The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) is a small agency in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) whose mission is to increase the interoperability and use of electronic health records and health IT. We don’t have the funding and personnel of larger agencies, and, for the most part, this is fine. The entrenched industry stakeholders know what’s happening at ONC, our policies, toolkits and initiatives. But to be truly innovative, we need input from more than just the big stakeholders, particularly in this age of smartphones and apps.
The open source movement has changed how we develop software, create content, and even do science. Using a community to help complete projects and bring about change has become so ubiquitous in the last ten years that it has even earned a name — crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is a powerful tool and is now being used to help organizations digitally transform. “Driving successful change in a large organization has always been one of the most difficult activities in business… .
Federal agencies confront tough problems every day. In searching for solutions, agencies will want to attract different perspectives, test new products, build capacity and communities, and increase public awareness. How do they do it? The answer: open innovation. Federal agencies need to engage and collaborate with all sectors of society, a task made easier by online technologies, says a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued last week. OPEN INNOVATION: Practices to Engage Citizens and Effectively Implement Federal Initiatives is accompanied by an infographic and podcast, all well worth your while.
Come out and join us on Saturday, October 22, 2016 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm for a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on Gender Equality in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Register for this event today! Help us improve Wikipedia entries related to gender equality with the National Archives and Records Administration. You do not need to have prior experience editing Wikipedia. During the event we will have an introduction to editing Wikipedia and a discussion of World War I Nurses and Red Cross records in the National Archives.
The Law Library acquired a large collection from William S. Hein & Co., Inc. to make all volumes of several collections (like the Federal Register) available in open access to researchers. Preparing these files by adding metadata for easy searching takes a lot of work, so this summer we asked law students and library students from across the country to help become our “crowd” in order to crowdsource metadata for a collection of 542 volumes of U.
What is Citizen Science? A Recent Webinar Explores How the Federal Government Engages the Public via Crowdsourcing
From the National Park Service (NPS) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of citizen science has become a prominent factor in the science community and a critical tool for the federal government. A recent DigitalGov University (DGU) webinar provides an introduction to the concept and shows how the federal government is using it to engage the public and address important issues. The federal government has seen a surge of citizen science initiatives thanks to several developments, starting with a memo from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) that outlined ways agencies can use citizen science.
If federal agencies need an incentive to be more open and innovative in addressing critical issues, they need look no further than news this week from the White House. On August 10, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued its Implementation of Federal Prize Authority Progress Report for fiscal year 2015, and it’s chock-full of examples of how agencies have advanced their missions through crowdsourcing and open competition.
User-Generated Content (UGC) is a buzzword as of late, popularized recently due to the ever increasing demand for new content. To define the phrase, let’s look to a shining example of it,Wikipedia, as a source, “any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats,tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements, and other forms of media that was created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites.
We’re thrilled to announce the Space Apps 2016 Global Award Winners!! These projects well represent the best of the best innovative thinking this year. Congratulations to all the teams. We look forward to seeing you at an upcoming NASA launch in Florida. Best Use of Data: Scintilla, created at the Space Apps Pasadena, California main stage event, mitigates the impact of poor air quality in the global community by democratizing air quality data collection.
The White House this week released a report detailing the impact of 100 initiatives that have expanded U.S. capacity in science, technology and innovation over the past eight years. Evident throughout the report is the influence of Challenge.gov and CitizenScience.gov, two open innovation programs managed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). In fact, among the top 15 examples in the report are the increased use of prize competitions and expanded opportunities for citizen science and crowdsourcing, both areas where GSA is helping to lead the charge.
Challenge.gov, the official website for crowdsourcing and prize competitions across government, celebrated its five-year anniversary in October 2015. Now, not even one year later, the site has reached another milestone. On Monday, two agencies launched new challenges, bringing the total number of competitions on Challenge.gov across the 700 mark. The 700th challenge, Start a SUD Startup, comes from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The challenge looks to award biomedical scientists up to $100,000 to help transition their research ideas into viable business opportunities.
Americans Use Public Data to Improve the Lives of Fellow Citizens Data is one of our most important national assets. It informs our policy and our national priorities. But as we have seen time and time again, the most effective way to govern is to engage with the public directly. Thanks to the President’s Executive Order requiring that agencies make data open, we are democratizing access to data.
Cognitive computing has been receiving a good deal of attention lately as more companies have been building intelligent agents. Ever since IBM Watson’s 2011 appearance on Jeopardy, cognitive computing has spread into healthcare, investing and even veterinary medicine. However, it is only recently that cognitive computing has spread into government applications. As the name implies, cognitive computing is where computers operate much like the way people think. Computers use data mining techniques, pattern recognition algorithms and natural language processing to search a large set of unstructured data to find solutions.
Last month, I worked to create a “Citizen Science Passport” for the federal agencies participating in the USA Science and Engineering Festival. Seven federal agencies offered some form of crowdsourcing or citizen science activity at their booths such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s exhibit on food safety or Environmental Protection Agency’s build-your-own air monitoring kit. Attendees would participate in each of the agency’s citizen science activity to receive a stamp on their passport.
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.
Do you have a scientific issue to address? Wish you had dozens, hundreds, even thousands more people helping you out? There’s help out there, and now that help is easier than ever to find. The General Services Administration (GSA) yesterday launched CitizenScience.gov, a new central hub for citizen science and crowdsourcing projects across the federal government. Like Challenge.gov before it, this new site makes it easier for federal agencies to collaborate with each other and seek help from the American public to address critical issues.
A government can accomplish nothing without the ingenuity of its people. This is why the federal government is committed to using online tools to make its problem-solving more open and collaborative. A growing number of agencies are testing the applications of crowdsourcing and citizen science to accomplish more, and in many cases, do things faster and better. Case in point: the National Archives and Records Administration’s Citizen Archivist Dashboard, which coordinates tagging and transcribing of historical records and documents.
Cook-offs, bike rides, parades and dance parties—these are not the traditional public hearing-style events for which government agencies are known. But these events helped to fuel the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rebuild by Design Challenge (PDF, 484 KB, 1 page, January 2016), boosting the collective morale among a complex, multidisciplinary network of engaged stakeholders. Because the challenge’s community structure was based on a common goal—to rebuild following Hurricane Sandy—participants left their egos at home, shared information and learned from one another.
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.
This month we’re highlighting articles about challenge competitions and crowdsourcing across the federal government. Federal agencies can gain a wealth of ideas, services, solutions and products by asking a large, diverse crowd to contribute their talents and skills. Simply put, crowdsourcing means engaging the crowd. Often referred to as a form of open collaboration or innovation, crowdsourcing takes many forms, including challenges (or prize competitions), hackathons, data jams, code-a-thons, workplace surveys, open ideation, micro-tasks or micro-work, citizen science, and crowdfunding.
NASA recently announced the winners of a smartwatch app interface competition. A Canadian duo won the design competition, and NASA’s plan is to build the app with 2016 funding to have it available for astronauts to use when they are aboard the International Space Station. This is the first government smartwatch app development we’ve talked about on DigitalGov and an example of a great mobile moment use case. Not only is the smart app interesting (see the UI images!
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.
The rise in mobile device usage has created a rise in expectations: the public wants new and innovative interactions with all organizations, including government. Incorporating social media in mobile websites and native apps is one way federal agencies have increased public interaction. Six agencies have leveraged native app functionality for crowdsourcing purposes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) leads the way with three public-facing applications that transform ordinary citizens into citizen scientists: Dolphin and Whale 911, Release Mako and CrowdMag.
When people hear about challenge competitions, they most often ask about the results. What worked and why did it work? Two great examples are featured on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy site, which include the “needle in the haystack” solvers for a space mass competition and eleven entrepreneurial start-ups that are using breast cancer research. You’ll also read about how the Federal Community of Practice for Challenges and Prizes is creating a toolkit with user-centered design that ultimately will be developed into an interactive resource for government agencies to run incentive competitions, from conception through to implementation.
I recently found an app that provides a great service through crowdsourcing. Be My Eyes connects visually-impaired people with volunteers. Using the smartphone’s camera, the volunteers can perform tasks such as reading an expiration date or helping someone navigate unfamiliar surroundings. This is not a federal app, but I wanted to highlight it to demonstrate how crowdsourcing apps can make it easy for everyone to make a difference through microtasks.
iPlover is a new app from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for data collection about habitats on coastal beaches and the environment surrounding them. That sounds like a really difficult and important task, but luckily for us, the app is designed for trained and vetted professionals. It is an example of another federal crowdsourcing app, but for experts. The app is actually intended for use by USGS officials and partners and will not function without an approved log-in.
Innovative wearables, stronger wifi and more 3D printing have been among the many projections for the future of mobile in 2015. Whatever comes to pass, we can be certain that the anytime, anywhere user will develop new habits and desires based on new trends. Government must accelerate its customer service approach with anytime, anywhere efforts to keep up. Here’s what I see agencies will have to do to keep up and–just maybe get ahead–in 2015.
