United States Department Of Transportation

Federally Funded Research Results Are Becoming More Open and Accessible

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.

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GAO to Congress: Federal Agencies Are Making a Difference Through Open Innovation

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.

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Our New Center for Enhanced Analytics

Analytics and “big data” seem to be the next frontier in a number of arenas. Data researchers can use the large, real-time data sets that are available today to facilitate scientific discovery, improve the flow of traffic, and increase energy efficiency, among many other things. Last year, the White House appointed the first federal Chief Data Scientist. And a few months ago, the federal government released a strategy for big data research and development.

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Microsites, They’re Bigger Than You Think

Lately, we have been hearing a lot about microsites—CDC’s Zika Virus microsite provides up-to-date information on the virus—but the big question is: What are they? A microsite is a single or small collections of pages that are meant to encourage user interaction while conveying information. A microsite has the power to educate consumers regarding a specific topic or just highlight a campaign. Microsites are separate from an organization’s full website and are dedicated to serving one purpose—thus eliminating the clutter and distractions that come with a full website.

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DOT Seeking Data for New National Transit Map

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has invited transit agencies to share their schedule data to feed an upcoming National Transit Map. The new initiative won’t provide trip planning, but will make it possible for researchers, policymakers, and private citizens to identify and address gaps in access to public transportation. These gaps will be identified through the collection of transit data (including where transit stops are, how frequent transit service is, and where transit routes go.

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The Data Briefing: Create an App for Employees with Disabilities

Have you worked with an employee with a disability? Are you an employee with a disability? Then, you know the unique challenges of the average workplace that able-bodied colleagues may never experience. Workplace challenges could be overcome with accommodations such as larger computer monitor displays, wheelchair-accessible office furniture or a voice reader. In some cases, a mobile app is a solution to a workplace challenge. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

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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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DigitalGov Summit Recap: Building Privacy & Identity Management in the Open

How can government protect citizens while delivering the services they demand in the modern age? This was a theme of the panel discussion on privacy and identity management at the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. “Cybersecurity has really come a long way in the last 10 years, unifying the conversation about risk across organizations,” said Sean Brooks, panelist and privacy engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), “but privacy has really lagged behind.

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Five-Star Customer Experience in Public Service with Yelp

Adding customer satisfaction ratings and reviews to public services just got easier now that Yelp offers a terms of service for official government use. Yelp, a Web and mobile-based user review platform, hosts insights from “real people giving their honest and personal opinions on everything from restaurants and spas to coffee shops.” With the addition of Public Services and Government under the Yelp umbrella, agencies can continue to find new ways to use customer insights to improve citizen services.

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Using Section 508 Guidance to Improve the Accessibility of Government Services

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies to use accessible information and communication technology (ICT), whether procured, developed, or maintained. Since the U.S. Access Board issued regulations for the law in 2000, much implementation guidance has been prepared by various agencies. While the regulations are being refreshed to account for changes in ICT over the years, we can take advantage of existing guidance that applies accessibility guidelines in contemporary contexts.

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Booking a Discount Bus Ticket? Check Carrier Safety Records with QCMobile

The new app from the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration called “QCMobile” empowers U.S. motorists to make safety their highest priority on the roadways this spring. This is a continued theme in DOT’s mobile strategy, as they have also recently released the SaferRide app. QCMobile (QC stands for “Query Central”) is a free download for anyone interested in reviewing the DOT registration and safety performance information of motor carriers.

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How Government will Accelerate Anytime, Anywhere Services and Information in 2015

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.

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New NHTSA App Uses Yelp API

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently unveiled a new mobile app to help people who have been drinking get a safe ride home. The ‘SaferRide’ mobile app, gives holiday revelers an easy way to find a ride home when they’ve had too much to drink instead of getting behind the wheel. The app encourages potential drunk drivers to stay off of the road by helping them contact a close friend, find their location, and connect directly to a taxi company to secure a safe ride.

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SaferRide App Could Save Your Life

One death every 52 minutes. That’s how frequently someone died in crashes involving a drunk driver in the U.S. in 2013—10,076 deaths in total. While that number represents a 2.5% reduction in deaths from the previous year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is offering a new mobile app—called SaferRide—to save more lives. Simply put, SaferRide helps people who have been drinking to get a safe ride home.

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Crowdsourcing Month: An Overview

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.

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2nd U.S. Public Participation Playbook Draft Responds to Public Contributions

The new second draft of the U.S. Public Participation Playbook incorporates changes that were proposed from nearly 100 suggestions submitted after the first week of public comment, with more improvements to come. We still need your contributions for this groundbreaking new collaborative resource to measurably improve our participatory public services across government, and would like to take this opportunity to share what we have learned so far.

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Rail Crossing Locator App Now Available on a Second Platform

You don’t need to be a rail buff to want to download the Federal Railroad Administration Rail Crossing Locator app. Parents, outdoor enthusiasts, emergency responders, school officials, motorists and many others will find value in locating area highway-rail crossings. The aim of the app is public safety and the Department of Transportation (DOT) recently added an Android version of the app. The Rail Crossing Locator app uses your current location to display nearby points on a map where a railway line crosses a road or path, as opposed to when a railway line crosses over or under a road via a bridge or tunnel.

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The API Briefing: Brainstorming Ideas for Apps

Data.gov has 130,000+ datasets (as of November 3, 2014) many of which are designed for application developers. In previous columns, I’ve showcased some of the great applications built using federal APIs. Have you wondered where the idea for an app came from? Some developers start with an idea and then look for the API that best fits the idea. For example, a developer may want to create an app that alerts users of unsafe bus or limousine companies.

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What’s Happening with the Internet of Things?

No Mobile Gov Month on DigitalGov would be complete without an update on the Internet of Things. Regardless if you’re talking wearables, smart homes, sensors or any other connected device, your current mobile approaches will be impacted—as will your social media, user experience and data strategies. When we last visited the topic in April, discussion in the federal government was minimal. That’s no longer the case. Just this month there were multiple panels about it at the Tech-In-State: Mobile Diplomacy event and the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) was very active at the 2nd Annual Internet of Things Global Summit where FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez gave a keynote about challenges around IOT.

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This Weekend: Event List for Civic Hacking

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.

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Five Years of Open Data—Making a Difference

In May 2009, Data.gov was an experiment. There were questions: would people use the data? would agencies share the data? and would it make a difference? We’ve all come a long, long way to answering those questions, starting with only 47 datasets and having 105,000 datasets today. We realized that this was never simply about opening up government data, but rather about growing and nurturing an open data ecosystem to improve the lives of citizens.

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The SaferCar App

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has created a new iOS app that provides real-time vehicle safety information to consumers from NHTSA’s SaferCar.gov site The new SaferCar app gives consumers immediate access to key safety information to help them make informed decisions, with features including: 5-Star Safety Ratings: Consumers considering vehicle purchases can look up crash test ratings and compare them across different makes and models.

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Agency Digital Strategy Pages

In his May 23rd, 2012 Presidential Memorandum, President Obama directed Executive Departments and Agencies to: Implement the requirements of the Digital Government Strategy, and Create a page at www.[agency].gov/digitalstrategy to publicly report progress of this implementation. Consistent with Milestone Actions #2.1 (open data) and #7.1 (mobile optimization), agencies will post candidate data sets and services to open up over the next several months on these pages.

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