Voice commands can put New Albany residents in touch with city services, events

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
New Albany City Hall is at 99 W. Main St.

Anyone wanting to know details about the city of New Albany's events or services need only ask a smart-speaker device for help.

Both Amazon Echo and Google Home will respond to a new voice-command program that allows residents and visitors to ask questions about the city, such as, “Who is the mayor?” or “When is trash day?” said city spokesman Scott McAfee.

“I think it just gives residents another way to access other information,” he said. “I’m not sure it was available before.

“If you ask for the New Albany Walking Classic, you’ll get a date for the New Albany Walking Classic” – which is Sept. 19.

Here’s how to get started: Ask Alexa or Google a specific question about the city.

Users then might find virtually anything related to New Albany events or services, from job postings to social-media accounts to how to obtain a patio permit.

McAfee said the voice-activated system, which went live May 13, is the wave of the future.

“I think it was kind of an evolution,” he said. “(Discussions) started last year. We did a communications audit, and one of the things that came up in the communications audit was there an opportunity to do this. It was part of our communications budget for 2021. It just seemed to be part of a natural progression.”

The city spent $11,600 to contract with Buckeye Interactive, a New Albany-based company, to help develop the voice-command system.

McAfee said the new tool would continue to be used for New Albany services and events. He said he doubts the city would add information from other local entities, such as the New Albany-Plain Local School District or local branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

For questions that are not being answered by the new system, people should send an email to info@newalbanyohio.org or check out newalbanyohio.org/faq.

Resident Stacie Miller said she isn’t surprised the city of New Albany has made this technological step, and she intends to use it.

“New Albany is a really tech-savvy community,” said Miller, who lives in the city with her husband, Matt, and three children, ages 6 and under. “I’m really happy to be living here. I’m really excited to start using this service."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary