eGov Today

News and Insights from NIC Inc.

  • Just Ask Alexa: Government at the Sound of a Command

    By Sara Watts |
    In just six months, more than 850 Amazon Echo Skills for Alexa were launched. People are ordering pizzas, requesting Ubers, getting their Fitbit stats, and finding travel deals. But interacting with state government was not on the list – until now.

    At NIC, it is our job to consider not only how the latest technologies can be applied to government, but also to evaluate how people are using technology to access information and deliver services that meet their needs. People are demanding a higher level of service, and waiting for search results to pull up on browser windows is quickly becoming a thing of the past, while interacting with voice command systems like Alexa, is the way of the future.

    We have officially entered an era of the user where people expect personalized information delivered to them immediately. Less than a month ago, we combined our knowledge of users’ preferences with the latest voice command technology to launch the first state government Amazon Echo skills.

    Goodbye pencil and paper, hello Alexa.  In Utah, we partnered with the Departments of Public Safety and Technology Services to launch a skill that will forever change the way Utah drivers experience the driver’s license practice exam. The skill helps test takers study for the practice exam by orally reviewing questions with Alexa. For example, Alexa may ask, “When approached by an emergency vehicle, the driver must immediately…” and the correct response would be, “Pull to the right and stop.” Or "True or False? Do not pass a school bus when its red lights are flashing." And the correct response would be "True."

    We didn’t stop there. In Mississippi, we teamed up with the state to launch a skill that brings license renewal deadline information directly to users. Alexa also allows users to access Amber Alerts, obtain contact information for state offices, verify elected officials, and gather state facts.

    As technology evolves, so do we. Conversational user interfaces are changing the way people access information, and NIC is once again leading the way in utilizing the latest technologies for government. In the past 20 years, we have created lots of “firsts”, and we aren’t stopping anytime soon!

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