Emergency
situation
chatbot

Estonia created Suve, a state-approved automated chatbot to provide trustworthy information during the COVID-19 situation

23. March 2020

Suve is already working on the webpages of Government of Estonia, Estonia’s Health BoardMinistry of Social AffairsWork in EstoniaInternational House of Estonia and Invest in Estonia – with other sites soon to follow. During the emergency situation in Estonia, Suve focuses on questions related to the crisis situation. Her main goals are to find official information during the crisis situation, keep various emergency phone lines free for those in need of information that she cannot provide and help prevent the spread of fake news. The Government of Estonia declared an emergency situation on 12th March due to the worldwide pandemic of Coronavirus COVID-19 and the threat of mass infections.

To guarantee trustworthy and accurate information, Suve’s parents – the eeBot team – is co-operating with Estonian Government Communication Unit.

“What makes it possible for us to hack the crisis is, on the one hand, our volunteers’ willingness to contribute their valuable time and knowledge, and on the other hand, our government’s willingness to take the solutions offered by tech-savvy volunteers seriously,” Michaela Snopková, Head of the eeBot team and one of the founders said. “I am also happy to see that there are various other teams across the nation doing the same – we are fighting side-by-side, using technology to tackle the various effects of the current situation.”

„An idea of a nationwide chatbot had been in people´s minds already before the crisis, but the hackathon gave us a real chance to bring it to life very quickly. With that, hopefully we can ease the load on information hotlines even a little bit,“ explained Snopková. According to her, working as a consultant to foreign specialists on a daily basis, many people’s questions do not require personal consultation, but rather directing to the right information. „There´s no need to call your family doctor or information hotline to ask whether it is currently possible to travel to Finland or ask about sick leaves. Suve gives answers to these kind of questions. This way doctors are reachable to the people who have the coronavirus symptoms or suffer other medical conditions and therefore need a quick and personal councelling,“ Snopková said.

According to National digital advisor of the Government Office of Estonia, Marten Kaevats, receiving trustworthy and updated information is crucial during the emergency situation. „The chatbot offers us a new additional possibility to receive information about changes and at the same time alleviate the pressure on information hotlines. Today, Suve, the chatbot can be compared to a puppy who does not know all the tricks yet and does not know all the answers but tens of volunteers are working towards making her smarter and more skillful.”

Chatbot Suve was one of the ideas that started at the Hack the Crisis hackathon organised by Garage48 and Accelerate Estonia – a part of Estonia’s startups’ plan to hack the current crisis. The goal of the eeBot team – the virtual parents of Suve – was to find quick and impactful IT-solutions to minimize the effects of the crisis.

Estonia is one of the most digital and enterperneural countries in the world and that is why decision was made to hack the crisis. The quick adaptions of smart IT-solutions to solve the crisis have already drawn the attention of international media and are a hot topic in social media worldwide. This also means that anti-corona hackathons are being held in many other countries across the globe (WirVsVirus Hackathon in Germany, Hack the Crisis in Finland, Hack the Crisis in Lithuania, Tech4Covid19 in Portugal, Hack Force in Latvia, and Hack the Crisis in Poland, ect).

In addition to volunteers, Suve has had some organizational help as well, including others from Garage48Wize AIBoost.aiWork in EstoniaInvest in Estonia and Government Office.

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