Find Vaccination Sites, Hospital Bed Availability, COVID-19 Stats, and More With Yani the Endcovbot

Yani, the COVID-19 Messenger chatbot developed by the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (UPRI) is back online with new features and updates. Yani can help users find vaccination sites, hospitals with vacant beds and available ventilators, COVID-19 statistics, topics on vaccines and the current pandemic situation, and more.

“Information is critical in complex disasters like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A Messenger-based chatbot such as Yani can provide valuable information the simple and easy way. It takes away the need to do an independent online search, which can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and counterproductive in a situation where time is a luxury,” said Dr. Kristoffer Berse, Yani Project Leader and Director of Research and Creative Work of the UPRI.

“It is crucial for Filipinos to be informed about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Yani chatbot is one of the creative tools that can help answer questions and provide reliable information. We can learn a lot by chatting with Yani, and Yani is accessible and free through Facebook Messenger,” added Dr. Mahar Lagmay, Executive Director of UPRI.

Yani can now locate vaccination sites in a specific city or municipality in the Philippines. Just type “vaccination sites in [name of city/ municipality]” and Yani can give a tally of their locations (ex. Vaccination sites in Iligan City).

Yani can also generate a list of hospitals with vacant beds and/or available ventilators. Simply type “ICU beds/ ward beds/ isolation beds/ ventilators in [name of city/ municipality]” (ex. “ICU beds in Quezon City”) and Yani can provide information based on the DOH’s data updates.

On the other hand, Yani can confirm if a specific hospital has available utilities and provide information on the number of vacant beds and/or the number of available ventilators. Simply type “ICU beds/ ward beds/ ventilators in” followed by the name of the hospital (ex. ICU beds in East Avenue Medical Center).

To generate COVID-19 statistics, simply type “cases in” and the name of the city or municipality, or the name of the province, or the name of the region, depending on your search (ex. “Cases in Iloilo City”, “Cases in Mountain Province”, “Cases in Region 6”). For national statistics, simply type “Cases in the Philippines.” Yani will then generate a summary of the number of cases, deaths, and recoveries based on the best available data from DOH.

“Yani” is short for “baYANIhan” and named in honor of the heroes in the fight against COVID-19. First created in April 2020, Yani chatbot is continuously being developed by a team of researchers and developers of the UPRI Research and Creative Work division together with language experts and student assistants from UP. It is part of UPRI’s contributions to the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team (UP PRT), a multi-disciplinary group of volunteer UP professors, researchers, alumni and students co-headed by Dr. Lagmay and former UP EVP and NTF adviser, Dr. Ted Herbosa.

The project team plans to teach Yani other Philippine languages before the end of 2021. As of August 2020, Yani could already speak LGBT Slang (Bekispeak) and Filipino, with the help of the UP-Sentro ng Wikang Filipino and other volunteers.

Currently, Yani is a button-based, conversational chatbot that guides users through a set of options and prompts on different COVID-related topics. In the long-term, the UPRI envisions to activate Yani in future hybrid or complex disasters where information flow can be confusing and challenging, if not lacking.

“Even beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, Yani will continually study and develop itself to provide timely, accessible and understandable information on future disasters and crises,” said Dr. Berse who conceptualized and initiated the development of the chatbot in March last year.

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