Prague has claimed a European first with the launch of a chatbot for Ukrainian refugees.
The chatbot is designed for both people who want to offer help and those who are fleeing the war and arriving in the Czech Republic and Prague. It answers common questions and provides information about what to do on arrival, support that is available, and resources related to housing, employment and education.
The tool is available in Czech and Ukrainian and was translated by volunteers.
“I would like to thank all the interpreters who selflessly participated in the creation of the project,” said Zdeněk Hřib, Mayor of Prague. “This solution will help refugees to orient themselves in a difficult life situation and will save time not only for volunteers, but also for employees of the integrated rescue system.”
The chatbot was created with a Czech company called Sefbot.
To date, 80 percent of chats have been initiated in Ukrainian, and around half on a mobile device.
The chatbot also includes an anonymous questionnaire, which will be used to improve communication.
The Czech Republic has so far granted over 328,000 emergency visas to Ukrainian refugees.
Digitalisation goes on
There have been several examples of digital tools being adapted to respond to the war.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation recently launched a new digital service to enable individuals to register as an ‘internally displaced person’ (IDP) and apply for emergency support.
The service is part of the Diia application – a mobile app launched in 2020 to enable citizens to store official documents.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes and move to other cities due to the war.
He commented: “Now there is no need for Ukrainians to go to public institutions with documents to register. After all, it can all be done simply on a smartphone on the Diia application without unnecessary bureaucracy and papers. The service will be provided automatically, without human intervention. Therefore, applications will be processed very quickly.”
“Even during the war, digitalisation in Ukraine continues. We keep launching new services, which are necessary for both the military and civilians,” he added.
The Ukrainian government is providing internally displaced people with a monthly allowance, which can be applied for via the app. They will receive 2,000 Ukraine hryvnia (US$66) per adult and 3,000 Ukraine hryvnia per child or person with disabilities.
Transport app to survival tool
In the Ukrainian capital, the Kyiv Digital app that was previously used by residents to buy transport tickets and pay for parking was rapidly transformed into a tool that warns of possible air attacks, maps the locations of bomb shelters, medical supplies and working petrol stations, and shares information on how to support the army.
The app is currently being used for electronic voting on the renaming of streets and squares that have titles associated with Russia. Residents are verified through BankID.
In other initiatives, mobile data has been used by Kyiv’s digital team to determine how to best ration food and they also collaborated with internet providers to get Wi-Fi in bomb shelters.
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