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Police launch news briefings on Alexa



Lancashire and West Yorkshire forces begin to use Amazon’s voice activated app to pass on public information

Two police forces in the north of England have made news and information services available through devices running on Amazon’s Alexa software.

Lancashire Constabulary and West Yorkshire Police have developed ‘skills’ that can be downloaded from the retail and digital service provider’s store to work with the Alexa app and Echo devices.

They come from a project led by PC Rob Flanagan, Lancashire Constabulary’s innovations manager, who worked with Amazon’s developers, and are claimed to be a first for police services in the UK.

Flanagan said: “As a police force we are always looking at ways to engage with our communities. Alexa works alongside traditional policing methods to inform the public about the important issues in their neighbourhoods.

“Voice activated searches now account for 10 per cent of online searches and are expected to rise to 50% by 2020. We want to be at the forefront of this new technology to make it easier for the public to access the information they want to know.”

Both provide a public news feed activated by voice: update hourly for the West Yorkshire service and daily for Lancashire.

Exploring new ways

Flanagan added that the force will look at different ways to use Alexa. “It is still very much in its infancy but we are looking forward to exploring the ways in which we can use this technology in the communities we serve,” he said.

Alexa has been making inroads into other public services over the past few months. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and Met Office have launched information and checking services, Aylesbury Vale District Council has developed a skill for a number of customer service functions, and Hampshire County Council has announced plans for its use in social care.

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



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