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Data

Machine Learning Paired with Skilled Data Scientists is the Future of Data-Driven Decision Making

Although the term Machine Learning (ML) was coined in 1959, it’s advancement and development has never been more critical than it is today, particularly within government agencies. As the amount of data being produced, manipulated, and stored exponentially increases, so does the very real threat of cyber-security breaches and fraud. Meanwhile, federal budgets and staff resources continue to decrease. ML can provide high-value services for federal agencies including data management and analytics, security threat detection, and process improvement—but the list does not stop there.

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The Data Briefing: How to Build a Chatbot in a Weekend

The best way to learn a new technical skill is to just play around with the technology. Learning through playing with technology goes for building websites, mobile apps, and now, chatbots. As chatbots have become more popular, some online sites will let you create a chatbot with little or no programming. Now, realize that the easier it is to create the chatbot, the less sophisticated the chatbot will be. However, you may not need a sophisticated chatbot that can handle almost any situation.

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The Data Briefing: Will Artificial Intelligence Tools Replace or Augment Federal Employees?

A Washington, D.C. think tank recently released reports advocating using artificial intelligence (AI) tools to reorganize the federal government. There has been a larger debate about the effects of automation on the private sector and the American economy, but this appears to be one of the few reports focusing on the federal government. According to the think tank, the U.S. government “could yield $23.9 billion in reduced personnel costs and a reduction in the size of the federal workforce by 288,000.

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The Data Briefing: How Blockchain’s Future Growth Will Affect Federal Agencies

Over a year ago, I wrote about the potential of new chatbot blockchain digital autonomous organizations. I was excited about the possibilities of how the emerging technologies of chatbots and blockchains would merge to create the digital autonomous organizations and what this could mean for delivering government services. Since then, 2017 has being called the “Year of the Chatbot” because of the rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and the explosion of tools that make it easy to create chatbots.

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Emerging Tech and Open Data for a More Open and Accountable Government

Open data and emerging technologies—including artificial intelligence and distributed ledgers, such as blockchain—hold vast potential to transform public services held back by bureaucracy and outdated IT systems. We are opening the doors to bold, fresh ideas for government accountability, transparency and citizen participation by working with U.S. businesses, civil society groups and others to shape national goals for emerging technologies and open data in public services. At our upcoming collaborative workshop, Emerging Technology and Open Data for a More Open Government, we invite new partners to help craft potential goals to be integrated into the fourth U.

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NIST Publishes NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework

Categorizing and Describing Cybersecurity Work for the Nation The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) is pleased to announce the release of Special Publication 800-181, the NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework. This publication serves as a fundamental reference to support a workforce capable of meeting an organization’s cybersecurity needs. It provides organizations with a common, consistent lexicon that categorizes and describes cybersecurity work by Category, Specialty Area, and Work Role. It is a resource from which organizations or sectors can develop additional publications or tools that meet their needs to define or provide guidance on different aspects of workforce development, planning, training, and education.

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Check out Data.gov’s New Metrics Page

Data.gov recently updated its Metrics{.local-link} page to provide greater detail and transparency to the progress of the Data.gov catalog. Data.gov is primarily a metadata catalog, providing information about, and links to, open datasets made available by federal agencies and participating non-federal sources such as state, county, and city governments. Data.gov features metadata such as title, description, keywords, contact information, and access or download links for nearly 200,000 datasets. Data.gov obtains the metadata from federal and non-federal government sources that maintain their metadata following a specific schema.

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The Data Briefing: Ten Years of Digital Transformation—Lessons Learned

Since 2007, a major consulting firm has conducted an annual survey on organizations’ “Digital IQ.” In the ten years of organizations grappling with digital transformation, what has been learned? From the report: Focus on the human experience [emphasis in the original]: Rethink how you define and deliver digital initiatives, consider employee and customer interactions at every step of the way, invest in creating a culture of tech innovation and adoption, and much more.

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‘Cybersecuring’ the Internet of Things

I recently had the chance to talk with the legendary Vint Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the internet. We had a wide-ranging discussion about the past, present and future of the internet, network security and what it would take to successfully, safely and reliably merge the digital and physical worlds, a concept known as the “Internet of Things,” or IoT. As its name suggests, the internet of things will connect all kinds of things, bringing us a wealth of data about, well, everything that we can use to improve our lives.

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Hack-to-Learn at the Library of Congress

When hosting workshops, such as Software Carpentry, or events, such as Collections As Data, our National Digital Initiatives team made a discovery—there is an appetite among librarians for hands-on computational experience. That’s why we created an inclusive hackathon, or a “hack-to-learn,” taking advantage of the skills librarians already have and pairing them with programmers to mine digital collections. Hack-to-Learn took place on May 16-17 in partnership with George Mason and George Washington University Libraries.

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The Data Briefing: the Promise – and Perils – of Artificial Emotional Intelligence

The first chatbot, ELIZA, was created back in 1964 to demonstrate that communication between humans and computers would be superficial. However, much to Dr. Weizenbaum’s (ELIZA’a creator) surprise, people easily formed friendly relationships with the computer program. People forming relationships with ELIZA was especially surprising considering just how simple the program was regarding generating conversational responses. ELIZA essentially parroted back what the users typed but, this was enough to convince people that the program seemed to care about the person.

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The Data Briefing: Design-Driven Enterprise Architecture Creating the New Federal Government Agency

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in on enterprise architecture (EA). My last in-depth work with EA was around 2011 when I was on detail to the Office of Personnel Management’s Open Government Team. The EA model I worked with was the top-down organizational design of information technology assets, data assets, and business processes. Many of you are probably familiar with this traditional EA model. Six years later, it is predicted that in 2018 that “half of enterprise architecture (EA) business architecture initiatives will focus on defining and enabling digital business platform strategies.

