Articles

    Civic technology: How your City/County can use Amazon Alexa to engage audiences

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 4 • Summer 2018

    by Jennifer Chapman

    The City of Johns Creek logo and an Amazon Alexa deviceFrom playing your favorite songs to providing step-by-step recipe instructions, Amazon Alexa performs a variety of functions for its users – but did you know it can be a transparency tool as well?

    The City of Johns Creek, Georgia, decided to leverage the virtual assistant technology to launch its own Amazon Alexa “skill” in an effort to enhance the accessibility of the City’s open data portal, the DataHub. The DataHub portal holds large amounts of City-generated data like code compliance information, building permits, fire and police data, and more.

    Johns Creek is the first City in the world to use open data with Amazon Alexa, which pulls info from the City website and DataHub to answer users’ questions.

    For example, Alexa users can request, “Alexa, ask the City of Johns Creek when the next City Council meeting is scheduled,” and the virtual assistant will reply with the meeting date, time and location.

    Amazon Alexa users can download the City of Johns Creek “skill,” which can answer questions about available jobs, the City event and meeting calendar, in addition to data-related questions.