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IDinsight open-sources early version of AI-powered question-answering service

14 February 2024

“Ask a Question” uses Large Language Models (LLMs) to answer queries from users safely and reliably using a knowledge base.

Ask A Question is a free and open-source tool created to help non-profit organizations, governments in developing nations, and social sector organizations utilize Large Language Models for responding to citizen inquiries in their native languages.

In the last three years, IDinsight has evolved its work using AI and large language models (LLMs) in the social sector to help non-profit and government partners strengthen their programs. Today IDinsight shares version one of its open-source generative AI tool – Ask A Question. 

Designed for the non-profit sector

Ask A Question is a real-time question-answering service that nonprofits can use to connect with the community they serve. It answers people’s questions asked in natural language using only the information in a knowledge base. It is powered by LLMs and designed to allow nonprofits to easily deploy it on their existing infrastructure. IDinsight also plans to provide it as a service for partner organizations that don’t have a technical team or infrastructure. The team has prioritized keeping operating costs low as the tool is meant to serve organizations operating on small margins. Most importantly, it is built in adherence to responsible AI principles from the beginning to ensure it is free of hallucinations and protected from misuse. recently selected the tool as part of its AI Accelerator program, which will enable the IDinsight team to further expand the product with best-in-class support from Google. The tool can currently be used in English and Hindi, with plans to include other Asian and African languages in the next six months. In addition to language, Ask A Question has several features, like voice notes and message triaging, on its roadmap for 2024. 

Impact using language models so far

IDinsight’s Data Science team developed an early version of the product while working with Reach Digital Health on the MomConnect platform in South Africa. MomConnect provides timely and relevant healthcare information to two million registered moms, about 450,000 of whom are active – asking about 45,000 messages monthly. The question-answer system matches a mother’s health queries to relevant content in the information database. Urgent questions are flagged and elevated to a live help desk. Through the tool – which is now embedded in MomConnect’s core WhatsApp flow – IDinsight helps Reach Digital and the National Department of Health reduce the number of mothers with urgent health issues that go unanswered. Support from will help evolve the first version of the app into an open-source multilingual question-answering service designed for others in the social sector who may use it in myriad ways. 

Seeking partnerships

The promise of GenerativeAI, especially LLMs, is apparent. If the social sector is to benefit from this wave, it will require greater investment in innovation, tool-building, and experimentation. By open-sourcing its LLM tools, IDinsight hopes to encourage greater collaboration and adoption of AI tools and reduce the cost for peers wanting to kickstart similar projects. 

IDinsight is seeking collaboration, partnerships, and financial support to develop new features, create new AI tools, and support other partners in implementation. 

Contact for more information.