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The New FEC.gov

Last week, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) unveiled their new website at FEC.gov. This new site is the result of a years-long collaboration with GSA’s 18F and features completely revamped tools for exploring campaign finance data. It provides user-centered content for understanding the reporting and compliance requirements for people participating in federal elections, redesigned tools for exploring legal resources, and more. Why it matters On the agency’s “About the FEC” page, it says, “The FEC was created to promote confidence and participation in the democratic process.

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New Options Available to Visualize CDC Data

CDC’s surveillance systems track HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis, STDs, and TB. Getting this information to those who need it most in an accessible, usable, and meaningful format is a primary goal for CDC. The launch of Atlas in 2012 made this a reality with an online resource that gave users tools to create customized tables, maps, and other graphics with the most current CDC surveillance data. Now, we have launched CDC’s NCHHSTP AtlasPlus.

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The Data Briefing: How to Best Prepare Federal Government Datasets for Chatbots

Forbes magazine recently ran an article showcasing six handy mobile apps that were built using federal government open data. The apps range from the Alternative Fueling Station Locator to ZocDoc (a doctor locator). What I especially like about the Forbes article is that the author describes the federal government data sets behind each app. There are many more mobile apps built by federal government agencies or using federal government data sources.

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GetMyFuture.org: Essential Youth Resources, Now

This post was originally published on the U.S. Department of Labor Blog. They say that life can be summed up as the process of a series of doors closing. By that, they mean that opportunities for taking different paths start to disappear as you move through life. It’s a logical sentiment, but there’s an obverse to it. When you’re young, all those doors are open. Doors as far as you can see.

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The Data Briefing: The Department of Education Needs Your Help with their First Developers’ Site

The Department of Education (ED) launched its first developer site. The developer site is built on GitHub which will make it easier for ED to centralize their code and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Currently, ten APIs are on the developer site: The Civil Right Data Collection (CRDC) APIs: These three APIs give information on public school enrollment in 2013–14, chronic absenteeism in 2013–14, and out-of-school suspension in 2013–14. The College Scorecard API: This is data from the College Scorecard project which allows student and families to “compare college costs and outcomes as they weigh the tradeoffs of different colleges, accounting for their own needs and educational goals.

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Inspiring Data Forum at the Canadian Space Agency

Last [month], NASA Open Innovation Program Manager Dr. Beth Beck and her team traveled to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) near Montreal, Canada to attend the Inspiring Data Forum graciously hosted by our Open Data neighbors to the North. The goal of this gathering was to bolster the working relationship between the two Space Agency’s Open Data efforts and to present techniques NASA is doing in Open Innovation. The event was heavily attended by CSA employees and also had participants from National Research Council of Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat, Natural Resources Canada, Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada, MaxQ and Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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New ITIF Report Inspires a Closer Look at Website Performance and Security—Here Is Where to Begin

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) recently published a report, Benchmarking U.S. Government Websites, that looks at the performance, security, and accessibility of the top 297 government websites. ITIF is a think tank in Washington, D.C. whose mission is to formulate, evaluate, and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation in technology and public policy. Over the past 90 days, government websites were visited over 2.55 billion times. According to the Analytics Dashboard, 43.

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Presenting Online Data to Wide-Ranging User Communities

Presenting data online that will serve a wide range of users can be challenging. It requires an understanding of the target users’ needs, interests, and familiarity with the use of data handling tools. This challenge can be especially daunting for government websites that present data for use by the general public. The audience for such data can range in extremes—from scientists to school children. Clearly, a single data tool would not adequately meet the needs of such a wide range of users.

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Buzzwords for 2017

Along with the New Year comes new buzzwords. Here are some that you are certain to hear about and see this year. Chatbot Short for ”chat robot,” a chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation, or chat, through artificial intelligence. They are commonly found on web sites and used to communicate with a person—you might have seen them on shopping sites as a customer service assistant. One well known example of a chatbot is ALICE (short for Artificial Linguistic Computer Entity), an open source, natural language chatbot that relies on artificial intelligence for human interaction.

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The Data Briefing: Understand Serverless Architecture in Three Minutes

You may have heard of “serverless architecture” or Amazon Web Services (AWS) Lambda product and wondered what is unique about this new buzzword. As with many new digital cloud technologies, serverless architecture could mean two things. It may be applications that are built using third-party cloud applications. Or serverless architectures could be pieces of code that live in the cloud and only run when called on by a user: event-driven functions.

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DigitalGov University in Review: 2016 Training Trends

DigitalGov University (DGU), the events platform for DigitalGov, provides programming to build and accelerate digital capacity by providing webinars and in-person events highlighting innovations, case studies, tools, and resources. Thanks to your participation, DGU hosted over 90 events with 6,648 attendees from over 100 agencies across federal, tribal, state, and local governments. DGU strives to provide training throughout the year that is useful and relevant to you. One of the most resounding comments from digital managers last year was people wanted to be able to attend all of our classes virtually.

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The Data Briefing: Why and How to Attend Your First Hackathon

December 9, 2016, will be the 110th anniversary of Admiral Grace Hopper’s birthday. Admiral Hopper was a pioneer in computer programming who created the first compiler and whose ideas lead to the creation of COBOL. An apocryphal legend also credits Admiral Hopper with coining the terms “bug” and “debugging.” The GSA’s IT Digital Service Team will celebrate Admiral Hopper’s birthday with a beginner-friendly hackathon. The Grace Hopper Day Hackathon is the perfect hackathon for beginners.

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GSA Presents: Grace Hopper Day Hackathon!

When: Friday, December 9th, 2016 Where: NARA Innovation Hub, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Register: On Eventbrite The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Digital Service team is excited to be hosting our next agency hackathon on December 9, 2016. Join coders from across the region as we come together in celebration of Grace Hopper’s birthday. Admiral “Amazing Grace” Hopper was one of the first programmers in the history of computers. As the creator of the first compiler for a programming language, it is largely due to her that programmers use “if/thens” instead of 1s and 0s today.

