After a six-month trial by the Government Digital Service (GDS) with a view to future-proofing the delivery of online services for citizens, 12,000 items of government information can now be accessed via voice-activated smart speakers and virtual assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
The GDS trial that has made the information available via voice-activated smart -speakers is part of a wider plan to employ the use of third-party (voice) apps, machine learning, and other new technologies in order to simplify interactions between citizens services going forward. The millions of smart speakers now in use in UK homes means that voice-activated technology has provided an important first step for the government’s plans.
What Kind of Information?
Examples of the kind of government services information that’s now available via Alexa and Google home includes the dates of UK bank holidays, the minimum wage level, information about how to apply for a passport or pension, as well as the answers to childcare and tax-related questions.
Started A Year Ago
The plans to future-proof government services in this way were first made public a year ago when Neil Williams, head of Gov.uk at the time, said that around 400 services had already been identified as potential use cases for voice technology.
Machine Learning Added To Gov.uk website
The idea of integrating machine learning with the Gov.uk website is reported to have led to the creation of an algorithm that helps to tag all the content and develop a taxonomy, thereby making it much easier for users of the website to quickly access relevant information.
The Gov.uk website, which came online back in 2012 is reported to have resulted in huge efficiency savings, as well as making it much easier for citizens to access government content.
In a recent blog post, The Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden, highlighted the importance of the GovTech Catalyst initiative in matching innovative private sector solutions with public sector challenges. Mr Dowden also announced the publication of an Innovation Strategy later this year that will share the government’s vision of how GDS and wider Cabinet Office will lay the foundations for the government to use emerging technologies.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
There are many services that businesses need to access information about and having the information available quickly via smart speakers and virtual assistants could save time and money and help businesses to comply with government rules and regulations. It could also help businesses to discover opportunities and help that may be available via government services for both the business itself and employees and other stakeholders.
The Gov.uk website has also been a money-saving tool for the government, and making more information available via smart speaker and apps, while improving the website and its operation using machine learning could provide greater savings in the future, while demonstrating how the government is making efforts to embrace and utilise the strengths of new technologies, and simplify access for to information for citizens.