Czech start-ups play their part in fight against Covid-19

By the middle of March, with the number of coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic creeping up and amidst surging public interest in how best to stay safe, the country’s emergency telephone service, 112, was beginning to overload with coronavirus-related questions.

After days of non-stop calls from concerned Czechs asking about how to protect themselves from infection, about the latest government regulations related to coronavirus and other non-acute questions, 112 operators were exhausted. They had neither the technology nor the human resources to cope. What’s more, citizens with genuine emergencies – those needing an ambulance, wanting to report a fire, or call for help after a car accident – couldn’t reach an operator as lines were blocked.

That’s when Mluvii, a Czech-based digital omnichannel communication platform for call centres and remote work teams, along with several other Czech tech companies, including Nula Advisory, Keboola, Invia, Comdata, Alza and Mediacall decided to step in and help.

“We joined together and over one weekend set up a national hotline – 1212 – for coronavirus news and topics in cooperation with Czech government authorities,” Karolina Branikova, marketing and communications manager at Mluvii, tells Emerging Europe.

“There is also a chat widget on  the main info website of the ministry of health and those of other ministries. Czech citizens can now contact the national coronavirus contact line via the web or the hotline and get the same quality of information as they would from calling 112,” she adds.

Mluvii’s software allows for various kinds of communication – webchat, phone calls, video calls, shared screens, documents, emails, and apps such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp – from one interface.

“Call centre agents or specialists from four Czech ministries are now able to answer both incoming calls or incoming chat conversations in one interface. Most of them work remotely from their homes so the solution had to be very easy to use, and Mluvii met the criteria. You only need to use a computer or laptop with the Google Chrome browser, an internet connection, and earphones to start answering questions>,” says Branikova.

We immediately built a new server and boosted the phoneline connection. Within a few days, we were able to get over 700 operators on board, teach them how to use Mluvii, deliver them a knowledge base coordinated with the government authorities and start helping our country.

Since its launch the service has dealt with more than 70,000 calls and 19,000 chat conversations. The overload on the three main emergency lines (the main emergency number 112, the health rescue line, and the fire rescue line) has been stopped: people can now reach the emergency lines and lives or properties can be saved.

“We have even launched a mental health support line, where people can talk to psychologists,” says Branikova. “We have carried out something of a small revolution in terms of fighting together against Covid-19 with technology and amazing human cooperation. The business world hand in hand with the government.”

Another Czech start-up, Nula Advisory – which also took part in the 1212 project – has also come up with a quickfire solution to manage the large number of orders and requests that are being received by companies helping with the fight against Covid-19 infection.

It has created a unified exchange, called CovPoint, where existing technology has been used to meet the needs of the crisis. Pipedrive, an Estonian-founded CRM platform, provided its application which automatically receives completed order forms from Covpoint and sorts them. Mluvii – them again – which is closely integrated into Pipedrive, unifies voice communication and associate it with the right contacts. Integromat then helps with the automation of processes, essentially saving time.

“The aim was to invent a functioning system for Czechia within 24 hours and for it to solve the rapidly growing supply and demand problem faced by companies fighting Covid-19,” Eliska Janouchova, business and innovation manager at Nula Advisory tells Emerging Europe.

“Thanks to the integration of existing advanced technologies such as Pipedrive, Mluvii and Integromat, we were able to deliver a working solution within hours.”