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White House Electric Vehicle Datathon: Unlocking New Opportunities through Data

Summary: The White House is hosting its first-ever Electric Vehicle Datathon, and nominations for participation are now open. Don’t miss your chance to join the discussion! The White House Domestic Policy Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy will convene its first-ever Electric Vehicle (EV) Datathon on November 29. This event, held in partnership with the Department of Energy and four of its National Laboratories will bring together EV experts, charging-station providers, cities and states, automakers, and the software-development and data-analysis communities.

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New Trademark App Open Source Code on GitHub

Improving the way the government delivers information technology (IT) solutions to its customers isn’t just a goal, it’s our mission. We at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office know that by publishing our open source code, the public can help us come up with new and better IT solutions. In advance of the new Federal Source Code Policy and in support of the Administration’s Open Government Initiative, we have been publishing content on GitHub for over a year, and it now includes source code for a mobile application for trademarks.

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Meeting Patients Where They Are: Liberating Clinical Trials Data Under the Cancer Moonshot

Cancer clinical trials are a critically important step on the pathway for new or improved treatments to make their way to patients in clinics and hospitals in towns and cities across the country. Patients and their loved ones are relying on these rigorous studies to determine whether promising new therapies and approaches might extend how long they live or improve their quality of life. For many years, a steady number of patients with cancer, approximately 5%, have participated in cancer clinical trials.

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Hualapai Public Safety Meet Old and New Challenges Through Technology

6,000 feet deep, 18 miles wide, 5,000 people per day: The Reality of the Tribal Beat How can a place be remote and virtually unpopulated, yet constantly full of thousands of people and teeming with activity? It certainly seems impossible, but that is exactly the situation at Grand Canyon West (GCW), home of the Hualapai indigenous Indian Tribe and the famous Skywalk. Although well over an hour from the closest town, more than one million people visit each year — arriving mostly by helicopter and tour bus.

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The Data Briefing: Four Steps to Becoming a Data-Driven Organization

As the Federal government agencies begin the digital transformation journey, becoming a data-driven organization is even more vital. What does it mean to become a data-driven organization? According to one definition, “[a] data-driven company is an organization where every person who can use data to make better decisions, has access to the data they need when they need it.” There are many theories are on how to create a data-driven organization, but few case studies that demonstrate the actual process.

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Challenge.gov Launches One-Click Reporting for Annual Prizes Data Call

****This year, the deadline for agencies to submit their reporting of incentive prize competitions and challenges for FY16 comes earlier than most. Roughly two weeks from today, by Nov. 18, federal agencies are required to submit their accounts of every prize, competition, or challenge that launched, ran or completed in FY16 via email. Challenge.gov launched a new feature this week to support agencies in their efforts. The Annual Prize Reporting tool equips agency challenge managers with a one-click tool for downloading key data on their challenges.

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New API Brings EPIC Earth Imagery to Developers

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.

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Applying Customer Service Metrics to Improve Customer Experience (CX)

Lately, I’ve looked at how a government agency measures a customer’s experience. It’s such a complex topic that I would need more than one blog to discuss the nuances behind it. In my last blog, I examined and brokedown three types of customer service metrics: customer satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Effort Score (CES). This one is about identifying how easy it is to work with your organization and discover ways to improve service delivery.

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The Digital Transition: How the Presidential Transition Works in the Social Media Age

Summary: Take a look at how we plan to preserve and pass on the digital history of the Obama administration. President Obama is the first “social media president”: the first to have @POTUS on Twitter, the first to go live on Facebook from the Oval Office, the first to answer questions from citizens on YouTube, the first to use a filter on Snapchat. Over the past eight years, the President, Vice President, First Lady, and the White House have used social media and technology to engage with people around the country and the world on the most important issues of our time (while having some fun along the way).

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The Data Briefing: Learning from the U.S. Cities on How to Implement Big Data Initiatives

A recent study of big data initiatives in 65 cities has interesting guidance for Federal big data initiatives. The researchers studied how data is collected and then used for decision making in what they called “the framework for Big Data initiatives.” There are two major cycles in the framework: “The data cycle governs the tools and processes used to collect, verify, and integrate data from multiple sources. Because of the variety of data sources involved, data teams in this cycle are [sic] often composed of representatives from multiple departments to leverage their field expertise and insider understanding of the data.

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Laying the Foundation for a More Secure, Modern Government

Summary: Building on efforts to boost Federal cybersecurity & as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, today we’re releasing a proposed guidance to modernize Federal IT. America’s spirit of ingenuity and entrepreneurship created the world’s most innovative economy and keeps us dominant in today’s digital age. Indeed, in 1985 about 2,000 people used the Internet; today, 3.2 billion people do. What started out as a useful tool for a few is now a necessity for all of us—as essential for connecting people, goods, and services as the airplane or automobile.

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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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The Data Briefing: Help Predict the Future of Federal Government Data

In December, I plan to write two postings detailing a scenario analysis for the next ten years of the Federal government’s data technologies. Governments are on the cusp of amazing technological advances propelled by artificial intelligence, blockchain technologies, and the Internet of Things. Also, governments will face new challenges such as the recent global cyber attack that took down Twitter and Netflix. I want to invite you, the reader, to also send in your predictions for the future of Federal government data.

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The Data Briefing: Twenty Years of USAJOBS

I recently sat down with Michelle Earley, Program Manager, to discuss the new changes for the 20th anniversary of USAJOBS. 1) What are the three big lessons learned from 20 years of building and managing USAJOBS? I think one of the greatest benefits of being an Agile program is that we are constantly learning. In 2013, our team implemented the first phase of the data warehouse which provided agencies with data that could be leveraged to improve recruiting efforts.

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Crowdsourcing at the Law Library of Congress

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.

