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The City of Henderson, Nevada Wants an Alexa Skill as Local Governments Recognize the Rising Value of Voice Assistants

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The city of Henderson, Nevada, selected Dilli Labs to participate in its 2019 Startup in Residence program challenge of developing a voice assistant based solution. The 16-week program began January 28th, 2019, and now Dilli Labs is in the process of developing a voice interface to city services for city residents, in the form of an Alexa skill. If the program is successful, Dilli Labs may receive a contract from Henderson to further build out the skill. In an interview with IndiaWest, Dilli Labs founder Piyush Hari commented on the partnership saying,

Using an intelligent voice assistant based on Amazon Alexa to connect to city serivce will be very natural and convenient compared to the conventional ways of using web, mobile, or telephone. The day is not far when all cities will deploy voice assistants that will serve as the primary channel for their residents to interact with city services.

Henderson has also partnered with four other startups to help with four other challenges in the Startup in Residence program. A partnership with CityLife aims to develop an informational mobile app. On Point Barricade will be building an asset management platform for tracking the deployment of barricades. SacTown Interactive will build a citizen engagement tool to increase the number of students walking to school, and UrbanLogic will build a planning tool to predict the traffic impacts of new real-estate development.

City and State Governments Turning To Voice Assistants

As the general use of voice assistants continues to rise, so does its multitude of use cases. One of those use cases is city and state governments turning to voice assistant to provide their residents with information. Utah was the first state to create an Alexa skill, launching in April 2016 a practice driving test quiz Alexa skill to help soon-to-be drivers practice for the state’s driver’s license exam.

In the Summer of 2016, Mississippi created the MyMS Alexa skill to help keep residents up to date with various government matters, like vehicle registrations, license renewals, and paying taxes. Users can ask questions regarding topics and MyMS will provide accurate information.

Georgia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Univesity Park of Texas, and Cary of North Carolina, have all also implemented Alexa skills offering various kinds of state or city information. Some, like Georgia, have made all information from their official website available conversationally from Alexa.

Dilli Labs Has Experience with Voice Assistant Applications

A technology consulting firm, Dilli Labs launched its first Alexa skill in 2016, called Doctor Pooch. The skill enables users to ask Alexa whether a certain food is safe to eat. Since its launch, the skill has gained around 50,000 unique users. To date, Dilli Labs has developed more than 10 Alexa skills, and one Google Assistant action. One skill is an informational skill created for the Roman Catholic Church Communications Corporation. Another skill, called Dilli Forms, lets users request several forms from the IRS, US Supreme Court USCIS, US Department of State, and more. For example, a user could request a W-9 or an application for a social security card. The requested form will be sent to a user via email, with their name and address already filled out. The WPHLiveTV Handball News Flash Briefing skill was created in collaboration with WPHLiveTV, and enables users to listen to news and information from around the world of handball. The skill is updated throughout each week.

Startup in Residence Wants to Help City and State Governments

The Startup in Residence (STIR) program aims to help government organizations address their challenges that cannot be easily solved using a traditional procurement process by connecting them with a startup company. Both startups and government organizations must apply as well as compete in order to participate in the STIR program. Once a government has been selected, it will assemble a selection committee to review and select a startup in order to meet their challenge. It does not cost money for a startup to participate, and startups are not paid for participating in the program. However, the goal of the program is to go to contract. The STIR website states that although contracts are not guaranteed, most partnerships do lead to an agreement.

STIR will partner with a government leader for four months prior to the residency in order to expedite the procurement process, mitigate risk, and provide a structured framework of engagement with the startup. The residency is a 16-week collaboration period between the startup and the government partner. This year it began January 28th. During the residency, participants aim to complete a predetermined ‘scope of work.’ The program is designed to be mostly remote work for the startup.

The program started in 2014 in San Francisco, past projects include streamlining the process of foster care, putting smart sensors on trash cans, and improving health service for the homeless. Twenty-eight local and state organizations across North America are currently participating in the program, which consists of around 80 challenges across areas such as mobility, civic engagement, IoT, resiliency, process improvement, and more. Here is a list of the cities partnered with STIR for 2019:

  • San Francisco, California
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Long Beach, California
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Memphis Area Transit Authority
  • Mobile, Alabama
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
  • San Jose, California
  • Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Henderson, Nevada
  • Fremont, California Public Works Department
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Napa, California
  • San Diego, California
  • Peoria, Illinois
  • Sacramento, California
  • Syracuse, New York
  • San Leandro, California
  • West Sacramento, California
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • Miami-Dade County
  • Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada
  • El Dorado County, California Department of Transportation
  • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
  • Metropolitan Transportation Commission
  • Walnut Creek, California

LA has an Alexa Skill. Will you love it?

Government Technology – Two Local Governments Add Alexa Skills to Assist Public