Iowa Governor Announces Alexa and Google Assistant Applications for State Government Information


Today Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa announced the launch of an Alexa skill and Google Action which will provide state government information to Iowan residents on their enabled devices. The Governor’s Office also created a document with instructions on how to set up Google Assistant and Alexa and how to download the voice applications for each device, which can be found here. Gov. Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, and Chief Information Officer Jeff Franklin said that Iowa is expanding its communication channels and services to include Google Home and Amazon Echo. At the news conference, Reynolds stated,

We place Iowans at the center of all our decisions and this latest improvement to increase citizen engagement is a great example of how we’re making state government adaptable to technology.

The state’s Alexa skill and Google Assistant Action are both called “State of Iowa.” Example queries Iowa residents can ask their assistant of choice include:

  • How can I pay my speeding ticket online?
  • How do I register to vote?
  • How do I get a copy of my birth certificate?
  • What’s on the Governor’s schedule today?
  • How do I contact the Governor’s Office?

Jeff Franklin, Chief Information Officer also commented on the announcement,

Our office continues to be a technology innovator, utilizing various communications tools, social media and now Google Home and Amazon Alexa to connect and engage with Iowans. I look forward to incorporating this technology in more of our services in the near future.

Yet Another Government Jumps Aboard the Voice Application Train to Connect with Citizens

Iowa is not the first state government to be making voice applications to connect with its residents, and it will definitely not be the last. All signs point to increasing adoption of smart speakers by U.S. adults, and increasing adoption of voice applications as a way to connect with residents by not only state governments, but by city governments, and even by federal governments.

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. 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.

Georgia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, University 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. Just yesterday Voicebot reported that U.K. residents can ask about more than 12,000 pieces of government information with Alexa and Google Assistant due to applications published by the U.K.’s Government Digital Service.

The Creation of Government Voice Applications Gives Alexa and Google Assistant Credibility While Increasing Government Transparency

The decision for governments to use voice assistants as a way to connect with residents is a confirmation of the increasing importance voice assistants have in the role of user’s lives and is a testament to voice assistant’s expanding reach. In addition, governments are able to benefit from the use of voice assistants because in providing resources through as many avenues as they possibly can, governments prove they want their residents to have easy, convenient access to important and accurate information. This could lead to an increase in resident trust and engagement in their local government. The news that Iowa now has a voice-based solution for its residents is exciting, and it will be exciting to see other governments – of all sizes – implement their own voice solutions.

U.K. Residents Can Ask About More Than 12,000 Pieces of Government Information With Alexa and Google Assistant

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