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The Data Briefing: The Federal Data Cabinet—Promoting Data Literacy, Cultural Change, and the Federal Data Applications Ecosystem

Last Wednesday, the White House held the first Open Data Summit to showcase the open data accomplishments of the Obama Administration. One of the highlights was the formation of a government-wide “data cabinet.” Announced by Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil, the data cabinet is essentially a community of practice comprising the Federal agency’s data professionals. As Dr. Patil explains, the real issues concerning technical projects revolve around cultural issues. I couldn’t agree more.

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Exploring Data Portability

Summary: We’d like to hear from you on whether and how to increase your ability to get and use your data. Many of us store our email and photos with cloud services companies or track our finances on bank websites instead of in a checkbook register. Our medical records are stored electronically at hospitals and doctors’ offices. Permitting service providers to store and manage personal data has proven popular because it is enormously convenient and enables companies to make many services better.

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Vendors and Government Strengthen Partnership at Technology Industry Day

On September 8th, the General Services Administration (GSA) held a Technology Industry Day to talk to industry leaders about the products and solutions developed by our agency and to hear feedback on how we can better engage industry. We’re thrilled that more than 300 members of the technology industry in person and via the live stream were able to join us for this first step towards a closer partnership and more open lines of communication about how we can work together to transform federal technology.

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NASA: Open Gov Plan 2016 Outline

Here is the outline for our 2016 Open Government Plan. Let us know what you think. We’ve also posted this on GitHub/NASA for your comments: https://github.com/nasa/Open-Gov-Plan-v4. NASA and Open Government NASA is an open government agency based on the founding legislation in the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, which calls for participation and sharing in the conduct of how we go about the business of expanding the frontiers of knowledge, advancing understanding of the universe, and serving the American public.

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The Data Briefing: A New Perspective on the Digital Transformation of Government

One day, at an unnamed agency, the Outlook server crashed. The server stayed down for the rest of the afternoon. Deprived of email and meeting calendars, employees wandered around trying to remember what meetings they had to attend. Other employees went searching for people who they ordinarily would email. There was confusion that made people realize just how dependent they were on a single software program. As the Federal government moves toward digital transformation, I have been thinking about how agencies can best weather the transition from legacy systems to cloud-based, agile applications.

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GSA Hosts First-Ever Technology Industry Day in Washington, D.C.

Private industry and government came together to find best ways to deliver 21st century technology to federal agencies. On September 8, 2016 Administrator Denise Turner Roth of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) hosted the first-ever Technology Industry Day to provide a better understanding of GSA’s path to improve the government’s outdated technology systems. The event featured how GSA buys, builds and shares technology for the federal government. “The General Services Administration has a long history of being a strong leader in adopting technology in government,” said Administrator Roth when giving her opening remarks at GSA’s Technology Industry Day.

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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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The Data Briefing: Should U.S. Federal Employees Become Data Science Literate?

The United Kingdom’s (UK) Digital Service has researched ways to increase data science literacy among the UK public service. Data science literacy goes further than data literacy, in that civil servants will know how to apply data science concepts and methods in their everyday work. I thought it would be useful to share the UK Digital Service’s findings to help federal government employees develop their data science literacy. Before discussing how to increase the data science skills of federal employees, let’s discuss why.

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Analytics Success Series: Health Resources & Services Administration

Health Resources and Services Administration’s Analytics Success: Using Analytics to Reduce Content and Improve User Experience Unlike out-of-town guests, you want your web visitors to stick around. So, if your site continues to see a bounce rate that stubbornly refuses to drop—it’s time to make some changes. That’s exactly what happened to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s (MCHB) website. Last year, in 2015, the site’s average bounce rate was 63% — and more than 70% for some key landing pages.

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How Do You Redesign a ‘Dinosaur’? Redesigning an Intranet Site: the Beginning Stages

Many content managers in the digital world understand the irrepressible desire to improve, fix, edit, add, and move things around. Indeed, it’s our job to nurture this ongoing process to create, update, test, update again. And, repeat! But, what about those sites or pages that seem to never crawl up to the ‘high-priority’ list and have been perhaps a little, ehh… neglected. For our Web team, this was our Center’s staff Intranet site.

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How Much Does It Cost to Go Through FedRAMP?

One of the questions we get asked the most at FedRAMP from our vendors is: “How much will it cost me to get through FedRAMP?” One of the reasons this is a hard question to answer is that comparing cloud providers to each other isn’t even like trying to compare apples to oranges – those are both at least fruit. Comparing a global content distribution network to a government only ticketing and CRM solution and then comparing to a web-based agile project management tool is like comparing an apple to a bike to a television.

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Analytics Success Series: USAJOBS

USAJOBS’ Analytics Success: using analytics to create accurate testing strategies. Accurate testing strategies are crucial to ensure quality products. Hi-fidelity approaches ensure QA efforts are testing in a true-to-life manner, similar to real-world users. Inaccurate, lo-fidelity testing can miss situational bugs that become showstoppers in production. USAJOBS is leveraging the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) to form high-fidelity, accurate testing strategies that mimic production site-usage in the most accurate way possible.

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No Longer an Idea of the Future, Artificial Intelligence Is Here and You Are Probably Already Using It

It might surprise some of you to know that artificial intelligence (AI) is already in use and a routine part of our daily lives, but we leverage this technology when we use our smartphones or other devices to ask Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Now, or Amazon’s Alexa a question to get the facts or data we are looking for. Using your voice, you can say, “Where’s the nearest gas station?

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Analytics Success Series: Federal Trade Commission

FTC’s Analytics Success: Making mission-related tasks easier for the user to find In the summer of 2015, members of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) Web team worked with their FTC colleagues to analyze Digital Analytics Program (DAP) Google Analytics data (onsite search queries, landing pages, pageviews, etc.) for FTC.gov. We found that many visitors were coming to the site to perform mission-related tasks, such as filing a complaint or reporting identity theft.

