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:
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.