During a record-setting California wildfire season that has displaced hundreds from their homes and left millions more breathing smoke-filled air, two San Jose-based software engineers created an AI assistant to deliver localized updates to residents across the state.
Amit Tallapragada and Arvind Sankar observed that in the early days of the fires, news outlets and local governments provided a confusing mix of updates about fire containment and evacuation zones, leading some residents to evacuate unnecessarily. They teamed up to build a chatbot that would return accurate information about conditions in individual cities, including nearby fires, air quality, and weather data.
Try it out by texting “update <californiacityname>” to +14083409971, eg. Update San Jose.
Rasa Open Source and Twilio made it possible to quickly build a chat interface for the API supplying the data, and Rasa Open Source was used to classify city and county names, recognize intents, and handle dialogue. So far, the assistant has handled 2, 000 individual sessions in a month, helping Californians stay safe and informed about wildfires in their area.
Amit Tallapragada and Arvind Sankar are software engineers based in San Jose California. Amit works with chatbot infrastructures and Arvind on distributed systems and databases. Amit and Arvind are childhood friends who have been building projects together since high school.