Toronto startup develops chatbot for people experiencing homelessness
An ambitious group of socially-minded Toronto innovators have found a novel way to use one of our city's greatest assets (its thriving tech community) to address one of its most pressing challenges: Skyrocketing rates of homelessness.
Meet ChalmersBot: An artificial intelligence designed to help those who are down on their luck find hot meals, shelter beds and social services, in real time and with the same ease as texting a clever friend.
Created by a local non-profit called Ample Labs, the chatbot has already assissted more than 1,000 people in finding food, clothing, shelter and more since its BETA launch in November — and creators have their sights set on expansion.
"In a survey of 421 homeless adults, 94 per cent said they owned a phone, and these devices are often their most vital tool for communications," reads the volunteer-run organization's website.
"Unfortunately, there are not many digital tools directed at people experiencing homelessness."
Ample Labs is seeking a total of $10,000 to further its work for the nearly 1 in 10 Canadians experiencing "hidden homelessness" amidst online environment where vital information is disjointed and stressful to navigate.
"The response has been overwhelmingly positive, but there is still a lot to do," reads the group's newly-launched Indiegogo campaign. "We need your help to keep up with demand for additional features like mental health support and LGBTQ+ friendly services."
In a matter of only days, Ample Labs has raised more than $6,700 towards its goal, and you can rest assured the money is being used for good all around.
"At Ample Labs, we believe that empowering people through technology is equally as important as giving people opportunities," writes the company.
"That is why we will pay $20/hr to those who are experiencing homelessness to help us co-design and finish ChalmersBot."
You can test out the free AI program for yourself right here and learn more about how Ample Labs is using technology to empower people experiencing homelessness here in Toronto.
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