Aylesbury Vale Council launches Amazon Alexa skill

Local authority becomes first to use the company’s voice activated artificial intelligence for access to services

Aylesbury Vale District Council has become the first local authority to launch a ‘skill’ on Amazon Alexa, making the artificial intelligence system available as a route to a handful of services.

Aylesbury Vale logoNamed Aylesbury Vale District Council Self-Service, it makes it possible to interact with the authority through Amazon’s Echo voice recognition devices, and can initially be used for asking for payment options for council tax, obtaining information on recycling, waste collections, recycled needle collections and questions on the political and council leadership.

The council has indicated that it plans other services, citing reporting missed bins and checking a council tax balance as likely examples.

Prospective users have to register with a valid address for the service.

The skill has already picked up one five star review from a user, and provides an early milestone in the use of Alexa for local services.

Social care ambition

Hampshire County Council recently announced plans for trials of the technology in supporting older people in their homes, working with a customised version of the Echo 50 device.

Andrew Grant, Aylesbury Vale’s chief executive, told UKAuthority it has been talking with Hampshire with the intention of developing social care solutions with the technology.

The council’s Connected Knowledge strategy includes a plan to increase the use of Alexa, which is integrated with its online MyAccount service for residents. In a recent interview Grant said it provides an effective means of voice activated self-service and that “in future (it) will be able to iterate across different public sector platforms”.

Authorities beyond local government have also begun to use Alexa: the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and Met Office recently launched services.