Around Q3, I was looking for way to test the HTML and CSS of an online application that was to be public-facing. At first, my office’s plan was to connect mobile devices to the network owned by federal employees on a volunteer basis for testing. All of a sudden, a new policy came down that stated, “devices that were not purchased by the agency could not be connected to the network.
National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration
Daily imagery data taken by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera is now accessible via a RESTful API available from the NASA API Portal. The Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) is an instrument aboard NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite, which orbits at Earth’s Lagrange point, the sweet spot in space where the gravitational tug of the Earth and the Sun is equal. This allows DSCOVR to maintain a stable position between the Earth and Sun and thus a continuous view of the sunlit side of Earth.
Summary: Significant strides in improving public access to scholarly publications and digital data help usher in an era of open science. This week marks the 8th annual Open Access Week, when individuals and organizations around the world celebrate the value of opening up online access to the results of scholarly research. It is an opportune time to highlight the considerable progress that Federal departments and agencies have made increasing public access to the results of Federally-supported scientific research and advancing the broader notion of open science.
Widgets, Mobile Apps, and SMS: Essential Agency Tools for Summer Heat Safety, Hurricane Season, and Emergency Preparedness
According to recent Pew Research Center surveys, 45 percent of American adults have tablets and 68 percent have smartphones. While the majority of smartphone owners use their mobile devices to keep up with breaking news and stay informed about what is happening in their communities, nearly half, 40 percent, also reported using their smartphones to look up government services or information. As is the case each summer, most of the U.
The debate between responsive websites and mobile apps took a decisive turn this week when the United Kingdom’s Digital Service (UKDS) banned the creation of mobile apps. In an interview with GovInsider, the founder of UKDS, Ben Terrett, explained that mobile apps were too expensive to build and maintain. Responsive websites were easier to build and updating the application only requires changing one platform. “For government services that we were providing, the web is a far far better way… and still works on mobile,” Terrett said.
Opening up government to better serve the American people has been a key priority of this Administration from day one. On his first full day in office, President Obama signed the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, ushering in a new era of open and accountable government. Since then, the Administration has continued to take unprecedented steps to make government more efficient and effective, including launching Data.gov, establishing the international Open Government Partnership, and signing an Executive Order on Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information.
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.
Someone has a problem they are trying to solve. They pull out their mobile device and find a solution. They move onto something else. That’s a mobile moment. Organizations are living and dying by their mobile moments, and a few government agencies are winning theirs. We’ve written before how the Transportation Security Administration is winning their “What Can I Bring…” moment at airports while taxpayers are engaing around the IRS2Go “Where’s My Refund?
Earlier this year, we published 15 Government Customer Service Trends for 2015. We’re halfway through the year now—how are these trends holding up? 1. Centralized Customer Offices A few agencies have created centralized customer offices, while others question the need for a single organization that focuses on the customer. As the public’s overall satisfaction with the federal government continues to fall, a single organization can monitor customer feedback from across the enterprise to identify and address problems with the customer experience (CX).
Mobile. It’s here, and it’s here to stay! Agencies in all areas of government meet real world needs through mobile products. Creating effective mobile products requires planning, however. Agencies who have created native apps outlined three areas they considered in the mobile development process: strategy, business requirements and measuring value. Strategy Before creating a mobile product, you must analyze how it will fit into your agency’s strategy. Not only is this information essential in justifying the need for mobile, it also will help quantify the application’s value when you examine mobile metrics.
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.
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.
Mobile-friendliness is a must for government. But mobilizing the whole digital enchilada takes time due to various challenges, as experiences from the Department of Education and National Park Service have illustrated. Many agencies are thinking big things for 2015, but if your agency is struggling with that first mobile implementation, you will be asking yourself where to start. Think mobile moments! The mobile moments concept has been popularized by Forrester analysts Julie Ask and Ted Schadler.
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.
I grew up when home computers were first being introduced to the general public. I bought my first computer, a Commodore 64, after spending a summer of mowing lawns and saving up my birthday and Christmas money. It was not until I entered college that I became an infopreneur. Infopreneurs are entrepreneurs who used computers and data sources to provide information products and services. My specialty was compiling information from the university’s collection of CD-ROMs that they received from various government agencies.
The increasing presence of big data and all things digital will require the federal government to hire more techies. The skills brought by techies will help the federal government, but we also must consider that success in the federal government will require more than the skills they bring. The techies may be from the private sector and not completely understand the nuances of working in a federal agency.
Citizen scientists, stand up! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) improve the accuracy of magnetic navigation by tracking changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. All you need is your smartphone, loaded with NOAA’s awesome CrowdMag app. In this era of GPS and other geospatial technologies, why is this mission important? It’s because technologies like GPS have limitations.
Big news in the technology world as Microsoft unveiled HoloLens and Microsoft’s use of holographic computing in the upcoming Windows 10 release. Holographic computing or augmented reality uses computer-generated images that are overlaid on real world videos. For example, a user can view a car through their smartphone. An app can project information such as make and model, fuel mileage, and other facts onto a real-time view of a particular car.
Social media for public service is a diverse field that uses platforms and data from both the private and public sectors to improve citizen services, make them easier to access and deliver them more cost effectively. It is not just public affairs or communications, but spreads into customer service, resource development and more. Many of the best examples of social media in government can’t be seen on the surface of a tweet or post, but in how these collaborative, engaging strategies improve the processes of public services themselves.
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.
