Alexa, What’s Up at City Hall?

Steve Mace selects information for Alexa to read to residents. (Photo by Imani Chet Lytle)

Don’t bother going to University Park’s website to read announcements from city government.

Ask Alexa to do it for you.

Dallas digital marketing agency Imaginuity has introduced, through website client University Park, a new platform that works with Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated personal assistant.

Using Imaginuity Community Connect and Alexa-powered devices such as Echo and Echo Dot, residents can get information about road closures, community events, and emergency alerts by saying, “Alexa, ask My University Park.”

UP community information officer Steve Mace expects the technology to appeal especially to residents ages 35 to 45.

“Community Connect will provide our residents with an efficient way to get city news and events from the comfort of their homes without logging on to a computer or making a phone call,” Mace said.

Mace noted how when morning storms forced the cancellation of an Independence Day run in 2016, got 29,000 hits from residents checking on conditions and verifying that the parade would continue as scheduled.

Next time something like that happens, residents will have another option for getting their updates, he said. “We are excited about communicating with our neighborhoods in this innovative way.”

Mace and other city staff designate website information for Alexa to use. Residents can also access the monthly newsletter and information about basic service and hours of operation.

Imaginuity chief marketing officer Gary Hooker expects more municipalities to sign up for the service. “Voice is a natural method of interaction and is intuitive for most people, so we expect voice computing to grow.”

William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at [email protected]. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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