News and Innovation from Oracle UK and Ireland

How AI calls can support the most vulnerable

By Hector Alexander, Co-founder and COO, Yokeru

Read time: two minutes


Lockdown changed everything. 

The restrictions placed on vulnerable people in response to Covid-19 has hurried the integration of technology and care. When we started Yokeru a year ago, the world was a different place - and the adoption of tech into care services was, while still happening, slow and steady. Now it's blisteringly fast.

We launched Yokeru to support vulnerable individuals, and in March this year we saw the disruptive impact strict societal changes would have on the most vulnerable. It became immediately apparent that AI calls would be part of the solution.

It's true, great technology can enable human connection. But it shouldn't to replace humans altogether. So why then was our shielded mother only communicated with via letters? And why was she responsible for reaching out - often to overwhelmed council services - if she needed support? We needed to find a better way that was both fast to implement and, even better, used existing communication infrastructure. We thought creatively about how best to connect digitally excluded people, without visiting them at home. 

It was at this point that we began to appreciate that we would need to partner with the right people. We needed the best expertise and support – fast. This little detail would end up making a big difference.

Supporting the digitally excluded

It became more important than ever to maintain connections to the most vulnerable people in our communities. It was vital to coordinate relief efforts despite reduced physical interaction, and notwithstanding local authorities’ limited time and resource availability.

The result was an AI-powered call centre that makes AI calls. These AI calls helped local authorities identify potentially at-risk people during the outbreak – those that required medicine, groceries, or were struggling with loneliness, for example. The small gesture of checking in on people - understanding their needs, anxieties and fears, and making them feel connected to the resources that could help - has made a big difference during the lockdown.

However, as a small start-up, we needed expertise and the ability to scale-up fast. Oracle helped to make this happen. With our implementation of Oracle Digital Assistant and Oracle Autonomous Database, we rapidly developed a system that has been rolled out in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, monitoring 9,000 vulnerable people. The platform freed-up 100 working days for staff to focus on those identified with the most need.  

The most significant factor in successfully helping Hammersmith and Fulham was the speed at which Oracle enabled us to get up and running. The most vulnerable in our society didn't have time to wait for a lengthy, complicated implementation of cloud technology. They needed help immediately, and together we made it happen.

The great human connector

In these trying times, it's more important than ever to support one another and care for the most vulnerable among us. Through our partnership with Oracle, we have been able to create a lifeline for so many digitally excluded people.

Although this year has proved the most difficult for many, the need for connection will always be there. Moving forward, as we continue to utilise technology as the great human connector, we should remember that it is often the little things – a short phone call, for example – that can make the most significant impact.

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