In order to generate development concepts for the Circular Garden in Yerevan, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Armenia and Strelka KB developed a chatbot called Tigran, which will survey Facebook users, tell interesting stories about the Garden and show rare historical photographs.
At the beginning of the year, UNDP in Armenia launched a project on transformation of Armenia’s urban environment piloting in the Yerevan youth park (former Circular Garden). It was proposed that the project expert and urban anthropologists would conduct a series of interviews to identify the values and demands of Yerevan residents connected to the Garden. The methodological support for the study was provided by Strelka KB, an urban consulting company from the Russian Federation, with further design and renovation by local architects and urban planners.
Anthropological research began in March, however, the process was interrupted due declared state of emergency disabling personal interview processes.
Strelka KB specialists developed a special software application used to conduct an on-line chat conversation via text or text-to-speech, in lieu of providing direct contact with a live human, which can have a conversation in Armenian about the Circular Garden at any time of the day on Facebook. In the image of a casual neighbor, it collects critiques and suggestions for how to develop the territory, and in return, it shares interesting local lore about the Garden’s landmarks and even visuals from films shot on its territory.
Any Facebook user can talk with chatbot Tigran simply by opening this link and typing in the messenger. In some cases, the chatbot suggests a choice of answers to a given question, while in others, it asks users to type their own answers. By the way, the chatbot is always available for ideas and suggestions even if the conversation ends. All user answers are saved in the chatbot’s memory and later will be analyzed by project experts in order to determine the top priorities for future development of the Circular Garden.
The Circular Garden is the biggest park in Yerevan, yet 80 percent of its territory is private property. This park, created as the ‘lungs’ of the city, is currently visited by 200,000 people a year. The key goal is to engage local residents in the design process of the park, changing their relationship to this promising public space.