Screenshot of Amazon's Echo website.
Screenshot of Amazon’s Echo website.

Hey Siri, when’s trash pickup day in East Louisville? OK Google, who is Louisville’s metro council president? Alexa, what’s the air quality in downtown Louisville today?

Those are the types of questions Louisville residents likely will be able to ask their smart devices early next year under a new local initiative called Smart Louisville.

Grace Simrall, Metro Louisville’s chief of civic innovation, said Smart Louisville would enable local residents to get answers more easily and quickly. Rather than having to make phone calls, they’ll simply ask their smart devices — phones, Amazon Echo Dot, Google Home — to get information about publicly available data.

As the program is rolled out in early 2017, Simrall said, the city initially will focus on information collected and produced by metro government.

The city also will work with partners, such as the traffic app maker WAZE, to encourage them to make their data available through Smart Louisville, she said.

Grace Simrall
Grace Simrall

Eventually, the program will be connected to other devices to make the information even more easily digestible. Rather than getting a voice answer about the city’s air quality, the smart devices could be connected to color-changing light bulbs, for example, which might display the color that corresponds with the local Air Quality Index. The bulb could light up green for a “good” quality, orange to indicate the air is “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” or dark purple for “hazardous.”

That would quickly communicate to people who commute by bike that day, whether, because of their asthma, they might be better off using another means of transportation, or whether they should stay indoors.

louisville-aqi-levelsSimrall said that Smart Louisville exemplified the city’s push to provide residents with relevant information as frictionless as possible and about embedding more city services into the residents’ homes.

Aside from the cost of smart devices that customers may need to purchase, Smart Louisville will be provided at no cost to residents.

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Boris Ladwig
Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.