Ashley Wichman

Collaboration and Innovation, Beyond Government Borders

How to start an innovation movement: Connect innovators with fellow innovators, and find more innovators to collaborate with. This idea underpins a new pilot from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which seeks to harness the power of collaboration among the public and government to better serve veterans. Currently, eight VA centers around the United States are participating in the VA Innovators Network pilot. The pilot allows VA employees to propose and test ideas in a “test small, fail small” environment, with the goal of scaling successful solutions to the entire VA system.

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Storytelling in a Digital World

The art of storytelling has been around since the dawn of mankind. Storytelling remains relevant today, and a recent effort by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows how agencies can use storytelling to showcase great projects while also teaching employees new communication strategies. Over the past year, Chris Reed, an environmental protection specialist in EPA’s Office of Policy, led a nationwide team that produced a set of 30 videos that highlight sustainability initiatives within the agency.

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How Gamification Can Break Down Bureaucracy and Address Real World Problems

The world’s toughest challenges require out-of-the-box thinking. But how can agencies facilitate intentional, structured collaboration that leads to this thinking? Gamification. To address issues ranging from maritime piracy to Naval energy use to 3D printing, the Navy uses gamification via MMOWGLI, the Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet. MMOWGLI is an online gaming platform that connects players in order to spark innovative thinking about a particular topic. The platform was created by the Institute for the Future (IFTF) and the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) on behalf of the Office of Naval Research, and NPS has hosted over 20 games since 2012.

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DigitalGov Podcast: Behind the Scenes of the Social and Behavioral Science Team

Enrolling veterans in retirement plans. Helping small farmers access credit. Surveying employees about their workspace. These projects might seem widely different from one another: they span different agencies and diverse audiences. But all three projects have been addressed by a new team in government that is helping agencies build things better, based on behavioral science. The Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) uses theories, research, and methods from the social and behavioral sciences to address and solve challenges faced by the public.

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The Benefits of Being Push-y: Reaching Your Audience Through Push Notifications

Need to get in touch with your audience? Give them a little push. Push notifications allow agencies to connect with their audiences for immediate communication. The Office of Personnel Management’s OPM Alert app provides a real time look at the current operating status for federal offices in the Washington, DC, area and uses push technology to alert users of status changes. While the most well-known use of the OPM Alert is for weather closings, the app can be used to alert users of other events: for example, the app was used to announce the lapse in federal appropriations in 2013 and the resulting office closures (and the later re-opening).

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Making Your Agency Apps Secure

It’s Saturday night: Do you know what your mobile app is doing? Securing your mobile device is hard (no matter what day of the week). And there are numerous threats that can be posed by the apps on your device: an app could be spying on you, stealing your money, stealing data or reconfiguring the settings on your device. Security and privacy are part of the six Mobile User Experience Guidelines developed by the MobileGov Community of Practice.

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Why People Contribute to Federal Tech Projects (And How You Can Provide a Good Experience)

_Author’s note: Anyone can contribute to the development of the Open Opportunities platform via the project’s GitHub repository. The Open Opportunities program itself is only open to federal employees. _ Open, agile software development projects can improve government initiatives. As discussed in last week’s article on agile projects in government, the Open Opportunities platform has benefited from increased collaboration within government as well as from contributions from outside of government.

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What Are Your Customers Searching For?

What are your agency’s website visitors looking for? Can they find it easily? How do you know? Search analytics provide valuable data that can positively affect an agency’s Web strategy. This topic was the focus of a recent webinar, Show Me the Data: Leveraging Analytics in DigitalGov Search. Dawn Pointer McCleskey, acting program manager for DigitalGov Search, discussed how agencies can leverage their search to improve the quality of their agency’s website.

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How Agile Development Can Benefit Federal Projects

Agile methods help agencies deliver projects and products more efficiently and effectively. The benefits aren’t limited to deliverables: Going agile can break down the silos that exist between and within agencies. And collaboration doesn’t need to end at the federal level—agile projects done in the open provide a way for the public to contribute to government initiatives. Transitioning to agile development has benefited Open Opportunities, a platform that helps agencies tap into federal expertise and provides professional development opportunities to federal employees.

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Challenges, Crowdsourcing, Citizen Science: What’s the Dif?

