• The government has warned those spreading wrong information about the virus saying tough action will be taken against them.
• Brian Ndegwa, a second-year Bachelor of Science in Information Technology student at the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology developed the system dubbed ‘Rona’.
Irritated by misinformation and myths about the coronavirus, a university student has developed an Artificial Intelligence solution to curb misinformation and answer questions on the Covid-19 pandemic.
Brian Ndegwa, a second-year Bachelor of Science in Information Technology student at the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology developed the system dubbed ‘Rona’.
The system is currently being incubated at the university’s innovation hub, DeHUB under the mentorship of Kenneth Njihia, Project Coordinator at the DeHUB.
Why did Ndegwa build Rona?
“I built Rona, because I saw the anxiety many people were facing, as they got fed wrong information from the internet intended to cause fear.
"I saw that it could be really helpful if I developed a platform for people to confirm news from all these sources and avoid panic. The chat interface came about because many people generally love chatting, and most of this misinformation was also spread through chatting,” he told the Star.
Ndegwa said he took less than a week to come up with the system.
The total number of coronavirus cases confirmed so far in the country is 126 with four deaths.
The government has warned those spreading wrong information about the virus saying tough action will be taken against them.
Some have already been arrested and arraigned in court for misinformation.
The ministry has also provided 719 helpline for passing information about the virus.
The World Health Organization has also been providing information about the spread of coronavirus.
Ndegwa said his solution is different from that which has been provided so far.
“Rona is different in the sense that it lets users ask any questions they may have by giving them the power to ask their own questions. This is a limitation I observed where users were confined to a set of predefined text,” he said.
Ndegwa said Rona's inner working mechanism is also very different since it understands what the user actually wants and either gives a parsed response or gives a link to credible information, based on what the user asked.
Rona, Ndegwa said, is also different in the sense that, the more Rona gets used, the more is becomes better at what she does.
Ndegwa said Rona will help anyone who is curious to know anything about coronavirus.
Anyone can visit http://rona.co.ke/ at no cost.
Ndegwa said it is normal for some users to get overwhelmed when using a new platform.
“To solve this, Rona has a series of dynamically generated list of questions that most people have been asking. A new user on the platform can use this as a starting point,” he said.
Ndegwa said Rona is trained to gather information from credible sources, mostly government recommended sites or sites approved by WHO to have credible information.
He said they are looking forward to working with the Ministry of Health in the provision of accurate information during the pandemic.
“It is through accurate information that we can reduce the spread of the disease and reduce misinformation going round,” he adds.