform in the country.
The Government has created WhatsApp Chatbot on Corona.— NPPA~India🇮🇳 (@nppa_india) March 20, 2020
It is called MyGov Corona Helpdesk.
Just save on WhatsApp 9013151515 and you will get automated response on queries related to Corona.
Haptik built a brand-new bot for the official helpdesk from the government and didn't use the older one it had built earlier. The official helpdesk sourced all the information from the government. Rajdev said the purpose of the chatbot was to provide fact-based information to users and curb misinformation circulating around the pandemic.
Haptik said its chatbot has been used by over 21 million users so far and more users are coming in every day. However, the company did not disclose the average time spent on the bot.
When asked about the availability of chatbots in Indian languages other than Hindi, Rajdev said that the data set required for these languages aren't "readily available" compared to popular ones.
"We call them high resource languages and low resource languages. So, the highest resource language has a lot of data that can be implemented easily. For the low resource languages, it becomes harder and harder," he explained.
"One of the challenges for India is mixing of languages. People use words in English and mix them up and then try to converse. So, it's not about whether this can support one language but also being cognizant of other languages that can be mixed in a conversation. Such complexities make it harder," he added.
Rajdev said Haptik in talks with different companies including large enterprises and state governments to provide similar services.
"It could be the state governments, it could be other businesses who probably want to scale up during this time," he added without explicitly naming the future partners.