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UK gov adds 12,000 factoids to Alexa and Google Assistant

UK gov adds 12,000 factoids to Alexa and Google Assistant

Find your nearest dole queue more easily with Google Home

UK GOVERNMENT BOFFINS have added a whole stack of useful information to smart speakers from Google and Amazon.

In total, 12,000 extra bits of info have been smooshed into the virtual brains of smart speakers ranging from questions about passports and public holidays to benefits and pensions.

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 government has had ‘a small team of experts’ from the Government Digital Service (GDS) working on a pilot scheme that is supposed to allow you to use data that you’d otherwise need to get from the gov.uk website, without lifting a finger.

12,000 pieces of information is a relative drop in the ocean, and the team is expected to widen the scope of the scheme to encompass further types of data from the site.

Suggested topics include the renewal of car tax and licensing for getting hitched.

The information has been added to both Amazon Alexa and Google Home, thus sealing up most of the smart assistant market. Siri and Cortana are both snubbed, and we’re still in shock that the government hasn’t got behind Samsung’s magnificent and not-at-all pointless Bixby.

We tried some of the sample questions on Google Assistant exactly as phrased in the news release from UK gov, and yet all of the responses were dug up from alternative sites like Wikipedia, suggesting that either the service isn’t live yet, or isn’t working properly.

It’s great to see the government finally following the example of trailblazers like former Digital Minister MattHancock.com who created his own app to support his relationship with the country, but like MattHancock.com we’d say that this is an early doors experiment and not to be taken as gospel just yet – though we hope its success will persuade other public bodies of the usefulness of supplying official data to smart speakers.

Just don’t ask it when Brexit will be. μ

Further reading

Source : Inquirer

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