The City of Turku is launching an artificial intelligence-based advice bot for spreading awareness of coronavirus guidelines. On Tuesday 29 September at 9 am, the application will become available for local residents.

The City of Turku is launching an artificial intelligence-based advice bot for spreading awareness of coronavirus guidelines. Named Åbot, the purpose of the advice bot is to ensure that the City of Turku’s current coronavirus guidelines are accessible in all of the most notable languages used in Turku.  

11% of the population of Turku speak something other than Finnish or Swedish as their mother tongue, and nearly 120 different languages are spoken in the region of Southwest Finland. In order for measures to control the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to succeed, it is imperative for these people to have access to the same up-to-date information and guidelines as the Finnish-speaking population. However, coronavirus guidelines change rapidly, and real-time translation into so many languages is impracticable. 

This is why in September 2020 the City of Turku is launching a pilot project for the artificial intelligence-based Åbot advice bot, which will allow users to search for information in nearly a hundred languages. The service interprets free-form questions posed in each included language and searches for answers to them in accordance with official guidelines.   

The application is backed by information provided by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and city-specific data produced by the City of Turku Welfare Division. Later stages of the pilot project will involve looking into the possibility of expanding the advice provided to cover the entire region of Southwest Finland.

The application has been tested and its use has been taught over September. On Tuesday 29 September at 9 am, the application will become available for local residents. 

Users pose their questions to the artificial intelligence application anonymously, and the application does not store any data based on which the user could be identified. The questions posed are stored anonymously in a database for a fixed period. The data is not used for profiling or identification but can be used to develop the artificial intelligence of the application. 

The Åbot advice bot will open automatically on the front page of the turku.fi website for all users, similarly to commonly used chat services. The bot can also be used directly at https://covid.neuvola.com/turku.  

The City of Turku commissioned the artificial intelligence application from Neuvo Oy Global. The order covers an initial period of four months, during which a decision will be made based on experiences on whether to continue the order.