County Creates Amazon Alexa App for Public Events

Using Amazon Alexa technology, Douglas County, Colo., residents can use an Echo Dot device like the one shown and ask for public event information.
Image: Amazon

Douglas County created an app using its open data portal to promote public events through Amazon Alexa. Next the app will offer services information.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLO. — Using data on its public open data portal, Douglas County officials decided to use the Socrata Open Data API (SODA API) to search and find information and relay it back through Amazon’s Alexa cloud technology. The project will cost a total of $100,000 over two phases.

Residents can now ask, “Alexa, ask Douglas County what events are happening next week,” and Alexa will begin reading the list from the public data portal. Filters ensure answers are limited to events in the date range requested, the types of events and the cities.

Events submitted online must be reviewed through a gated application, which prevents malicious entries to the county’s public events calendar. But any municipality in Douglas County can promote events through Alexa with the new county app, increasing citizen engagement.

Once users ask to enable the Douglas County app, they can ask about events on the county’s public events calendar:

The second phase will enable county residents to also ask questions about government services information available through the open data portal, such as “what time does the clerk’s office open?”

Other Douglas Counties in the U.S. can’t claim their name on Alexa, however, so Socrata recommends being an early adopter and name your municipality’s app first.

Siri and Google don’t offer local governments the opportunity to create an app like this, according to John Thompson, Douglas County’s data services manager.

Read the full story on the Socrata website.

About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of EfficientGov.com and Senior Editor at Praetorian Digital. She is based in Massachusetts.