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The Data Briefing: Harnessing the Internet of Things and Synthetic Data to Provide Better Flood Warnings and Prevent Veterans Suicides

Two significant items in federal government data in the last few weeks: The Department of Commerce releases the National Water Model. The National Water Model provides a comprehensive model of river flows so local communities can better prepare for possible flooding events. What is especially amazing about the National Water Model is that it pulls data from over 8,000 stream gauges. Stream gauges are automated measuring stations that measure water flow, height, surface runoff, and other hydrological data.

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DATA Act Prototype: Simplicity Is Key

Last week we wrote about how we diffuse knowledge through shared interests and sharing best practices on the Micro-purchase Platform. This week, we’ll focus on some of the lessons learned during the (completed) DATA Act prototype. Importantly, though that project has finished, this post is not meant to be a full retrospective or post-mortem; we’ll be focusing on technical decisions. We should also delineate this from the more long term DATA Act broker, which is under active development.

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Looking Back and Looking Forward: the Future of Public Safety Communications in the Post 9/11 Era—a Video Series

The week before Patriot Day, our nation’s annual remembrance of the 9/11 attacks, first responders share their remembrances and vision for the future of public safety communications in this video series. This week, we’ll hear from: Mike Worrell, Senior Fire Advisor, FirstNet Chad Weber, Public Information Officer, Florida Wildlife Conservation, Northeast Region Mike Duyck, Fire Chief, Tualatin Valley (Oregon) Fire and Rescue Rick Bartee, Fire Chief, Roseville (California) Fire Department “When I was deployed to the Trade Center on 9/11, my first 12 hours were spent trying to get communications established.

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Quality, Speed, and Lower Costs: Yes, You Can Have It All

This is post 2 in the 5-part series The Right Tools for the Job: Re-Hosting DigitalGov Search to a Dynamic Infrastructure Environment. The last major infrastructure upgrade that DigitalGov Search had was in 2010. Not only has technology evolved significantly since then, but so have business models for right-sizing costs. Moving to Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure allowed us to improve reliability by creating self-healing servers and distributing the service across four physically isolated datacenters, and reduce datacenter costs by 40% per month — no longer do we have to pay for peak throughput capacity overnight, on weekends, or during other predictably low-traffic periods.

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How We’re Using Data to Help Us Make Better Decisions

This week marks a special anniversary for GSA as we celebrate our Data-to-Decision (D2D) platform since its launch in the fall of 2015. D2D is GSA’s data management platform that collects, manages, and analyzes complex data to enable data-driven decision-making. Over the past year, GSA has made major strides forward in understanding how accurate and insightful data can help us be a more data-driven organization. I am proud to say that D2D now has more than 1,000 users and over 100 published dashboards across GSA!

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Sign up for the Technology Industry Day

The General Services Administration (GSA) is known for managing federal real estate and leveraging the government’s buying power to get the best deal for taxpayers, but it also drives and leads technology and innovation within the federal government. The Technology Transformation Service (TTS) builds, buys and shares tech to help federal agencies achieve their mission. They create better services for citizens everyday. TTS works closely with the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) and the GSA CIO to be first movers in and apply agile technology in a meaningful way.

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NASA Pulls Together National Data to Sleuth Out Air Traffic Improvement Mysteries

For the first time ever, air traffic researchers can view and analyze archived flight data collected and merged from all air traffic facilities across the U.S., with fast update rates ranging from one second to 12 seconds for every flight’s position. Previously, researchers only had access to national flight data that was similar to internet flight tracking, with one-minute flight updates and no information about flights on the ground at airports.

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The Data Briefing: Microservices and Serverless Apps — A New Direction for Federal Government Mobile Apps?

Continuing from last week’s column on DevOps and containers, I will explain two other hot trends in IT — microservices and serverless apps. For those who want official federal government guidance, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a draft special publication on microservices, application containers, and system virtual machines (PDF, 660 kb, 12 pages, February 2016). I wrote about microservices and containers in February 2015 as two API* trends to watch.

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New FedRAMP Marketplace Dashboard

We’re incredibly excited to announce the launch of the new FedRAMP Marketplace dashboard! It’s loaded with all sorts of ways for you to see how everyone is participating with FedRAMP! When we launched the FedRAMP Marketplace about 3 years ago, our intent was to create a place for agencies and cloud service providers (CSPs) to connect. As FedRAMP has grown, so has our marketplace. It’s become a space where all of you interact – CSPs, agencies, and third party assessment organizations (3PAOs) – and in more than just a one way interaction.

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The Data Briefing: DevOps and Containers and Why They Are Important to Transforming Federal Government IT

You may have heard about “DevOps” in the news or when meeting with IT professionals. What exactly is DevOps and what, if any, connection does it have with agile? Also, what do “containers” have to do with all of this? In this week’s column, I will introduce DevOps and a related technology: containers. Some DevOps practitioners will argue with my interpretations, and I invite these practitioners to explain their perspectives in the comments.

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The Data Briefing: FINDing Great Global Development Data Visualizations Courtesy of the State Department

Federal agencies have been releasing some fascinating data visualization tools in the last year. Recently, the State Department unveiled the Beta version of FIND or the “F Interagency Network Databank.” From the description in the FAQ: “The F Interagency Network Databank (FIND) is an online tool that enables users to explore and analyze national level data, and then share what they discover. FIND was designed around the needs of U.

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The People’s Code

Summary: Today, we’re releasing the Federal Source Code policy to support improved access to custom software code developed by or for the Federal Government. “If we can reconceive of our government so that the interactions and the interplay between private sector, nonprofits, and government are opened up, and we use technology, data, social media in order to join forces around problems, then there’s no problem that we face in this country that is not soluble.

