Just Ask Alexa
Vehicle Recalls Canada
March 12, 2020 - Ottawa, ON - Transport Canada
By Chrystal Tolu Olorunsogo
The Government of Canada (GC) has launched an Alexa pilot project called Vehicle Recalls Canada using Transport Canada’s vehicle recalls database. The application programming interface (API) for this Alexa skill is now available in the GC API Store.
The pilot project, also known as the Alexa project, is one of the federal government’s first uses of voice-assisted technology to provide services to Canadians. It uses voice-assisted technology to make it easy for citizens who own an Alexa to access information about vehicle recalls. When the make, model, and year of a vehicle is given to Alexa, it will respond with information straight from Transport Canada’s Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls database. Alexa can even send the information directly to a person’s phone via text message.
Open and User-Focused
Most people only find out that their cars are being recalled through a letter sent by vehicle manufacturers or by seeing it on the news. When buying a used vehicle, prospective buyers must proactively look for vehicle recall information through the Transport Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Recalls Database.
Implemented in August 2019, the Alexa vehicle recalls service fulfills a government commitment to provide more agile, open and user-focused digital services.
In July 2018, the Government of Canada organized a two-week challenge to design and develop proofs-of-concept for voice-enabled government services to Canadians.
Six developers from various federal departments, including Transport Canada, learned to design engaging conversations, prepare and clean available data, and code and deploy Alexa Skills on Amazon Cloud.
From there, Transport Canada’s information technologists considered where the technology could be deployed to serve its wide range of stakeholders or citizens at large. The department’s vehicle recall database was a natural choice since it directly serves Canadians.
The developed API connects the Alexa skill and the vehicle recalls database, providing access to information through Alexa seamlessly within seconds through voice interaction.
Using the Government of Canada API Store
Since the Vehicle Recalls launch on Alexa, the GC API Store has provided the Transport Canada project team with otherwise unavailable usage data. For example, data from August to December 2019 shows that over 4,500 requests were made for the vehicle recalls API. This data lets management easily track the API’s use. The GC API Store also continues to provide updates on the status of the Vehicle Recalls Database API and its frequency of use, and it notifies the project team of needed server maintenance.
Overall, the GC API Store has made usability and management of the API easier for Transport Canada. The API is also open and accessible to others who may find it valuable to inform their own work on similar projects.
Edited by Stephanie Bell
"The Government of Canada is committed to improving service delivery for Canadians and providing information in new, innovative ways. Vehicle recall information is important and Canadians need to have vehicle safety defects corrected in a timely manner. The easier we make it for Canadians to obtain this information, the better."
— Minister of Transport, The Honorable Marc Garneau
You can view this article in PDF form.