Recommended ReadsAugust 6th, 2019

A chatbot that helps homeless people find nearby services they can access

Jess Allison
Jess Allison, People and Operations Director

95% of Melburnians and Sydneysiders experiencing homelessness own a mobile phone – a slightly higher percentage than the Australian population as a whole. Yet very few digital tools are created with people experiencing homelessness (or at risk of experiencing it) in mind.

AskIzzy is one of those few tools. It helps people quickly find free meals, overnight shelter, clothing banks, legal support and access to offline and online mental health services.

A Toronto start-up has created a similar tool – an AI-based chatbot called Chalmers. One of Chalmers’ creators talks about helping a friend facing homelessness: “It took me hours to piece together the next steps of what he would have to do, and services that were available to help him,” she said. “The entire process was so time-consuming, and I was so frustrated.”

Tools like AskIzzy and Chalmers won’t solve homelessness, but they will make life easier for people experiencing it.

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