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A virtual assistant chatbot for child protection and COVID-19

Create a virtual assistant for international child protection actors on how to prevent, mitigate and respond to COVID-related risks.

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Using an AI technology platform provided by Nuance (USA), Proteknôn will co-develop a virtual assistant chatbot to provide real time support for child protection during the COVID-19 pandemic. The chatbot will be on the website of The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (the Alliance is co-led by UNICEF and Plan International). The virtual assistant will allow the Alliance to scale up its support to its member organisations, who number almost 100 international child protection organisations, as well as child protection agencies and governments globally.

What is the need are you focusing on?

COVID-19 has increased child protection risks, for example, by isolating at-risk children and increasing parental stress. Normally, the Alliance provides child protection guidance to agencies in humanitarian 'hotspot' countries. Now, demand for child protection guidance and support has mushroomed to include Western agencies and governments. The Alliance's support system is overwhelmed. The virtual assistant will allow the Alliance to scale up support to international child protection actors so they can better protect children during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Sharing a pivot idea your organization is considering or could consider

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

The virtual assistant chatbot is an innovative solution that would allow Proteknôn to pivot from its current child protection activities to scale up support for international child protection agencies and frontline workers who come to the Alliance website for technical expertise and guidance. The chatbot would be built by Nuance (pro bono). Proteknôn Consulting Group, who is currently the Child Protection and COVID-19 focal point for the Alliance, would use IDEO funding to build the chatbot content (Proteknôn also does Knowledge Management for the Alliance). The chatbot will support the over 15,000 unique visitors who visit the Alliance's website each month, providing relevant, targeted guidance on child protection and COVID-19 in a quick, user friendly format.

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • Yes

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

The child protection and COVID-19 virtual assistant chatbot will provide relevant, targeted technical support and guidance to child protection agencies and frontline workers who are working in almost every country to prevent, mitigate and respond to protect children from COVID-related risks. Currently, over 15,000 child protection actors and agencies are coming to the Alliance website for support and guidance each month. Thus, the chatbot has the potential to make a real and immediate difference in the lives of millions of children globally. And while the current pandemic will pass, we are told that it is a short matter of time before the next one hits. Therefore, this innovation provides an opportunity to develop an effective, to-scale response that can be reactivated to provide immediate, global support to child protection organisations and governments in the future.

What is the name of your business or organization?

Proteknôn Consulting Group LLC

What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

Proteknôn Consulting Group is comprised of over 35 senior researchers and practitioners who work in humanitarian and development contexts. The name Proteknôn is derived from two Greek words: "in front of" and "child". As our name implies, we are focused on what children are facing, especially as it relates to their care, protection, and wellbeing. Our Associates engage in research, innovation, policy analysis and advice, and learning and development on behalf of international organisations and governments, including USAID, UNICEF, Plan International, UK DFID, Grand Challenges Canada, Handicap International, Terre des hommes, World Vision, Oxfam International, Save the Children, the IRC and others as clients. Visit us at

What is your profession?

I am both a researcher and business development expert who consults for Proteknon Group and independently.

Where are you located (country)?

Canada, but Proteknôn Consulting Group is registered in the USA. Our office is virtual.

Where are you located (region)?

  • North America

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Academia/Research
  • Business/Consulting
  • Consulting services for child protection in humanitarian and development contexts

How many people does your business/company employ?

  • 11-49

How old is your business/company?

  • 2-5 years old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Social Enterprise

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Funding- Grants
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Civil Society Groups

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • No

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

The main barrier is funding to develop content for the virtual assistant. Depending on how long the pandemic lasts, we may also need longer term funding for the virtual assistant (to keep the chatbot going beyond Nuance's pro bono offer).

If you are currently working on a pivot, what have you learned so far?


Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?

No. The WHO has a health-focused chatbot for COVID-19, but it does not provide child protection resources.

Website URL

Proteknôn Consulting Group: The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action: Nuance:

Attachments (1)

Concept Note_Proteknon Alliance chatbot_Nuance.pdf

Original concept note submitted to Nuance (since accepted)


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