IBM develops virtual assistant for Seoul citizens

  • September 2, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

IBM is collaborating with the city of Seoul in South Korea to develop an AI-based virtual assistant for its citizens using IBM Watson.

The virtual assistant is part of the city’s I Care You project, which is designed to survey the changes to daily life and difficulties that citizens are experiencing due to Covid-19 to help inform policy decisions. The project is using IBM Watson Assistant running on IBM public cloud.

Covid-19 is changing what normal means for customers, citizens, businesses, government agencies and healthcare organisations all over the world.

“Through this survey using an AI-based virtual assistant, we have an opportunity to understand the situation and social problems of citizens due to Covid-19,” said Seon-Ae Jeong, director-general of Seoul Innovation. “This collaboration with IBM is a meaningful example of a public-private partnership. In the future, the results will be utilised to help develop various policies in Seoul city.”

Seoul’s AI-based virtual assistant will survey citizens and then perform categorisation and analysis of the gathered information to help policymakers. The survey contains questions about the changes caused by Covid-19, such as changes in health, problems with social isolation or environmental factors leading to vulnerabilities. It also asks about the difficulties caused by overall changes in daily life patterns such as eating habits, free time and social interaction, and those caused by institutional policies.

The survey is being carried out through the web site of the city of Seoul as well as its social media channels. Any citizen living in the city is eligible to take part in the survey.

IBM South Korea worked with Seoul throughout the entire process from training and development of the virtual assistant to collecting citizen opinions, analysis and service planning to make the I Care You project available for use in just three weeks.

The virtual assistant, which is hosted on IBM public cloud, is developed with Watson Assistant for virtual agents and uses the enterprise AI search capabilities of IBM Watson Discovery to perform categorisation and analysis of the gathered information.

The city of Seoul is the latest organisation to use IBM Watson Assistant to manage the high volume of engagement with citizens, using it to communicate changes and collect opinions, and provide insights to foster safety, and work smart throughout the pandemic. IBM Watson Assistant has been used in 25 countries to help manage Covid-19 response.