The UK government has decided to embrace smart speakers, by offering answers to simple questions via Alexa and Google Assistant.
Rather than trawling through the gov.uk website looking for the answer you need, 12,000 pieces of information have been fed to the virtual assistants to get you the answers you seek more quickly – provided Alexa doesn’t mishear you and answer something completely different instead.
“This is all about making life easier for people who need to access information about government services,” said Oliver Dowden, the MP for Hertsmere and minister in charge of implementation. “And with millions now using smart speakers, I want government to keep up and work smarter too.”
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To be clear, if your problem is a complicated tax-related one, I’d still visit the website if I were you. But if your question is relatively simple, then this could be a quick way of saving you having to dig your phone out. The government’s press release offers a couple of questions you can ask, such as “What is the national minimum wage?” or “When is the next bank holiday?” (though if you’re asking that today, the answer is ‘today’.)
You can also ask for information on applying for a new passport or how to get free childcare. The project has taken six months to date, and the Government Digital Service isn’t stopping there with plans to add in the ability to renew car tax, and information on how to get married.
“We want to simplify people’s interactions with the government, making information clear and accessible to everyone,” said Jennifer Allum, the head of gov.uk. “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.”
Would you entrust explaining government services to Alexa and Google Assistant? Let us know on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.