There’s more than one way to harness the wisdom of the crowd. In honor of December’s monthly theme, we’re diving into and defining the various ways that federal agencies use public contributions to meet real needs and fulfill important objectives. Crowdsourcing Two’s company, three’s a crowd—and getting input from many is crowdsourcing. A White House blog post defined crowdsourcing as “a process in which individuals or organizations submit an open call for voluntary contributions from a large group of unknown individuals (“the crowd”) or, in some cases, a bounded group of trusted individuals or experts.

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Trends on Tuesday: Facebook, TV and How to Reach Millennials and Hispanics

How do you capture millennial and Hispanic eyes? Through their hands. (More specifically: their mobile devices, and the social apps within!). AdAge recently analyzed a study from Nielsen’s Homescan panel which found that in a typical month, 12.2% of millennials can only be reached through TV (looking at the top 10 networks only) versus 14.2% who can only be reached on Facebook. The numbers are similar for U.S. Hispanics: 16.

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Wherever You Go, There We Are: the Geolocation API

No matter how you go mobile, you can meet your user’s needs. Recommendations based on location are plentiful, particularly on native apps. But don’t fret, agencies with mobile websites: you can also get in the location customization game. Geolocation is a W3C scripting API that can be used with JavaScript in Web browsers. In the past, geolocation could only be done in native apps through a mobile programming API. With the Geolocation API, a mobile web app can request a user’s location.

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DigitalGov Summit Recap: Innovation Through Customer Experience

Meeting customer needs can be done, no matter what agency you represent. A panel discussion at the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit delved into customer experience (CX) work at three agencies with diverse missions. Andrew Hughey, Product Development Director at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), moderated the panel that featured Stephanie Thum, Vice President of Customer Experience at the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), and David Simeon, myUSCIS product manager for U.

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DigitalGov Podcast: Bridging Content and Discovery Through DigitalGov Search

You can find cute kitten photos online, but you can’t find Ben Franklin’s jetpack (well, you can search for it, but you won’t find it!). For government agencies, connecting users to information is a critical part of meeting the public’s needs and delivering excellent customer service. DigitalGov Search helps agencies deliver information to government searchers on every level—federal, state, local, and tribal. Recently, search analyst Dawn McCleskey sat down to discuss the work of DigitalGov Search, including:

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Building the Next Generation of Government Innovators

Innovators are made, not born. This summer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began cultivating the next generation of federal innovators through a summer incubator boot camp, aimHI. AimHI is a pilot program to get high school students excited about careers in health information technology, medical devices and public service. Instead of traditional internships, which can be cost-prohibitive and focused on menial tasks, aimHI provides a free opportunity where students learn by doing and by creating their own experiences.

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How Agencies Can Support Employee Professional Development

Providing professional development for over 100,000 employees is no easy task. To build on the existing skills of their workforce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has piloted AgOpportunity, a program that matches USDA employees with projects that need their skills and interest. The idea for AgOpportunity came from the Partnership for Public Service’s Excellence in Government (EIG) Fellowship program. As part of the year-long program, fellows were split into teams and charged with creating a results-orientated program that could effect real change in government.

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Trends on Tuesday: The Rise of Apps, The Decline of TV

Move over, 60 inch widescreens—for the first time ever, U.S. consumers are spending more time in mobile apps than on TV. An article from Flurry Insights, the blog for Yahoo’s mobile analytics service, covered the recent viewing trends. Apps are now the top media channel in the United States: on average, people spend 198 minutes on mobile apps every day, while spending only 168 minutes watching TV. The article noted that the 198 minutes spent on apps does not include time spent on a mobile browser: with that time added, users spend 220 minutes on mobile devices every day (a little more than 3.

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How OSTP Crowdsourced A Crowdsourcing Toolkit

To promote crowdsourcing, one effective tool is, well, crowdsourcing. Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science (CCS) unveiled the Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Toolkit. The toolkit contains information, resources, and best practices federal agencies can use to harness the power of public participation. Specifically, the toolkit provides: Process steps—An outline of five important steps agencies can use to plan, design and implement crowdsourcing or citizen science projects Case studies—Demonstrated success stories, benefits and challenges from other federal agencies that can inspire new projects or help in pitching ideas Map of U.

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Trends on Tuesday: How Much Does It Cost to Go Mobile?

A penny saved is a penny earned. But spending your pennies on mobile development is necessary to meet 21st century needs. Regardless of how you plan to create that awesome anytime, anywhere mobile experience, it’s going to cost you. While the most obvious parts of the mobile price tag for native app development are initial development and launch, the long term maintenance of the app must also be considered.

