Nurse Carter – a COVID19 hackathon winner

Nurse Carter in 2020.

So, when I built Nurse Carter years ago, I got the data from the Ministry of Health’s website in Trinidad and Tobago. I hadn’t updated the data since. Also, I built it with version 3 of the Microsoft Bot Framework.

Bot Framework updated a lot since then, and so did the health facility schedule. I took the opportunity to hit two birds with one code. I updated to the latest bot framework bits, changed from Node to dotnet and updated the health facility data.

To make it COVID-19 relevant, I included information about that as a menu option in Nurse Carter.

When I first did Nurse Carter, I feel like I had a lot more time – lol, I did because I was on “paternity leave” (it’s regular vacation I’m calling that). Now, in snatches of time, I found myself thinking “this is rell work!”

Nevertheless, I got to the submission line and Nurse Carter to a devpost hackathon and it was one of the top projects out of 1500 that were submitted! COVID-19 has brought a lot of heartache but I’m hoping that innovative approaches like Nurse Carter get more and more opportunities to deliver meaningful value in people’s lives.

Bots State

Ok, in 2016/2017 these were the bots I made:

Nurse Carter

Hansard Speaks

Time for Water

For some reason, I feel like there were more. Most likely, that’s because of perhaps just iterating on those above. I did make a few PoCs for work, like collaborating on the Teleios Code Jam one with our intern at the time, Joshua.

I also made a few ones we used for demos with clients, those put together things like QuikWorx, our low code solution creator at Teleios with SharePoint and Cortana.

This year, there are a few I’m going to go after in addition to iterating on the ones above. A friend of mine asked me to make a hybrid QnA CUI application. This tweet by Gary Pretty about a new way to sync QnAs might bring that back up.

My next new bot will be one that uses the Consumer Affairs Division data in some way. I hope to finish that over this long weekend in Trinidad.

One of the changes I’ve not been on top of have been to the Microsoft Bot Framework.  They’ve gone to General Availability and bots on the bot framework developer portal need to be moved over to the azure portal by March 31.  I’ll both move and update dependencies with the move to keep current with how to do things on the framework.

So, that’s it. I hope for more collaborations with the updates this year and perhaps more frequent updates.

Who is Nurse Carter?

I was on vacation over the 2016 Christmas period. At the office, we had recently concluded our Power Hour series for the year with an episode describing how we built a virtual assistant that made parliamentary recordings discoverable via Facebook messenger. 

We called that Hansard Speaks, and you can check out that episode here

So, I’m home thinking, ‘what next?’ when we had a new beginning of our own: my baby girl was born! Apart from the explosion of joy with her arrival, I was home for a month. 

Mind you: I understand that paternity leave is officially 3 days in Trinidad & Tobago. My company, Teleios Systems gives us a week. So, my wife and I agreed that I’d augment that with 3 weeks of vacation. In the end, we’re very glad we did. 

Anyway, being home with baby, witnessing the pains, frustrations & gladness of interacting with our public health systems, gave me the idea for my next virtual assistant: Nurse Carter

Nurse Carter is a virtual assistant that you can ask questions (kind of) and it will tell you when & where you can get access to various kinds of health services.
A few years ago, I used the data located on the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Health‘s web pages as the base for a mobile app. I called the app, TT Health Facilities and I used it to list all the health facilities and the services they provided based on their schedule. So, I knew there was a place to retrieve this data from.

As we did when we built Hansard Speaks, I used the Microsoft Bot Framework, this time using NodeJS rather than C#. This one took a while to put together because crying baby trumps messy JavaScript. But it’s finally done, and you can access it directly on  the web or Facebook.

This was another opportunity to get into the technology around Lucene and that type of search experience, everything else was mostly hacking around in Node. I guess I’m sort of working my way up towards more natural language interactions. So maybe next time I’ll use Microsoft’s Cognitive Services’ Language Understanding Intelligent Service.