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Alexa and Echo can now answer questions about State of Iowa

DES MOINES — Iowa has become the 6th state in the country to offer state government information through “smart speakers.”

People may now reference the “State of Iowa” as they ask their Amazon “Alexa” or Google “Echo” some common questions, like how to get a birth certificate or replacement driver’s license.

According to Iowa Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, nearly half of all the adults in the U.S. use voice assistants to interact with their mobile devices.

“We talk a lot in our administration about connectivity, whether that’s broadband connectivity or otherwise,” Gregg said, “and starting today, our state government is that much more connected to its people.”

Jeff Franklin, the chief information officer for the State of Iowa, said the state hired a private company called Webspec Design to develop the template for this project.

“Because people look for information in different ways,” he said, “some chat, some search and some ask their smart speaker, this capability allows us to meet the needs of our citizens and the way they use technology every day.”

State agencies identified more than 200 questions often asked by citizens. Those questions are now part of the “Ask the State of Iowa” database accessible by smart speaker. The governor hosted a demonstration Tuesday morning in her statehouse office.

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