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Negotiating a Mobile Terms of Service Agreement

In our personal lives, most of us barely pay attention to Terms of Service (TOS) agreements. But in our professional lives, as federal employees, mindlessly clicking through a TOS is not an option. The DigitalGov article Getting to Yes: Working with Vendors to Secure Terms of Service and Federal Friendly Pricing explored the legal dilemmas that arise when negotiating TOS agreements for government use of tools, and how federal employees can communicate the benefits of federal-friendly agreements to businesses.

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Using Plain Language to Write for the Web

Plain language will make you a better writer. For federal employees, it’s also the law. On September 9th, Katherine Spivey, Co-Chair of the Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN), presented a webinar on plain writing principles and how to apply them to Web writing. She also addressed how federal writers can comply with the Plain Writing Act of 2010. For Spivey, plain language comes down to one simple question.

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FAQs Done Right

Top FAQ Tips {.post-title} Designing and Editing FAQs {.post-title} Turning FAQs Into Web Content {.post-title} In the circle of Web content life, FAQ sections are an endangered species. We’ve previously discussed the relevance of FAQs: Should FAQs go extinct, or are they a useful tool in your content ecosystem? Kathryn Catania, Chief of the Plain Language and Content Division at the U.

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DigitalGov Summit Recap: The Need for Change Agents, plus the Internet of Everything, from A to Z

The Internet of Things is already here. How will we prepare for the Internet of Everything? David Bray, Chief Information Officer at the Federal Communications Commission, and Eisenhower Fellow, spoke about the IoT, IoE, and the need for change agents during the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. Bray argued that the IoT is already here, with devices like smartphones and FitBits widely used. As we move towards the IoE, when everything is connected, Bray asked attendees to consider the implications of IoE on what we do in public service.

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An Innovation Framework That Delivers: The SunShot Catalyst Program

Behind every great innovation is a team. And behind successful innovation teams are efficient tools, processes, and most importantly, people. The Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative funds projects that make solar energy more affordable and accessible for Americans. As part of the initiative, the SunShot Catalyst open innovation program seeks to rapidly deliver solar solutions through prize challenges. Catalyst has been recognized as a leader in the innovation field. The International Society for Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM) recently awarded Catalyst the ISPIM Grand Prize 2015 for excellence in innovation management.

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An Overview of Digital Communities

Digital communities of practice come in many stripes. DigitalGov communities span eight (and counting) focus areas and have thousands of members, but strong collaborations exist in all corners of government. In honor of this month’s communities theme, we are offering a list of communities that foster connections and strengthen the digital capabilities of federal agencies. Here is a list of some communities working in the digital arena: 18F /Developer Program CIO Council: Accessibility Community of Practice CIO Council: Privacy Community of Practice Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Drupal for Government eCPIC Federal Steering Committee (FESCom) Federal Communicators Network Federal Intranet Content Managers Federal Knowledge Management Community Federal Librarians Ideation Community of Practice Mobile Health (m Health) Training Institutes Training Institutes”) Open Data listserv: Anyone with a .

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Picking Up the “Slack” for Team Communication

You have a question about a project. You ping a coworker, who texts another colleague, who emails a listserv and receives 3 responses. And the problem is: where will your supervisor find the answer next month, when someone else asks the same question? Corralling the cacophony of texts, tweets, and emails is a serious undertaking. Some of the free tools designed to manage communication and increase efficiency now have federal-friendly terms of service (TOS) agreements.

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DigitalGov Summit Recap: How “We, the Techies” Can Effect Change

Who do you need to bring to the table to make a better world? In May, Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States, delivered the keynote address at the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. She encouraged attendees to find ways of unlocking potential through collaborations from both within and outside of government. “We have extraordinary teammates across government,” Smith said. “It’s one of the coolest things. I just came here in September from Silicon Valley.

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DigitalGov Podcast: Leaders Come and Go, But Your Customers Will Remain

To provide great customer service, bring your agency’s customers to the table. This is one of many insights recently offered by Stephanie Thum, Vice President of Customer Experience at the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Thum has previously written about customer experience for DigitalGov, including Three Ways to Evolve Your Agency’s Customer Mindset and the forward-looking Will 2016 Be the Federal Government’s ‘Year of the Customer?’ In May, Thum sat down with DigitalGov to dig deeper into the federal customer experience (CX) landscape.

