Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s innovative way of using a WhatsApp chatbot for vaccination highlights path that other government departments can follow

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In a unique example of transformational and innovative way of using technology, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s WhatsApp chatbot for vaccination registration and slot booking has crossed the milestone of more than 75,000 appointment bookings since its launch on May 15. With the determination to increase vaccination registration and streamline the process of slot bookings across the city, a WhatsApp API based helpline was launched in May as a free to use service for citizens of Kolkata. The WhatsAPP bot was Inaugurated and rolled out by Mr Firhad Hakim Hon’ble Chairperson Board of Administrator, KMC.

The chatbot has been accessed by 265508 unique users with 75000+ appointment booking for vaccination from users across Kolkata. The chatbot started off by providing vaccine slots at 3 centres in the city and has scaled up to 100+ centres since launch. After a successful vaccination drive for the second dose through its WhatsApp chatbot, the slots were opened for first dose vaccination for 45+. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s WhatsApp chatbot has helped smoothen the vaccine appointment booking process and reduced waiting time for citizens at vaccination centres. Drive-In Vaccination was also introduced through this WhatsApp Bot to felicitate vaccination in four-wheeler only, helping many aged and ailing citizens

On using WhatsApp as a communication tool during a time of crisis, Binod Kumar, Municipal Commissioner of Kolkata Municipal Corporation said, “The response from people of Kolkata to the vaccine drives across the city has been very positive and encouraging. As we scale up the vaccine drives, it is important for us to streamline the process to avoid crowding at vaccination centres. Our WhatsApp chatbot is a great communication tool that is reducing the tech barrier to booking a slot. We are grateful to WhatsApp for working with us to develop this solution for the benefit of our citizens.”

Dr Abhishek Roy, Head SeMT West Bengal Govt. said, “WhatsApp bots has become a very useful tool for e-governance in the State. It will be expanded to many other e-Governance applications of the State.”

To book a slot through WhatsApp, all citizens need to do is send ‘Hi’ to the number +91 8335999000 on WhatsApp, share the date of the first dose, followed by ID details and proceed to select the vaccination centre to complete their booking. Upon verification, citizens receive a confirmation on the specific time slot when they need to visit the centre, therefore reducing crowding at centers.

This is an extremely innovative deployment of technology, and considering WhatsApp’s wide usage and acceptance across the country, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s example is one that other municipal corporations should follow and adopt.

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Kolkata Municipal Corporation
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