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How Google Cloud is helping get more Covid vaccines to more people


Mike Daniels, vice president, global public sector at Google Cloud explains how the company is helping to ensure that when it comes to vaccines, nobody gets left behind.

As multiple Covid-19 vaccines are distributed worldwide, government leaders are now acutely focused on vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible.

But to effectively serve entire populations – including underserved and elderly communities –government organisations must provide constituents with a range of sign-up options to ensure that no one is left behind.

Google Cloud is already working with numerous states to help government and public health leaders introduce cloud-based communications and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, as part of our Intelligent Vaccine Impact solution (IVIs). Today, we are extending upon the IVIs platform to support a more equitable vaccination strategy at scale.

Using intelligent virtual agents to extend reach within local communities 

Contact Center AI (CCAI), one core component of the Intelligent Vaccine Impact solution, scales call centre human operations with intelligent virtual agents that understand, interact and can talk with people 24/7 in real-time.

This technology is especially important in reaching those with limited technology proficiency; those without access to a computer, a smartphone, or the internet; and those who are non-native speakers, as CCAI supports up to 28 languages and dialects.

Intelligent virtual agents are available through any channel most convenient for residents like chat, text, web, mobile and phone.

They can work over the phone to assist with questions, registrations, scheduling and follow-up reminders. Virtual agents can also direct users to local resources, answer frequently asked questions, and provide guidance at each step of the registration, eligibility, locating vaccination sites, and appointment scheduling process through a secure web presence.

This technology can work for both inbound and outbound phone calls to reach populations that may not engage online, via SMS, or email communication. Multilingual virtual agents can also provide assistance for individuals who are more comfortable in their native language, both online and over the phone. 

CCAI is built on Google Cloud’s industry-leading Conversational AI, a foundation that provides human-like experiences, and one that is integral to supporting vaccine equity. The virtual agent needs to be able to comprehend how people talk and the multiple ways in which they will express the same question or intent.

For example, ‘When can I get the vaccine?’ and ‘When can I get it?’ are effectively the same question, and with CCAI, the intelligent virtual agent understands the context of the question and correctly answers it.

Virtual agents also give public health agencies the ability to update answers in real-time. This is critical, as answers to vaccine eligibility questions can change daily and the system needs to be up to date. Having the ability to easily update these responses increases trust and conveys authoritative information at all times.

CCAI can extend to existing systems to go beyond standard FAQs. To be the most helpful, it is important for these virtual agents to take action on behalf of the person calling in.

CCAI, whether deployed as part of the IVIs or as a standalone technology, allows for easy integration into an existing scheduling or registration system, so callers who need to change their appointments can do so without logging into a website. 

Serving New Yorkers with CCAI

New York State implemented CCAI to provide New Yorkers with real-time answers to their most common and pressing questions about vaccine safety and efficacy.

The use of CCAI helped NYS deflect roughly 25% of incoming calls, as constituents were able to get answers and information from the intelligent virtual agents now in place. This helped to free up the staffers at the call centre on more unique questions and cases.

To accommodate New York’s diverse population, the State provided enhanced options by enabling the virtual agents to understand and respond in Spanish, with plans to add more languages soon. 

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