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Won’t You Help Your Neighbor? Communities Theme Month on DigitalGov

It’s a beautiful day in the DigitalGov neighborhood, and we want you to be our neighbor: no red sweater required. The strength of digital government depends on robust collaboration across agencies, offices, and disciplines. The virtual federal neighborhood collaborates through numerous communities of practice, each of which promotes the open exchange of ideas and resources. Communities have already made a big splash in 2015, and for this month’s DigitalGov theme, we’ll highlight those efforts.

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Celebrating American History with Federal Apps

Summer is here, which means it is time for the biggest holiday of the summer—Fourth of July! Independence Day is a happy time of year: BBQs, picnics, pools, sunshine and fireworks. Of course, the foundation of our celebration is American history, and there are plenty of excellent federal apps focused on this area. The American Battle Monuments Commission maintains 25 overseas military cemeteries that honor the service and sacrifices of U.

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Celebrating Parks, Creating Connections: NPS Prepares for 2016 Centennial

Planning your next national park adventure (from the comfort of your couch) is easier than ever with a new website, Find Your Park.com. Launched on April 2nd, the mobile-friendly FindYourPark.com was designed and launched by the National Park Foundation (NPF), the non-profit organization affiliated with the National Park Service (NPS). The website is part of the celebration campaign for NPS’s centennial in 2016. Nana Efua Embil, Assistant Centennial Coordinator for NPS, said that the goal of the FYP website aligns with the overall NPS centennial goal: connecting with and creating the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates.

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DigitalGov Podcast: DAP Delivers Data for 4,000 Websites

You cannot improve your digital outreach without data. Since 2012, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) has provided agencies the critical information and metrics that they need to make their public-facing websites better. The buzz around DAP has grown with the release of the Digital Analytics Dashboard, which provides a real-time glimpse into government Web traffic, and Pulse, a dashboard showing the percentage of agencies that have implemented DAP. Both dashboards rely on DAP data to inform the public about government Web activities.

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Using Apps for Mental Healthcare

Technology has opened new pathways for delivering health care, including mental health services. The National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), part of the Department of Defense, offers multiple apps that address health care for service members in a variety of ways. At a talk with the MobileGov Community of Practice earlier this year, Dr. David Cooper, a psychologist for T2, said the apps are a way to provide services and make appointments more effective and efficient for patients.

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Trends on Tuesday: Native App Lessons from the CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program

The more you test, the more you know. We recently highlighted lessons learned from the CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program, discussed the mobile emulator dilemma that many agencies face, and today we’re back with a few insights on native app testing. The Federal CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program yields a rich set of participant feedback that helps individual app creators improve their product. While the program primarily tests mobile websites created by federal agencies, the team tested early prototypes of the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Normandy App and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s CrowdMag app as a pilot.

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The Emulator Dilemma: Can Mobile Device Testing Be Completed Without Mobile Devices?

Government agencies have created a variety of apps to meet the needs of the public. As you join in on the mobile first trend and begin developing your shiny new mobile application, you will need to test it. There are a basic set of questions that must be answered: Does it function properly? Does it function properly on the different mobile devices your customers are using? Do all developers and testers need a collection of devices to physically test the application with?

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Monthly Theme: Building, Evaluating, and Improving Government Services Through Social Media

While examples of government social media content may initially seem like mere fun—the YouTube video of President Obama on Between Two Ferns or the Transportation Security Administration’s “good catch” pics of lipstick stun guns and batarangs—the potential of applied social data to build, evaluate and improve diverse citizen services is only increasing. As we recently discussed on DigitalGov, social media tools are for more than one-way marketing and communication: they provide a connective, responsive capability to public services.

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DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit 2015: Open Innovation and Collaboration

[metaslider id=274602] Digital innovators from across government were asked to think of technology as digital service for their country at today’s DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. The theme of this year’s Summit was “open.” The agenda was packed with presentations about how “opening” data, content, contracts and talent makes digital citizen services better, more effective or even cheaper. A diverse array of topics were addressed, including privacy and identity management, 3D printing, and agile methodology.

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Monthly Theme: Customer Service in the Federal Digital Space

“The customer is king.” “The customer is always right.” Regardless of your feelings on these age-old customer service adages, the fact remains: we’re all serving someone. No matter what corner of the federal digital space you occupy, you are connecting with people, and the outcome of those connections matters. To recognize the importance of these relationships, DigitalGov is focusing on customer service as our May monthly theme. There are numerous ways to look at the customer experience and many digital professionals may ask themselves, how is it different from user experience?