“I tell the interns: In this lab, we’re all about failure. If you’re not failing, you’re not really doing anything.” –Sam Droege, USGS biologist, in Audubon magazine The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is actively working with citizen scientists to discover, collect, and organize a variety of scientific data that is critical for the future of understanding broad trends and findings across a variety of categories—from geological mapping to tracking bird species.
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).
While we’re anticipating the Section 508 refresh, many government digital media teams are facing the task of incorporating WCAG 2.0 standards (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) in their projects despite having limited staff resources and budget constraints. We can use creative solutions, such as crowdsourcing, to overcome those challenges and make our works accessible. Our teams can call on the public to share their time and skills at events or in projects where they’ll work with others to solve accessibility problems in design, development, content, etc.
We’ve had an excellent year of training and community events for the federal challenge and prize community, so for the month of December DigitalGov University has taken a look at the events we’ve hosted this year and rounded them up in line with this month’s Crowdsourcing theme. On Wednesday, December 10, the Challenge and Prize Community of Practice hosted its quarterly in-person meeting to highlight the roles and responsibilities that Challenge.
Mobile devices allow the public to interact with government in new and game-changing ways and users expect those interactions. As a result, many agencies are taking advantage of native apps for crowdsourcing projects. The White House Open Government Initiative recently 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”)…” In addition, they highlighted some native applications like the Federal Communications Commission Speed Test App and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s mPing as good practices in mobile crowdsourcing.
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.
Crowdsourcing and prize competitions can take many forms, which makes them a great open innovation tool. A large group of federal agencies and other partners has launched a competition that also involves a secondary crowdsourcing element. The Nutrient Sensor Challenge is a market stimulation prize competition to accelerate the development of affordable, accurate, and reliable sensors for measuring nutrient levels in water. Nutrients are a natural part of ecosystems, but too much nitrogen and phosphorus causes big problems: harmful algal blooms can make pets and children sick, green water can shut down recreation, and species kills can result from impaired water conditions.
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.
In May 2015, we’re hosting the second DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit “Spring 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit”). This round we are looking to you—federal innovators across government—to help build the agenda. We want to get you the information you need, ignite discussion, foster sharing, build capacity, even get you to challenge and debate each other in the name of delivering better digital services. So, we’ve set up a crowdsourcing platform where you can suggest presentation ideas and vote for your favorites.
In one sense, almost any type of user research is crowdsourced—you’re talking to people and using that information to improve your system. But in a true sense, crowdsourcing is more than just collecting information, it’s collaborating on it. We want to have real conversations, not one-time emailed suggestions without followups. So here’s a few tidbits on crowdsourcing User Experience (UX) for your site, mobile app, API or whatever else you’ve got cooking:
This month we’ll be highlighting articles about crowdsourcing. These are the programs that use a variety of online mechanisms to get ideas, services, solutions, and products by asking a large, diverse crowd to contribute their expertise, talents, and skills. Among the mechanisms are hackathons, data jams, code-a-thons, prize competitions, workplace surveys, open ideation, micro-tasks or microwork, citizen science, crowdfunding, and more. A brief look at history outlines a few notable prize competitions, crowdsourcing where solvers are given a task and winners are awarded a prize: The X-Prize and its many iterations from personal space flight to unlocking the secrets of the ocean, Charles Lindburgh’s flight across the Atlantic for the Orteig Prize, and the 300 year-old Longitude Prize, launched by an act of Parliament in Britain to determine a ship’s longitude with the goal of reducing shipwrecks.
If you have a hand in contracts for crowdsourcing initiatives and challenge and prize competitions, here are some helpful hints for you. We’ve gathered this list from the expert businesses that provide competition services. Haven’t heard about that? See GSA Schedule 541-4G. Background: Over the last two years, competition providers and consultants have become more specialized in niche areas where they have expertise, access to specific solver communities, and experience in driving outcomes based on the competition structure and goals.
Challenge and prize competitions are competitive and not always squeaky clean. There is money at stake, pride, honor, and awards. So this Quartz/NexGov article, Crowdsourcing Behavior Encourages Malicious Behavior, Study Finds, that highlights the ugly side of competitions hits a raw nerve. The University of Southampton in the UK and the National Information and Communications Technology Australia (NICTA) conducted the study, examining recent crowdsourcing competitions. Crowdsourcing generally espouses openness and broad-based cooperation, but the researchers explained that it also brings out people’s worst competitive instincts.
The Art of Social Media by mkhmarketing CC BY 2.0 The more public information is digitized, the more it lands on or sprouts from social media channels. This is why there needs to be a greater level of awareness and consideration for those who can benefit most from that information—people with disabilities—since they have the least access to it. Like many websites, social media platforms present some of the greatest barriers in digital accessibility.