In December of 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued the first Policies for Federal Public Websites. Over the past decade, we’ve seen technology completely transform how government delivers information and services to the public. On this 10-year anniversary, we’re taking a walk down memory lane to recap some of the pivotal moments that have shaped today’s digital government landscape. Year Activity 2004 February—Facebook launches (for colleges; opens to the public 2007) March—Interagency Committee on Government Information (ICGI) convenes to draft Web recommendations June—ICGI issues Recommendations for Federal Web Policies July—ICGI becomes the Web Content Management Working Group (predecessor to Federal Web Managers Council) August—HHS publishes its seminal Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines (foundation for Usability.
If there was one thing we learned on September 11, 2001, it’s that you can never be too prepared for a disaster of any magnitude. September is aptly named** National Preparedness Month** and the government’s #PrepareAthon campaign—led by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA)—is under way, culminating in National PrepareAthon! Day, September 30. What better way to show your patriotism this Patriot Day than to commit to be prepared should a disaster should strike your community.
How can you find the top 5 users of your open data? We were recently asked this question on the Open Data listserv, and while this information can be a good measure of success for open data programs, we also figured some of the answers shared would be of interest to the broader community. This blog post seeks to summarize and clarify those answers. What Defines a Top Third-Party Developer?
You don’t have to try too hard to get people into the water during summer. But swimming the healthy and safe way? Well, everyone could use help on that. Whether you are a swimmer, lifeguard, pool attendant or sun-loving spectator, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s Healthy Swimming iPhone/iPad app is for you. With a simple click or two, find the most accurate information about: Where we swim: Pool or ocean?
Hurricane Arthur, the first named storm of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, made landfall in North Carolina, July 3, as a Category 2 hurricane. It was no Sandy, but Arthur nevertheless reminds us to be prepared now and always. As we say at NOAA, “It only takes one.” That “one” could be a hurricane or wildfire or any disaster or extreme event. If after a disaster you find yourself with only a mobile device in hand as your most convenient or sole Internet access point, a redesigned FEMA website might come as a small bit of relief.
This week over 16,000 business leaders and data visionaries from around the world will convene for the 2014 Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) Users Conference in San Diego. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathy Sullivan, and Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Dr. Mark Doms will join representatives from Census and NOAA to highlight the work of the Commerce Department over the last year and to share their vision for the Commerce Department’s data transformation in the coming year.
The API Briefing: How APIs Provide Localized Information – NOAA’s Weather Service Data and FCC’s Broadband Services Map
The two featured APIs this week are excellent demonstrations of personalizing federal government data by where a user lives. Federal agencies collect a considerable amount of community data, from the Census Bureau’s surveys to the FDA’s local agricultural conditions. Thanks to GPS, app developers can locate a user’s immediate geographical location and tailor information based on the latitude and longitude coordinates. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has an API that provides current conditions and a four-day forecast by locating the nearest NOAA station to the user’s geographical coordinates.
The rise of mobile device ownership is rapidly changing the way we, and our stakeholders, interact with organizations and information. From local weather to the status of our train, we look to our smartphones to not only provide the answers, but anticipate our questions. Forrester refers to this behavior as the mobile moment—a point in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what he or she wants immediately, in context.
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.
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.
Our fabulous colleague Jeanne Holm is ready for the #hackforchange events this weekend and summarized some tips, notes and links to resources on Data.gov. Great things will happen this weekend! Remember, if you hear about great uses of government data, let everyone know by tweeting #hackforchange or mention @usdatagov. The Data.gov team is organizing a webinar in a week, showcasing some of the best outcomes and hosting lightning talks by the developers and designers.
The road to more user-friendly government websites does not have to be long and scary. In fact, there is a growing network of people and resources to guide you along the way. My office in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been fortunate enough to benefit from some of this support, most recently in the form of a “usability walkthrough.” Where the Road Begins We were coming off the heels of having completely redesigned and relaunched our website, response.
While it does provide challenges, anytime, anywhere digital government provides numerous opportunities for contact centers to do business more effectively. According to this study by Compare Business Products, one of the most important impacts for contact centers is that smartphone users can now connect with contact centers via voice calls, SMS messages, Internet pages, social media video chat and native apps. While mobile is changing user habits, the study states, “those contact centers that are able to embrace these channels and make it easy for customers to contact them through any of these at their whim will naturally be those that rise to the top of the pile and impress their customers.
For a small shop with a small staff, limited time, and a small budget, redesigning a website (and testing that redesign for usability) can be daunting. At least it seemed so to us when we redesigned the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Ocean Service website in November of 2013. We met the challenge by keeping things simple. One solution was to adopt the popular, open-source Twitter Bootstrapframework, which is very flexible and well documented.
NOAA Fisheries to help you identify and aid stranded or injured dolphins and whales. The Dolphin & Whale 911 app (Android and iOS) will enhance accurate and timely reporting of stranded marine mammals in the Southeastern U.S. This app will allow you to Report dead, injured or entangled marine mammals by connecting you to the nearest stranding response hotline, so that trained responders and veterinarians can treat the animal (App only works in Southeastern US- stay tuned for expansion to additional geographic areas).
Mariners now have an anytime, anywhere resource to aid in the reduction of ship and right whale collisions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in collaboration with other groups in both the private and public sector, has developed an app for the iPhone and iPad which helps to reduce collisions between ships and the endangered right whales. By providing existing NOAA data and information in one easy to access location displayed on NOAA nautical charts, in addition real time GPS position tracking, vessel operators are more easily able to avoid collision with whales.