App could help with people’s COVID-19 questions

By Heather Yakin
Times Herald-Record

Posted Mar 23, 2020 at 7:30 AM

PORT JERVIS – A local marketing and public relations agency is developing a new artificial intelligence-based application that could help medical businesses or local governments provide answers to the public about coronavirus and about services offered to the public.

Niki Jones, CEO of the Niki Jones Agency, said the app would incorporate the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 information and screening flow chart, and would be customizable to suit the medical business or government unit. Jones said her staff just finished writing the code for the app to use with Facebook Messenger, and they’re working on a version for Twitter.

The system is automated, so the business or department won’t have to use staff already strained by the pandemic to answer the same questions from the public, said app developer Louis Kohman.

With government officials telling people to call their doctors if they have symptoms, Jones said, “I think there’s a point where the doctors’ offices will get overwhelmed. The idea is to take the burden off the phones, get people answers, and direct them where to go.”

The app would also allow members of the public to go to the organization’s Facebook page and use the Messenger function to access the app menu. Users will see options to click on, which will lead them to their answer.

Governments could use the app to update their constituents on a situation that’s changing daily

Jones said the app could also be coupled with geolocation services to help people find the nearest drive-through COVID-19 testing center, once those sites are set up.

Jones said she has been speaking to local government officials and others about the potential for the new app.

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