Utah enlists Amazon Echo to help with driver’s license test prep

Utah enlists Amazon Echo to help with driver’s license test prep

Utah was the first state to develop an iPhone app, and in 2014, it launched OnTime for Glass, a transit-tracking app for Google's wearable tech. Now the state has enlisted Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant for its voice-controlled Amazon Echo, to help new drivers review questions for their driver’s license exams.

Amazon Echo is a freestanding speaker that connects to Wi-Fi. It uses the Alexa Voice Service to respond to users’ verbal requests, such as playing music, controlling and connecting with smart home devices, responding to questions and providing weather information.

Utah's departments of Public Safety and Technology Services worked with Utah Interactive, an NIC digital government services affiliate, to build the driver’s license quiz application, or "skill," for Amazon Echo. The voice-activated practice exam allows new drivers to review road rules at home with Alexa.

Alexa asks the questions, and users reply to the digital assistant for validation. For example, Alexa could ask what to do when approached by an emergency vehicle. The user would say, “Pull to the right and stop.”

According to Utah CIO Mike Hussey, the app expands on state efforts to simplify business with the state government. “We are always looking for new ways to integrate innovative digital solutions and move beyond how we currently help Utahns interact with government,” Hussey said.

According to Amazon, the Utah experiment is one of  more than 900 new skills created for Echo since its launch, developers are encouraged to write their own. Utah citizens also can load the state’s practice exam skill to the Alexa application on their mobile devices.

“Utah has focused on making all new online services mobile responsive, and citizens have come to expect a high level of service from Utah government on their mobile devices,” Utah’s CTO David Fletcher told GCN in a 2014 interview.

“It is better to watch where the trend is headed, rather than wait for the majority of users to be there,” Fletcher said.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a Reporter/Producer for GCN.

Prior to joining 1105 Media, Ziadeh was a contributing journalist for USA Today Travel's Experience Food and Wine site. She's also held a communications assistant position with the University of Maryland Office of the Comptroller, and has reported for the American Journalism Review, Capitol File Magazine and DC Magazine.

Ziadeh is a graduate of the University of Maryland where her emphasis was multimedia journalism and French studies.

Click here for previous articles by Ms. Ziadeh or connect with her on Twitter: @aziadeh610.


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