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Modernizing the FCC’s Geospatial Maps

Maps and geospatial analysis have become increasingly important as they allow the FCC to display information to the public in an interactive visual format. The FCC’s maps have become useful tools for conveying data in conjunction with Commission reports and public notices. The FCC’s maps site serves as a centralized hub for data visualizations and is one of the most highly trafficked parts of the Commission’s website. Since the launch of the original FCC maps site, a total of 53 maps have been published – including 15 this year – on topics ranging from nationwide LTE coverage to fixed broadband deployment data.

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The Data Briefing: The Census Business Builder—Mashing Up Census Data to Help Build Businesses

The Census Bureau conducts more surveys than just the Constitutionally-mandated Decennial Census. There is also the American Community Survey, the Economic Census, the County Business Patterns series, statistics on Nonemployer businesses, and the Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons. On their own, each survey is full of useful information for researchers, local and state governments, and entrepreneurs. However, how valuable would the data be if it were mixed and displayed geographically?

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The FirstNet Network: Smart Response for Smart Cities

“Smart City” is an emerging term to describe how a community – large or small – uses connected technology and/or other data sets to influence and improve the delivery of services to the private and public sectors. By integrating data and connectivity into their daily operations, communities can automate many functions to create efficiencies and maximize their resources. These were just some of the many concepts discussed last week at the Smart Cities Innovation Summit in Austin, Texas, which brought together leaders from over 200 cities and towns to share information about how to best leverage state-of-the-art data solutions for the benefit of their communities.

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The Data Briefing: “PreparedGo” – The Federal Emergency Management Agency Mobile App

While you are outside hunting Pokemon or helping your children hunt Pokemon, consider adding another mobile app to your smartphone or tablet. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mobile app alerts you about severe weather and other natural disasters. The app is also a great information resource on surviving disasters and connects you to FEMA for immediate assistance. A feature you won’t find in many other apps is the ability for users to crowdsource photos of disaster areas to help first responders.

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The Data Briefing: Mobile Apps, Responsive Web Sites, and the “Mobile Moment”

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.

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The Data Briefing: I, For One, Welcome Our New Chatbot Blockchain Digital Autonomous Organizations

It is at the intersections of fields where you find the most fascinating and innovative concepts. Recently, a conference on “Open Human Resources and the Cognitive Era” explored the use of chatbots and blockchain technologies in human resources. Human Resources (HR) is quietly undergoing a revolution as many HR practitioners are transforming HR by using open source concepts. It is fascinating to see how cognitive technologies and cloud technologies are changing HR from a transactional and compliance function to an essential strategic organizational asset.

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Census Bureau Releases Key Statistics in Honor of Independence Day

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. This most American of holidays [is] marked with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues across the country. In honor of our nation’s birthday, the U.S. Census Bureau compiled the following statistics: 2.5 Million In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation.

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The Data Briefing: Innovating Processes the Lean and Agile Way

Business processes have fascinated me since I took an undergraduate philosophy course in modern business management. A part-time professor who was a management consultant by day taught this unusual class. Perhaps business management thinking was first experimenting with ideas that would later lead to the agile and lean movement today. From this class I learned that nearly all organizational issues could be traced back to bad processes rather than poor workers.

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The Data Briefing: NASA’s New Big Data Strategy

Few other federal agencies deal with as much data as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Big science creates big data, and NASA manages many of the biggest science projects in world history. Even in the early days of NASA’s history, NASA pioneered new ways to create and store data. So, in the world of the cloud, Internet of Things, and intelligent agents, how does NASA deal with its big data needs?

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Exciting Additions to Analytics.usa.gov

We’ve expanded analytics.usa.gov to include 15(!) more agency-specific dashboard pages. We now offer agency-specific analytics data pages for a total of 25 major federal agencies, and each one is accessible from the dropdown menu at the top of the site. Additionally, we’ve moved the downloadable datasets to their own pages, rather than be located on the dashboard pages themselves. The page to download aggregated data for all participating sites is now analytics.

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Data: the Key to a More Transparent, Open Government

The work of the federal government is incredibly diverse, and affects almost every aspect of American life, whether it is keeping planes in the air or ensuring that our food is safe. Every public service the government provides requires many different skill sets, but the one thing that unites them all is a consistent requirement for transparency. Transparency enables the federal government to demonstrate to the American people how their tax dollars are being used.

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Open Data Democratizes Innovation

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.

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7 Years of Open Data

In its seventh year as home to the U.S. Government’s open data, Data.gov continues to serve millions of people worldwide, from researchers and civic hackers, to businesses and citizens. These users have created apps, launched new products and services, and have improved transparency and openness, making the U.S. Government more accountable and responsive to the American people. Data USA, an online application developed by a team of data scientists at MIT Media Lab and Datawheel, backed by Deloitte is helping Americans visualize demographic and economic data using an open source platform.

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The Data Briefing: Better Crowdsourced Federal Government Projects Through Cognitive Computing

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.

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Giving Consumers Greater Access to FCC Complaint Data

Greater transparency is one of the goals of our Consumer Help Center, which for over a year now has been the FCC’s primary online destination for learning about consumer telecommunications issues, filing informal consumer complaints and finding out what other consumers are concerned about. In keeping with that commitment, we have made more and more consumer-complaint data publicly available through the Consumer Help Center – publishing weekly updates to a variety of charts, maps and spreadsheets.

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The Data Briefing: Introducing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s New Open Data Portal

My first column when I came back from last year’s summer sabbatical was on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) PatentsView project. PatentsView became one of the Department of Commerce’s most viewed apps in 2015. Building on this success, USPTO released a beta version of its open data portal. The USPTO open data portal is divided into four different sections. The first section leads to patent and trademark datasets.

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Open Police Data Re-identification Risks

Last week I spoke at a White House event, “Opportunities & Challenges: Open Police Data and Ensuring the Safety and Security of Victims of Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault.” This event brought together representatives from government agencies, police departments, and advocacy groups to discuss the potential safety and privacy impact of open police data initiatives. The White House launched the Police Data Initiative last year, encouraging police departments to make data sets available to the public in electronic formats that can be downloaded, searched, and analyzed.

