When Store Finder PH’s map website went live on March 19, 2020 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 technology, the volunteer-initiated website is able to make its key content available on Facebook Messenger through a chatbot, 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, users should open the project’s Facebook messenger. After tapping Get Started, they 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.
Award-winning information and communication technology (ICT) advocate Trinmar Boado, the leader of the volunteer project, said 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. He shared, “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.”
On Store Finder PH’s website version at http://www.storefinder.ph, users can see the map of their neighborhood and the exact location of open establishments and they can also chat with other active users within the vicinity to seek any assistance during emergencies. To start using the Store Finder PH chatbot, open m.me/StoreFinder.PH or fb.com/StoreFinder.PH now.