U.K. Residents Can Ask About More Than 12,000 Pieces of Government Information With Alexa and Google Assistant
GOV.UK announced two days ago that Alexa and Google Home can now be used by U.K. residents to find out more than 12,000 pieces of information about the U.K. government, and that access to even more information will be added in the future. Users can find out what the minimum wage is, or when the next bank holiday is by asking Alexa or Google Assistant. The feature is a product of sixth months of work from the Government Digital Service. Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden, said,
This is all about making life easier for people who need to access information about government services. And with million now using smart speakers, I want the government to keep up and work smarter too.
An example of queries users can ask are:
- ‘When is the next bank holiday?’
- ‘What is the national minimum wage?’
- ‘How do I apply for a new passport?’
- ‘How do I get free childcare?’
In the future, the program aims to roll out answers for queries about renewing car taxes and finding out details about how to get married.
Governments Are Turning to Voice Assistants to Connect with Citizens
The U.K. government launching this program is following the trend of U.S. city and state governments implementing similar programs. 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 matter, like vehicle registrations, license renewals, and paying taxes. Users can ask questions regarding topics and MyMS will provide accurate information. The city of Henderson Nevada is currently working on an Alexa skill with Dilli Labs that provides information to residents, too.
The difference between U.S. city and state governments implementing voice assistant solutions and this U.K. based feature is that the 12,000 pieces of information are available to all U.K. residents, whereas specific skills from a U.S. city government do not answer queries about all U.S. cities. In addition, U.K. residents do not need to choose one voice assistant to access the feature. Users of both of the most popular voice assistants are able to access the feature. Greater availability of the feature truly makes it something that can help people.
Voicebot reported in January 2019 that smart speaker adoption had doubled in the U.K. during 2018, rising to 9.5 million monthly active users according to eMarketer. Amazon currently holds the U.K. market share at 68%, Google is second with 26%. It was also reported that eMarketer expects the U.K.’s monthly smart speaker users to rise to 12.6 million in 2019, reaching about 19% market adoption.