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A KRISPI-er Chatbot for Malaysia

KRISPI is an in-house chatbot built entirely in Malaysia using local resources. The first chatbot with the ability to understand Malay, English and Manglish, KRISPI is capable of creating its own answers and even understand incomplete sentences. The chatbot has already seen use in various government agencies and even in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. With its benefits proven, KRISPI has the potential to expand its usage into other sectors.

KRISPI (Knowledge dRIven Syntactic Parsing Intelligence) is a completely in-house free text chatbot technology that can rival the likes of IBM's Watson and Apple's Siri. As KRISPI is not semi-guided, it can synthesize its own answers thus allowing the user to ask more broad questions. Befitting its origin, KRISPI is also the first chatbot capable of understanding Malay, English and even Malay-English (Manglish), and is able to handle incomplete sentences as well as provide answers within the context of the conversation (i.e. making sense of the overall flow change from one question to another).


Fig. KRISPI’s Product Logo

KRISPI as a chatbot technology is the brainchild of the team at University of Malaya’s Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology (FCSIT): Dr. Ram Gopal Raj (former Senior Lecturer at the Department of Artificial Intelligence), Dr. Aznul Qalid Md Sabri (current Head of Department of Artificial Intelligence) and Dr. Hairul Nizam Md Nasir (current Head of Department of Software Engineering); it is currently main technology being commercialized by Fylix Sdn. Bhd. an AI-based UM spin-off company that focuses on delivering AI based solutions and services.


Fig. Fylix Sdn. Bhd., A UM Spin-off AI based Company

The commercialization effort started back in 2017, when Malaysia’s Employees Provident Fund (EPF) issued out a tender searching for a Chatbot solution for business use. Fylix went on to deliver a paid Proof-of-Concept and was shortlisted as one of the finalists. The technology had since matured, and Fylix via KRISPI and a partnership with Enovade Sdn. Bhd. won the Tenaga Nasional Berhad Botathon (a hackathon specific for Chatbots) in 2017.



Figs. Dr. Ram Gopal Raj, Dr. Aznul Qalid Md Sabri and Dr. Hairul Nizam Md Nasir, the founding team for Fylix Sdn. Bhd., owner of the KRISPI Chatbot technology






KRISPI as a chatbot technology has been used to deliver chatbot solution for various government agencies, including the Malaysian government portal and Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education.



Figs. Screenshots taken from the SITI chatbot on malaysia.gov.my using KRISPI as the Chatbot engine

Additionally, KRISPI also helps more customer-centric industries and sectors by automating the task of responding to customers’ inquiries. This improves the overall Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in delivering information to the customers as this information is now more regulated and standardized as opposed to using a human operator who is prone to behaving unpredictable when dealing with the customers.


All in all, the technology used to build KRISPI is not based on conventional Natural Language Processing techniques (a domain of study largely associated with chatbots). The program has an easy-to-train knowledge base and FAQ, granting it a broad database to draw from. Additionally, the engine is made up of components that are highly robust, scalable, and efficient, and most importantly, fully Malaysian-made using locally-sourced materials.


Most recently, the chatbot was part of the initiative to combat COVID-19 by providing answers to FAQs related to National Immunization Programme spearheaded by Malaysia’s COVID-19 Immunization Taskforce. The chatbot was hosted at the Vaksin COVID website, but now, due to the change of project ownership from the Ministry of Science & Technology (MOSTI) to the Ministry of Health (MOH), it will soon become available later on MOH’s website.


KRISPI is a Malaysian-made chatbot that has already proven itself eneficial in various fields from governance to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. With further improvements for user- and mobile-friendliness and the addition of a more attractive user interface, KRISPI has the potential to see use in all sectors and become the country’s go-to communication app.

 

Author and researcher featured:


Associate Prof. Ts. Dr. Aznul Qalid Bin Md Sabri Department of Artificial Intelligence, Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology aznulqalid@um.edu.my, https://umexpert.um.edu.my/aznulqalid.html


Copyedit: Michael Hoe Guang Jian (michaelhoe.hoe@gmail.com)


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