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DVLA and Met Office begin to use Alexa

28/07/17

Agencies follow Aylesbury Vale in testing Amazon’s voice service for customer enquiries

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the Met Office have launched initiatives in the use of the Amazon Alexa voice service for dealing with enquiries from the public.

DVLA has begun a trial in which motorists can check on tax or MOT status of their vehicles, while the Met Office is providing weather forecast through Amazon’s app for the service.

Amazon Echo deviceThe former announced yesterday that it has developed a ‘skill’ – the capability for the service to interact with specific processes – to handle the enquiries and made it available for free download through the Alexa Skill Store.

It works by a user reading out the vehicle registration to an Alexa enabled device, such as Amazon’s Echo and Dot, followed by Alexa reading back the relevant information.

It effectively replicates in voice format the information available on the DVLA’s online vehicle check service on gov.uk/check-vehicle-tax.

A spokesperson said the timescale for the trial is currently open ended, and if the user feedback is positive it could lead to the development of more services using the technology.

The organisation’s chief executive, Oliver Morley, said: “Providing choice in how people use our services is important to DVLA and by trialing this skill we are giving customers another way to get information quickly and easily – helping them to keep on top of their vehicle tax.

“This is another example of how we are always looking to test new ways of providing digital services to make things simpler and better for the UK’s motorists.”

Flash Briefing

The Met Office has revealed this month that it has developed a skill to provide the public with a ‘Flash Briefing’ through the Alexa app – which can be downloaded onto a wider range of devices – that includes a regional forecast for the next 24 hours.

Its informatics specialist Niall Robinson said: “The way that people access the weather forecast is changing and it’s important that we stay ahead of the curve by providing innovative new ways in which people can access our trusted forecasts. The Alexa skill is a fantastic new way to bring our weather forecast into the modern home.”

The projects follow the effort by Aylesbury Vale District Council to use Alexa for a limited number of information and transaction requests as part of a long term plan to harness artificial intelligence (AI) in its customer interactions.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

 

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