Smart speakers are great for answering basic questions, like "what's the weather tomorrow" or "what's the population of Brazil" (it's 209.3 million, in case you were wondering). However, since the answers to many of these questions come from Google's ability to scrape the content of webpages, they can sometimes be inaccurate or purposely manipulated. Answers to questions about the UK government should now be fairly accurate, as the country has added "more than 12,000 pieces of information" to both Google Assistant and Alexa.
The United Kingdom's Government Digital Service has been working for the past six months on a trial project to "allow people to access information from GOV.UK without having to touch a computer keyboard." Some questions that can now be answered include, "how do I apply for a passport," "when is the next bank holiday," and "what is the national minimum wage."
The group is still adding more information to Assistant and Alexa, and is looking into ways to renew car taxes and perform other simple tasks through smart speakers. Unfortunately, your Google Home still doesn't know when the United Kingdom will leave the EU.
For the past six months, a small team of experts from the Government Digital Service have been working on a trial project to allow people to access information from GOV.UK without having to touch a computer keyboard.
Their work means people can now ask their home speakers questions ranging from ‘How do I apply for a passport?’ to ‘What age can I retire?’
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.
People can ask Alexa questions such as:
- ‘When is the next bank holiday?’
- ‘What is the national minimum wage?’
Or ask Google Home questions such as:
- ‘How do I apply for a new passport?’
- ‘How do I get free childcare?’
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.
Extra government services that could soon be accessed by voice include renewing car tax and finding out details about how to get married.