One of the ways we can move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic is through effective mass vaccination. There are a lot of challenges in getting the world vaccinated, and these challenges are compounded when you take into account the sheer accessibility issues involved in this gargantuan exercise. For me in India, booking a vaccine slot for me and my family was a harrowing experience that involved constant website refreshing, multiple Telegram channels and thousands of notifications, fastest-finger-first slot booking, and so much more. The entire flow of booking was intimidating to me, a seasoned technology journalist well versed in these “flash sale”-style slot booking shenanigans (I still don’t have a PS5). So one can only imagine just how scary it would feel to those not as well versed with technology. Google hopes to make this process easier for Indians, with Google Assistant-guided vaccine booking flow for the Cowin platform.
Announced at the Google for India 2021 event, Google is piloting the first-ever Google Assistant-guided vaccine booking flow, making the process less intimidating to those not well versed with technology.
Prabhakar Raghavan announced a pilot of the first-ever Google Assistant-enabled, end-to-end vaccine booking flow in India. Set to begin rolling out in early 2022. #GoogleForIndia@WittedNote @mandaviya_in @PMOIndia @MoHFW_INDIA @AyushmanNHA pic.twitter.com/3dbALaaJWC
— Google India (@GoogleIndia) November 18, 2021
Starting from early 2022, users searching for vaccine booking on Google Search will get an option to have Google Assistant guide them through the booking process flow on India’s Cowin platform.
Users will be able to select amongst many Indian languages like Hindi, Marathi, Bangla, English, and more.
Google Assistant will then guide them through the process in that language, starting off with registration with Adhaar and other details, moving on to booking the vaccine appointment at convenient locations and time, filtered through vaccine of choice and the associated cost program, and finally, confirming the booking. The process doesn’t fix the inherent vaccine supply-demand problems that a populous country like India faces, but it significantly lowers the barrier to getting registered for those who may not be comfortable with the process. You still need a level of literacy and smartphone access to register for a vaccine (alternatively, you can walk in for a vaccine where people will guide you through the process), but even this online guided process by itself will be a boon to overcome the inexperience-induced hesitancy.