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Creating a Veterans-Centered Experience Through ExploreVA

Good customer service includes user-centered design. For one digital team at the Department of Veterans Affairs, creating a veterans-centered experience started with one word: explore. The ExploreVA website provides a single location for veterans and their families to research the benefits that they may be entitled to receive. Benefits include health care, education, employment, and many more services. VA’s Megan Moloney, Director of Digital Media Engagement, and Josh Tuscher, New Media Technologist, spoke about ExploreVA and the process it took to develop this user-centered, interactive platform.

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Trends on Tuesday: Federal App Development Trends

Mobile apps meet real world needs. App development is not a homogenous process, however. Apple and Android devices are overwhelmingly dominant in device ownership and app development. So, we examined the Federal Mobile Apps Directory for iOS and Android offerings. We noticed a predominance of iOS applications: 170 apps were available on iOS, while only 93 were available on Android. So, we wondered: what makes federal app development iOS-centric?

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Are FAQs Still Relevant?

Users have questions. Your content and website navigation can help them find answers, or potentially cause frustration. One tool for answering questions is up for debate: are FAQ sections still relevant in 2015, or are they a relic of bygone days? Nielsen Norman Group recently published two articles arguing for the continued use and usefulness of FAQs: FAQs Still Deliver Great Value and An FAQs User Experience. In response, a counter opinion was released by Gerry McGovern: FAQs Are the Dinosaurs of Web Navigation.

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Meeting Customer Needs Through Social Media

Social media tools can amplify your agency’s message, but they are also a meeting space for two-way conversations. They can be a key tool to resolve user issues and deliver excellent customer service. This is true for agencies in every corner of the government space. In honor of our monthly contact center theme, we reached out to the Social Media Community of Practice to learn more about how social media complements the work of federal contact centers.

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Trends on Tuesday: The Total Market Approach

Your audience is not homogenous. No matter the agency, target audiences are not only diverse, they are diverse on a multitude of factors. Recently, evolving trends in multicultural marketing have gained attention as organizations adjust their marketing and outreach strategies to meet 21st century realities. Marketers who recognize the need for a coherent, effective multicultural strategy have turned to the Total Market Approach (TMA). A coalition of marketing agencies, clients and associations led by AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing released an industry-sanctioned definition of TMA in September.

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Updated: Live Blogging the Analytics Dashboard on #TaxDay

2 a.m. EDT, April 16 Looks like the traffic peak for #TaxDay was around 3:00 pm when 194,301 people were on government sites. We’re now less than one-quarter of that traffic, and the more regular patterns of top sites are reasserting themselves. We’re talking about YOU, NASA astronomy picture of the day and that wonderful one-armed spiral galaxy. Welcome back! And, it’s a wrap. Thanks for following along as we explored a day in the federal web.

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Multiple Languages, Single Platforms: the World Digital Library

Multilingual does not always mean multiple accounts or websites. Increasingly, multilingual content is delivered in an integrated way, with two (or more!) languages delivered on the same website, app, or social media platform. The World Digital Library (WDL) is one example of how multiple languages can be incorporated on single platforms. The WDL is a hub for cultural artifacts that includes books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, journals, photographs, sound recordings, and films.

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Monthly Theme: How Federal Contact Centers Deliver Great Customer Service

At the end of last year, DigitalGov posted an article predicting that 2016 would be the year of the customer. Stephanie Thum, Vice President of Customer Experience at Export-Import Bank, looked at the great strides made in federal customer service in 2014 and called it the year of “planting seeds.” She then pointed to 2015 as the year of “germination and nurturing.” Our DigitalGov team decided to go to the root of a lot of agency customer service: contact centers.

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Sharing Social Media Strategies: The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace Program Office

Creating a tweet, posting a photo, or updating a status may take mere seconds. However, a well-thought-out social media strategy is needed for long-term success. In fact, the recently released U.S. Public Participation Playbook mentions strategy in its very first play: clearly define and communicate your objectives. Knowing what you hope to accomplish and how you want to get there is imperative, and social media is no exception.

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Empowerment, Innovation, and Improved Health Outcomes: the Blue Button Initiative

Finding and getting access to our own health information can be a complex process. And most of us don’t really think about having our health information readily accessible until we really need it – like in the event of an emergency, or when switching doctors or traveling. Combing through stacks of paperwork and contacting providers is daunting for even the most organized among us. However, this familiar scenario is being reimagined.

