Quezon City launches chatbot vs domestic violence

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Quezon City launches chatbot vs domestic violence
Undated photo release shows the exterior of the Quezon City Hall.
Released / QC Government

MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City government, in partnership with the embassy of Switzerland and other organizations, has launched a chatbot aimed at addressing cases of violence against women.

Called the “Chatbot Sophia,” the technology assists victim-survivors of domestic violence by facilitating the collection of potential evidence and providing access to resources and support.

It may be accessed by visiting the website sophia.chat or by sending a message to “Sophia Chatbot” on various messaging applications, including Telegram and Viber.

The chatbot was developed by Swiss non-profit organization Spring ACT and was launched in the country in partnership with SPARK! Philippines, a non-government organization that empowers and supports women.

During the launch on Saturday, Mayor Joy Belmonte expressed full support and gratitude to partner agencies for choosing Quezon City as the new hub of Chatbot Sophia.

“Quezon City is taking the lead in incorporating AI (artificial intelligence) to improve service delivery to its people and we are delighted that this extends to the realm of gender equality, of which we are among the country’s leading advocates,” she said.

The chatbot is available 24/7 and ensures the anonymity of users. Victims around the world can chat with her about signs of abuse, steps to take to leave an abusive relationship or how to help someone who is being abused.

It also assists victims in gathering and storing potential evidence of the abuse, informs them about their rights, and guides them to the nearest support available.

“The development of Sophia involves extensive research and collaboration with experts of domestic violence, psychology and technology. We ensured that Sophia was not only technologically advanced but also emotionally intelligent,” said Rhiana Spring, founder of Spring ACT that developed the chatbot.

Belmonte said the chatbot is aligned with the different initiatives that the city government is implementing to protect women and children.

Among these was the creation of a unified database system to track all cases reported to the city’s various agencies, streamline the process of addressing gender-based violence and ensure the accuracy and integrity of data.

The local government also opened the Quezon City Protection Center, a one-stop-shop offering assistance to women, children and the LGBTQIA+ communities, and Bahay Kanlungan, a temporary shelter for victim-survivors.

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