Toby Cappello: April 9, 2020

IBM Offers “Watson Assistant for Citizens” to Speed Trusted Responses to COVID-19 Questions Using AI

IBM is working with government agencies, healthcare organizations and academic institutions to put the most trusted data and information into the hands of citizens


Toby Cappello

Vice President in IBM’s Data and A.I. Business


COVID-19 is affecting communities around the world. There has been an unprecedented flood of information requests from citizens looking for answers from hospitals, local officials and others. In fact, wait times in many areas around the globe to receive responses are exceeding two hours, with many companies wondering how they can help.


To support communities, IBM is offering a Watson-based virtual agent dubbed “Watson Assistant for Citizens” to government agencies, healthcare and academic institutions free of charge for at least 90 days so they can provide their citizens/constituents with answers to their questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The virtual agent, available online via a chatbot or on the phone using your voice, uses artificial intelligence to put the most trusted data and information into the hands of citizens.


IBM Watson Assistant for Citizens on the IBM public cloud brings together Watson Assistant, Natural Language Processing capabilities from IBM Research, and state-of-art enterprise AI search capabilities from Watson Discovery, to understand and respond to common questions about COVID-19. Clients can also work with IBM to customize the solution to tailor services for citizen’s specific needs.


Watson Assistant for Citizens leverages trusted data from external sources, including guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and local sources such as links to school closings, news and documents on a state website.


IBM already is in discussions with government agencies and healthcare organizations across the U.S., as well as globally in Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and more, to provide a virtual agent solution to citizens. In the U.S., IBM is already working with government agencies & healthcare institutions in nearly all 50 states.


This is one of many initiatives from IBM in helping to aid the global fight against COVID-19  — from a new interactive map from The Weather Company to track the virus, to a consortium with the White House that taps supercomputers for accelerated research on treatments and ultimately a cure. IBM’s Ritika Gunnar is available to discuss how the Watson Assistant for Citizens can help during COVID-19, how governments are using the virtual agent, and, importantly, how consumers can benefit.




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More About Toby Cappello:

Toby Cappello is the Vice President of Industry Architecture and Client Success within IBM’s Data and AI business.   In this executive leadership role, Toby is responsible for engaging our customers in discussion about industry use cases and proof points to better leverage the data they have for business value and differentiation. Done correctly our customers will unlock previously unattainable value from their Data Assets and Business Processes. 


Toby has focused on working with Customers to drive business value through enablement and building competencies around transformational and disruptive technologies.  He has done this by aligning people, processes and technology ensuring organizations are prepared to realize value from technology investments and business transformation.


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