A Chatbot to Help Homeless Find Free Shelters


Artificial intelligence’s applications in business and operations are aplenty. But, researchers and the tech fraternity has given little focus on applying it for social causes. Nevertheless, here’s a chatbot that helps homeless find free shelters.

A Toronto-based startup, Ample Labs, has designed and developed this chatbot. As of now, the company has introduced the basic version of the bot. However, the newer versions that will soon hit the market, can perform more tasks.

CG Chen, founder, Ample Lab, said it is quite difficult to find free resources in an area without far and wide assistance. Chen began to explore the scope of technology in addressing homelessness when he was a student. He helped develop a service directory for Toronto. Later, his research helped develop a bot to make this information easily accessible for people.

Self-Experience Motivated The Design 

While working on this project, one of her team members lost his job and needed to evict his residence immediately. Chen recounts that she found herself helping him in navigating the system. It took her hours to put the next steps together.  Actions like what would he need to do and which services were available for him. “The entire procedure was so long and time-consuming that it frustrated her,” she added.

Her team worked with people living without a roof over their heads, alongside frontline staff at shelters and agencies for months to develop Chalmers. Nowadays, when smartphones have become as important as air and water, a chatbot makes sense, since it provides information quickly. “With the stigma attached to the situation, people are more likely to tell their personal issues to a bot than a person,” said Chen.

The company plans to add new features to the app, including a way for individuals to rate and give a review on services they utilized by getting information from Chalmers.