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The Data Briefing: What Makes a Great Federal Government App?

USAGov recently released a list of six great federal government mobile apps. There were many apps released by the federal government over the last 5-6 years on a wide range of topics and services. Many are well-designed and useful to the American public. So, what are the outstanding federal government apps for 2016? The Department of State’s Smart Traveler. First launched in 2011, this mobile app helps international travelers find U.

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An Introduction to Open Data and APIs

The federal workplace is abuzz these days with talk about open data and how agencies can leverage that data through APIs. According to the federal Open Data Policy, data should be managed as an information asset, and making it discoverable and usable (in other words, open). Open data “not only strengthens our democracy and promotes efficiency and effectiveness in government, but also has the potential to create economic opportunity and improve citizens’ quality of life.

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The Data Briefing: Tales from the Dark Side of Data

There are many scary tales in the world of knowledge management and data management. Tales of missing data that was lost through the administrative cracks, such as the story of the missing Apollo 11 moonwalk tapes that most likely were erased by accident. Or the 36-year search for the original Wright Brothers’ patent, which was happily re-discovered this month. As more data is being created at ever-increasing speed and complexity, there will be more missing data horror stories.

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The Data Briefing: Chatbots and the Rise of Conversational Commerce and Citizen Experience

Ten months ago, I wrote about the rise of the post-app world in which mobile personal assistants would do the work of five to 10 apps combined. These mobile personal assistants, now known as chatbots, would work through conversational interfaces (voice and instant messaging, for example). The idea is to build more natural interfaces for people to access information services and perform complicated online tasks. Facebook has now joined in the new conversational commerce marketspace along with Google and Apple.

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Worth a Thousand Words? Announcing Ready-to-Go Interactive Graphics with BLS News Releases

Last spring I wrote about how we’ve been using more and better charts and maps to help you understand our statistics. Today I’m excited to tell you about a new set of graphical tools to make our news releases more illuminating at the moment of their posting. We want everyone to be able to “see” quickly what’s in the hundreds of news releases we publish every year—on price trends, pay and benefits, productivity, employment and unemployment, job openings and labor turnover, and other topics.

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The Data Briefing: Building an Open Government Data Ecosystem in the Federal Government

It has been over seven years since President Obama signed the executive order that launched the federal open data movement. Much progress has been made, and there is still more to do. Along with the United States, over 100 nations have started programs to provide open access to government data. From large metropolitan governments to small cities, governments are opening up their data to provide better transparency and better delivery of government services.

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Remixing Content: Shining Sunlight on the SunShot Initiative’s Solar Energy R&D Project Map

With more than 400 projects in their portfolio, it can be difficult for the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to adequately convey the scope of the office’s work. The team can list their projects, organize them by program area, and write blog posts about them, but none of that has the same impact as seeing all of the projects displayed on an interactive map. Audiences are now able to click on a map, zoom to different sections and click onto icons to explore the diverse and wonderful world of the SunShot solar energy research and development portfolio.

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Additional Data Options With DAP

Agencies can participate in the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) by implementing the DAP script block. It’s a simple line of of code that enables you to take advantage DAP: (Example) You can use this line to enhance the Web analytics solution with additional query string parameters. The query string parameters pass data that enable features within the code. They can also help configure settings in the code. It allows you to leverage more features in DAP or extract more data out of DAP.

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Your Trek to Vesta & Mars Starts Now

The NASA Open Innovation team is pleased to announce the availability of the APIs that power Mars Trek and Vesta Trek on api.nasa.gov. The APIs for Mars provide data from the Mars Express, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter missions with 21 different data products such as MOLA Altimetery Hillshade, Viking and THEMIS. There are also 6 data products from the Dawn mission to Vesta providing various views in True Color, Colorized and Color Hillshade to name a few.

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Tag Management: A Digital Analyst’s Best Friend

Tag managers can assist in collecting valuable data about visits to your website. Here at CFPB, we use Google Tag Manager (GTM), which is a free tool that works in tandem with Google Analytics to record and send data on how users interact with your website on an aggregate level, including which pages they view, where they click and what they download. It requires one line of code to be added to your site.

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The Data Briefing: An Interview with USAJOBS on New Changes to Their Data Services

The Office of Personnel Management released a new look and functionality to USAJOBS in February. I recently contacted Michelle Earley, the USAJOBS Program Manager, to ask about the changes to USAJOBS and the data it provides. 1. What are the priorities this year for the USAJOBS team and the site? “The priorities for this year include: Unifying the experience Incorporating a comprehensive content strategy to transform the readability of the website Improving the Job Opportunity Announcement (Represents the agency) Improving the User Profile (Represents the job seeker/applicant) Improving Search, which is the mechanism that brings together the job seekers and agencies USAJOBS hopes to continue to act as a trusted public service career platform that creates a responsive and transparent experience for its users.

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MCC Builds on Lessons Learned in Launch of Second Open Data Challenge

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)’s first open data challenge taught MCC some very valuable lessons in making its public data truly usable by the public. The challenges ask masters and PhD students to find creative ways to use MCC’s publicly-available evaluation data and provide new insights into its evaluation results. As the second challenge launches, MCC is building on these lessons learned from the first challenge: Students are a prime audience for an open data challenge.

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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: Three Significant Events in Federal Open Data This Past Week

Three recent stories demonstrate how opening up federal government data and using agile methods to create federal government software can spur innovation while saving tax money and helping the American public. In its Second Open Government National Action Plan (PDF, 639 KB, 5 pages, September 2014), the White House called for a government-wide policy on open source software. Recently, the Office of Management and Budget released a draft policy “to improve the way custom-developed government code is acquired and distributed moving forward.

