The DTS Technology Advisory Board has recently awarded UGRC an innovation grant of $25,000 for the Digital Assistant Skill for Voting Project.
The goal of this project is to make voting information more accessible to Utah citizens and, ultimately, increase engagement in the voting and political process. This effort aligns with the Innovation Fund’s mission to support projects that promote a “greater efficiency in a government process or a cost saving in the delivery of a government service, or both” (2018 General Session, H.B. 395, Technology Innovation Amendments).
UGRC’s proposed voice-enabled digital assistant project can benefit several Utah entities, especially the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, the Department of Workforce Services, and county clerks’ offices. It will also provide an opportunity for cross-agency collaboration. But just as importantly, this service aims to increase Utah citizens’ engagement in the voting process.
Official voting information is currently available to Utah citizens through the vote.utah.gov website, but UGRC’s innovation fund proposal suggests that this information be made available through Amazon Alexa devices and Google Assistant devices. The new voice-enabled digital assistants will provide a voice-based user interface design and natural language processing, along with machine learning and artificial intelligence cloud services.
The voice assistants could also answer simple questions, as well as provide resources to answer more complex questions, more effectively and efficiently than users looking up information on their own. This will also help other agencies save time since they’d, hopefully, be fielding fewer calls about voting questions.
Work on this new project will begin immediately.