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DigitalGov Monthly Theme: How Data and Code Improve Government Services

Data and code are the foundation, building blocks, and cornerstone of government digital services. They are the keys that open the door to a better digital government future and are fundamental in making government more open. No matter who you are or where you work in the federal space, data and code enable your projects to meet real needs. This month we’re featuring articles around the theme of data and code.

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Busting Myths and Building Partnerships: National Drug Facts Week

Myth-busting isn’t just for television. And through a multi-faceted, tech-savvy campaign based on strategic partnerships, one federal office has found a winning strategy for combating misinformation. National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) is a health awareness week for teenagers, with the goal of debunking myths about drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, organizes the week and reaches teens in a relevant, engaging way.

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Plain Language Web Writing Tips

On the Web, people are in a hurry. They skim and scan, looking for fast answers to their questions, so it’s important to get to the point—quickly! Help your readers complete their tasks with these Plain Language writing tips: Audience Write for your reader. Don’t write for the experts, the lawyers, or your management, unless they are your intended audience. Length Less is more!

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Persona Development Case Study: NCI and Spanish Language Outreach

Government websites need to address the needs of diverse audiences. Although translations are a first step towards engaging non-English speaking audiences, the intended audience may be alienated if information is not presented in a culturally relevant way. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) engaged in user experience research in order to better serve the U.S. Latino population. The research eventually led to the creation of Spanish language personas that NCI uses to design programs, products, and services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate.

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Avoid Weak ‘Links’ in Your Digital Chain

Users don’t like surprises. Unexpected or unwanted content undermines the credibility of your agency and frustrates users who come to your website looking for specific information. Using links appropriately in your website content is one way to build trust with users, according to an article by Kara Pernice of the Nielsen Norman Group. Here’s a real life example: If the link above led to an article about 3D printing, you’d probably be pretty annoyed right now.

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Hear My Tweet: National Museum of American History’s #HearHistory Tweetup

DC was the Silicon Valley of the 1880’s. And Alexander Graham Bell? He was more than just a telephone man. His Volta Laboratory was the premier 19th century innovation center. The work of Bell and his contemporaries is the focus of a new exhibition at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH), “Hear My Voice: Alexander Graham Bell and the Origins of Recorded Sound.” Included in the exhibit are never-before-seen lab documents as well as early recording discs.

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8 New Federal-Friendly Apps and Services

Tackling technology tasks just got easier. Recently, federal agencies negotiated eight new Terms of Service (TOS) Agreements for free apps and services. DigitalGov has an extensive list of federal-friendly TOS agreements for free products, and the list is updated as new TOS agreements are created. Cyfe Cyfe, a business dashboard app, helps users monitor diverse data streams in one location. It displays information related to social media, analytics, marketing, sales, support, and infrastructure tools.

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Building Brick by Brick: Ed.gov’s Website Redesign and Mobile Implementation

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are website redesigns. In line with the piecemeal responsive Web design implementation trend we recently highlighted, the new Ed.gov website redesign happened in three phases. In this case, budget limitations and existing content management systems (CMSs) influenced the decision-making process. “We use three different CMSs,” said Jill James, Web director at the Department of Education. “We timed the phases of our redesigns with technical upgrades that we needed to do anyway.

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Saving Energy, One Green Button at a Time

Conserving energy is not a shot in the dark. Millions of people can now shine a light on their electricity usage as a result of a dynamic public-private partnership based on open data. The goal of the Green Button Initiative is to provide electricity customers with access to their energy usage data in an easy-to-understand and computer-friendly format. Customers can click on the “Green Button” logo on participating companies’ websites and download their personal energy use information.

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NASA Reaches New Frontiers in 3D Printing

3D printing has gone out of this world. Earlier this month, DigitalGov covered the NIH 3D Print Exchange, where 3D printing is supporting scientific learning and research. Today, we’re highlighting a project that is reaching brand new heights: NASA’s In-space Manufacturing Initiative. Self-Sufficiency in Space NASA is currently conducting 3D printing experiments aboard the International Space Station. In November, a printer faceplate was the first object successfully 3D printed in space.

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Trends on Tuesday: Mobile Marketing on the Rise

Marketers are increasingly using SMS, push notifications, mobile apps, location-based functionality and other mobile-first techniques to reach constituents. That’s according to a recent article from Marketingland.com, which provided an overview of the mobile trends presented in Salesforce’s 2015 State of Marketing Report. The report was based on a survey of 5,000 marketers in 10 countries. Some notable survey results were: More than one-quarter of marketers have a mobile app (27%).

