Service deliveryDigital Customer ServiceAlexa and Google Home to make government information accessible

Alexa and Google Home to make government information accessible

Other services that could soon be accessed on Alexa and Google Home by voice include renewing car tax and finding out details about how to get married

The UK government is set to use voice-activated smart speakers and virtual assistants platforms – Alexa and Google Home – to make services easier to access.

In total, 12,000 pieces of information ranging from questions about passports and public holidays to benefits and pensions can be found by asking these platforms, including questions like ‘How do I apply for a passport?’ to ‘What age can I retire?’

The trial has been running for the past six months after a small team of experts from the Government Digital Service (GDS) worked to allow people to access information from GOV.UK without having to touch a computer keyboard.

Last year, Sam Dub – GOV.UK product manager and Mark Hurrell, Head of Graphic Design – had highlighted why voice-based access to the government’s services was vital.

Simplifying interactions

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 millions now using smart speakers, I want government to keep up and work smarter too.”

The head of GOV.UK, Jennifer Allum, said: “We want to simplify people’s interactions with the government, making information clear and accessible to everyone.

“These results are promising because voice services can be a really convenient way to get information, particularly for people who find computers and phones hard to use.”

Smart home approach to domiciliary care could help carers to better answer the ever-increasing cries for help.

Hampshire County Council and Public Health England

Last year, Hampshire County Council became the first local authority in the UK to use virtual assistants platform to help residents.

The council piloted the use of Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant to help support people with severe disabilities. It started working with Argenti Telehealthcare to set up devices for 50 social care clients over the course of a one-year period. The council was linking Alexa voice-controlled devices to other gadgets in the house, such as Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, so that clients are able to operate the television without having to manipulate a physical device.

Public Health England (PHE) launched a new service delivering approved breastfeeding advice via Amazon’s Alexa in March last year.

Through Start4Life’s ‘Breastfeeding Friend’, users can ask the cloud-based platform a variety of questions about breastfeeding and receive answers tailored to the age of the baby.

According to PHE, the service is the first time parents have been able to receive NHS-approved breastfeeding advice via a hands-free digital platform.

Breastfeeding Friend is built for Amazon’s full range of Alexa devices including the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Plus. It is also available via the Facebook Messenger chatbot.

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