Alexa Brings Localized COVID-19 Vaccination Sites and Information to India
People in India can now ask Alexa to locate their nearest COVID-19 vaccination and testing site as part of a major update to the voice assistant’s knowledge regarding the coronavirus. Amazon has expanded Alexa’s information and features around COVID-19 in India four months after adding similar tools to Alexa in the U.S.
Alexa’s Vaccine Guide
There are several new COVD-19 features for Alexa users in India. Central is the option to ask Alexa where they can get vaccinated and tested for COVID-19. The voice assistant can report nearby locations or ones based on Indian pin codes and age if they want to get the information for someone farther away. The same goes for asking about testing centers, with the added bonus of distance to the location thanks to a partnership with MapMyIndia. For those with questions about the vaccine, Alexa has been updated with official answers, as well as the helpline numbers for each Indian state in case the user would rather call a person. The company also worked with India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare so it can tell users how many people in the country have been vaccinated, pulling the info from the ministry’s website.
“Amazon Alexa is now updated with the latest COVID-19 related features for Indian users,” Amazon explained in a blog post. “In 2020, Alexa was able to share information about COVID-19 related symptoms and cases in India, to name a few. Now, Alexa will be able to provide information about testing and vaccination centres, as well as information on vaccination availability, COVID-19 helpline numbers, details to contribute towards COVID-19 relief, and much more.”
In the U.S., Alexa started offering answers about vaccine eligibility and locations to get the shots either nearby or in a requested city in April. The voice assistant will list top locations and even call one if asked by a user. Eligibility requirements for dozens of countries are also accessible by asking Alexa. The expanded repertoire came about a year after the initial U.S. COVID-19 information update to the voice assistant.
The demand specifically for India about COVID info makes the expansion there a logical step. For instance, more than 30 million people have used the Indian government’s MyGov Corona Helpdesk WhatsApp chatbot since it debuted, making it the most-used WhatsApp chatbot ever. The health ministry and MyGov worked with Haptik to build the Hindi and English chatbot in the early days of the pandemic as a channel for sharing information to Indian citizens about COVID-19 and the health measures undertaken to stop its spread.