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Spanish Language Mobile Apps from Gobierno.USA.gov

In mobile app development, if you aren’t making it multilingual, you miss providing anytime, anywhere information and services to important mobile-only audiences. Regular DigitalGov readers know that we’ve touched on Hispanic mobile trends before, including the high rates of mobile usage among Hispanic millennials. Today, we’re highlighting five Spanish language apps from the Spanish Version of the USA.gov Federal Mobile Apps Directory hosted by Gobierno.USA.gov, Aplicaciones Móviles. Multilingual app development is one way federal agencies meet the diverse needs of the U.

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The Future Will Be Printed – in 3D

The use of 3D printing is growing. From kayaks to pancakes to human and canine prosthetics, a diverse array of 3D printed products have been delivered. 3D printing has also been named one of the top technology trends in 2015 that organizations should incorporate into their strategic planning. In the federal space, 3D printing is evolving. Winners of the White House 3D ornament contest were announced last month. In January, we’re highlighting projects that show how 3D printing can support diverse federal initiatives, from scientific research to space exploration.

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Great Customer Service in 140 Characters: #AskFAFSA Twitter Chats

As agencies strive for success in digital government, they often need to open their virtual doors and meet the public in new and evolving spaces. Federal Student Aid meets its audience in the 21st century public square at monthly #AskFAFSA sessions. During the live Twitter chat, students, parents and the general public can submit questions about financial aid using the #AskFAFSA hashtag. The event is held on the last Wednesday of each month, and questions are answered from the @FAFSA Twitter account from 5 pm until 6 pm, EST.

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Opening Government Through Federal Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is a critical corner of the digital government landscape, and our December theme articles have covered the topic from a variety of angles. Before we head into January, where we will discuss upcoming trends on the digital horizon, we sat down to learn more about the evolution and future direction of federal crowdsourcing initiatives as a whole. We spoke with Jenn Gustetic, Assistant Director for Open Innovation in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

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Reaching Out To Deliver Within: Crowdsourcing Internal Agency Projects

Crowdsourcing has created new paths for public interaction with the government, as we’ve been highlighting on DigitalGov with this month’s theme. However, crowdsourcing can also be used to harness support for internal agency projects. The Department of State is using crowdsourcing to find talent within and outside of government to support agency activities. Through the Virtual Student Foreign Service and CrowdWork initiatives, State benefits from new wellsprings of skills and talent.

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With Every Tool Possible: Supporting Humanitarian Aid Efforts Through Crowdsourced Mapping

Fighting malaria in Botswana with a group of high school students in D.C. Contributing to the Ebola response from the West Bank. These scenarios may not fit the typical image of humanitarian aid efforts, but technology has transformed the possibilities for public participation in international development. Crowdsourced mapping projects have become key contributors in relief efforts and highlight the collaborative work that can be done between government, non-profit organizations, and the public.

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Going “Behind the Blog” with the Law Library of Congress

Creative content can be found in all corners of the federal space. Recently, the Law Library of Congress blog, In Custodia Legis, and the United States Courts blog, The Third Branch News, were named to the ABA Journal “Blawg 100” out of 4,000 legal blogs eligible for selection. We wanted insight on their blogging success, so we spoke with Andrew Weber, Legislative Information Systems Manager for the Law Library of Congress.

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From Taste-Testers to Explorers: Developing Personas for Open Opportunities

Being customer-focused means doing the gumshoe work of research and rounds of analysis to find gold by understanding user goals. For the task-based innovation network, Open Opportunities for DigitalGov, that meant developing personas in order to overcome our own biases and learn about the different motivations of our participants. In this article, we’ll talk about how we created our personas and how we plan to use them to meet both innovators’ and program needs.

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Promoting Women’s Health Through Dynamic Multilingual Content

Sonia stands at the pharmacy counter, flashing her most brilliant smile. Jorge, the handsome neighborhood pharmacist, dispenses his own easy smile as they chat. Sound like an ordinary soap opera? This telenovela is actually a tool to help Spanish-speaking women make smart medication decisions. The four part telenovela series ¡Nunca Más! was developed by the Office of Women’s Health in the Food and Drug Administration. The office works to make all of their materials available in Spanish, and the popularity of telenovelas in the Spanish-speaking community made the project a perfect fit for delivering important health information.

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