Mobile devices are moving closer to the center of the social universe, according to this Sproutsocial article. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are overwhelmingly used on the go. Comscore predicts that there will be increasing monetization via social in the coming years. In the banking industry, where data shows many people have stopped going to brick and mortar banks, tying mobile and social together is critical. Organizations are increasingly adopting a SoLoMo approach in which they leverage the interplay between social, local and mobile.
Got innovation? Well, we do! On Wednesday May 28, the Challenge.gov team gathered the Challenges and Prizes Community of Practice. The group covered two topics: Highlights from challenge competitions run in 2013. Concepts and tips for working with solvers to build teams. Cristin Dorgelo, Assistant Director for Grand Challenges at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, shared the results of a recent report on challenge and prize competitions conducted under America COMPETES Act Authority.
As highlighted in this Trends on Tuesday post, time spent on mobile phones—about 3 hours per day—has surpassed that of daily PC usage. This yields a significant opportunity for consumer interaction with federal agencies’ mobile apps, not just websites, and social media outlets. To take advantage of new opportunities for consumer interaction, federal agencies are implementing social media as part of their mobile products. We surveyed the mobile products submitted to the Federal Apps Registry to see how agencies are incorporating social media into their mobile products.
After leading a complex effort to crowdsource ideas to solve a problem facing your agency, the last thing you want to hear is that the innovative solutions you received don’t actually help remedy the issue. More than 20 federal innovators recently took part in a workshop offered to avoid such a scenario. The Department of Homeland Security’s Meredith Lee, who also serves as the volunteer lead for the Federal Ideation Community of Practice (ICOP), led the participants through various exercises to help agencies learn to identify and define the problems they face; a key part of the process of any ideation exercise and/or challenge competition.
There is some confusion about how “ideation” fits into challenge and prize competitions. Often, we hear from agencies that they would like to ask the public for ideas, to survey them on a specific question, or to request proposals in response to a problem. And all of these things could be challenge competitions. But often they are not because they’re missing critical elements. A challenge competition: Has a clear problem statement and ask Offers a prize incentive Addresses intellectual property (IP) rights Has criteria for judging entries AND Includes a plan for development and/or implementation We studied successful ideation competitions, talked with our colleagues in the challenge and prize community, the ideation community, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to come to a consensus on these points.
Federal agencies now have the ability to create a challenge competition website that accepts submissions and allows public voting with a new, no-cost tool. The Challenge.gov team unveiled and demonstrated the capabilities of GSA’s new crowdsourcing and prize competition platform, Challenge.sites.usa.gov on a DigitalGov University webinar. The platform is now available for any federal employee to log in and explore its functionality (just be careful not to publish anything not intended to be public).
This is a phenomenal month for federal challenge and prize competitions with 12 new programs launched in February. The challenge.gov platform usually averages four to six new challenges a month, so we’re excited to see the year start off with a big push to engage citizens in creative problem solving. Take a look and see what these agencies are doing to drive innovation: White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is taking the well-known slogan, “See something, say something,”__ to the crowd. Consider it more “See something, submit something.” Harnessing the power of citizen intelligence to understand and respond to disasters, FEMA in late 2013 launched a new feature in its iOS/Android app that crowd-sources photos of disasters and extreme events. “Disaster Reporter” enables people to upload photos of disaster scenes with short captions, which, after a quick vetting process, are then plotted by location on an interactive map.
This week the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released its second comprehensive report detailing the use of federal challenge and prize competitions. Read it and you’ll find details about the fiscal benefits of more than 300 competitions implemented by 45 agencies. As the report released today makes clear, agencies made big strides in the challenge arena in FY 2012. In FY 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began establishing strategies to expand its use of the new prize authority – and by FY 2012, HHS emerged as a leader in implementing prize programs, offering 18 prize competitions, many conducted through public-private partnerships.
Thanks to the tremendous work of challenge managers across federal government and the support of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, the Challenge.gov program at GSA has been named one of the top 5 finalists in Harvard’s Innovations in American Government Award! We are honored to be among this group, after rigorous competition from all levels of government. Join us in congratulating all the finalists today. And a big pat on the back to the hundreds of champions at 59 agencies who worked on the 300+ public prize competitions to-date.
_ Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)._ The Release Mako App was created for fisherman to report their catch and releases of shortfin mako sharks in real time. Why We Did It The NOAA Fisheries Shortfin Mako Live Release Program started as a website. The idea was to create a public outreach campaign to have fisherman submit their shark catches to promote the live release of shortfin mako sharks.