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The Postal Service Just Broke Analytics.usa.gov

Ok, so it didn’t *really* break it. But you might notice that the amount of “people on government websites now” on analytics.usa.gov is a lot higher than it used to be. The Digital Analytics Program (DAP) team has been working with a team from the U.S. Postal Service over the past few months to implement DAP on usps.com and all usps.com subdomains. Last week, DAP was activated on the pages, and we nearly passed out when we saw the first data coming in.

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My Data: Empowering All Americans with Personal Data Access

Summary: Consumers empowered with their own data are in the driver’s seat to make informed choices. In the 21st century economy, Americans rely on online services to access personal bank accounts, pay bills, and shop online, so why don’t we have similar interactions with Federal government through easy-to-use, online tools? The answer is we can—and increasingly we are—as we continue to build a 21st century government. Since first taking office, President Obama has been committed to building a more open and transparent government while, at the same time, protecting consumers and empowering them to make informed choices for themselves and their families.

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The Data Briefing: New Opportunities for American Cities and Communities Thanks to Open Data

Open data and APIs* have not only transformed the federal government; open data and APIs are also transforming tribal, state and local governments. Like federal agencies, some tribal, state and local governments are ahead of other governments in open data innovations. This situation reminds me of my earlier work with the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in the General Services Administration. In 1998, I was a Presidential Management Fellow working on a project to catalog how state and local governments were using websites to deliver government information and services.

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Seeing States the Right Way: How to Weigh Data by Population

One large issue my team has run into when analyzing and reporting data across different states is knowing whether sessions within an area are higher due to more interest, or a larger population. Time after time, we see the states with the largest populations show up with the largest amount of traffic, like the graph below. However, creating a useful equation of users vs. population in a given area will likely give more insight into which states are most engaged, instead of which ones have the most people.

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The Data Briefing: Mobile Websites or Mobile Apps or Both?

The increasing sophistication of mobile devices has created many opportunities for developers. Thanks to APIs* and open data, developers can build thousands of mobile apps and mobile websites to meet users’ needs. This opportunity has created one of the most contentious debates in the mobile development community: mobile apps versus mobile websites? There is, yet, no solution to the debate. However, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both types of mobile solutions.

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The Data Briefing: Serving Citizen Developers Inside and Outside of the Federal Government

Citizen developers are people who do not work in information technology (IT) but have built IT applications. Back in the mid-80s, business people would smuggle in personal computers to run their spreadsheets and word processing applications (anyone remember VisiCalc and Bank Street Writer?) instead of having to rely on data processing departments. Today, citizen developers use no-code or low-code services such as IFTTT (If This Then That) or QuickBase to build their business apps.

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Touring Top Colleges with the Peace Corps

I wanted to share our first dabble with data storytelling, a visualization supporting the Peace Corps Top Colleges initiative led by our awesome press team. Our goal was to enhance and expand the experience of the Top Colleges campaign and use of the data beyond the usual suspects like infographics, and other assets to show the reach of colleges and universities. We also wanted to connect all the earned media it receives to an overarching Peace Corps goal that is measurable (in this case lead generation) on the back end.

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The Data Briefing: The Challenge of Opening up Federal Government Algorithms

Algorithms are becoming more important as the amount of data grows, and the complexity of government and business processes grows. Put simply, an algorithm is just a set of steps for solving a problem. If you shop online, use an online social network or a mobile app to plan your route, then you are using an algorithm: A sophisticated algorithm that uses large amounts of data to make hundreds (or thousands) of decisions in milliseconds.

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Analytics.usa.gov: Now with Agency-Specific Dashboards

We’ve added agency-specific dashboards to analytics.usa.gov! Starting today, you’ll see a dropdown from the main analytics.usa.gov page that allows you to view the same dashboard, but filtered for websites that are administered by one of 10 specific agencies: Department of Commerce Department of Education Department of Energy Department of the Interior Department of Justice Department of Veterans Affairs Environmental Protection Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration National Archives and Records Administration Small Business Administration What Do These Pages Show Me?

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The Data Briefing: Demand-Driven Open Data at Health and Human Services

For many agencies, what data to make open is left up to the agency’s judgment. This has worked well as agencies do a good job in understanding the public’s needs for specific datasets. Even so, as developers and citizens begin using the open datasets, there is increasing demand for specific agency datasets. The issue is how to best accommodate those requests given the constraints of agency budgets and open data support staff.

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The Data Briefing: Mapping the Big Data Ecosystem of U.S. Agriculture

The Congressional Research Service recently released a report (PDF, 688 kb, 17 pages, January 2016) describing the big data ecosystem for U.S. agriculture. The purpose of the report was to understand the federal government’s role in emerging big data sources and technologies involved in U.S. agriculture. As the report author, Megan Stubbs, points out, there is not even a standard definition of big data. “Big data may significantly affect many aspects of the agricultural industry although the full extent and nature of its eventual impacts remain uncertain.

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Moving from Open Data to Open Knowledge: Announcing the Commerce Data Usability Project

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.

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The Data Briefing: Design for Developer Experience (DX) and Data Prosumer Experience (DPX)

Recently, DigitalGov devoted an entire month to exploring how good user experience (UX) helps government design better digital products and services. UX is the art and science of understanding how people will use a website or mobile app to solve a problem or meet a need. UX is a combination of neuroscience, communication theory, information architecture, content strategy, graphic design, and responsive programming to build an experience that is inviting and beneficial to users.

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The Data Briefing: Does the Federal Government Have an Obligation to Educate Open Data Users?

Pop quiz on statistics and data science (answers at the end of the article): 1) I have some data on accidents at railroad crossings. One variable indicates the compass direction a railroad crossing faces (North, Northwest, Northeast, and so on). This variable is a/an: Ordinal Categorical Directional Interval 2) I have some ordinal data that I want to analyze for trends.

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The Data Briefing: Help #HackSuicide This Weekend

A month ago, I wrote about the White House’s call for data scientists and app developers to come together to help combat suicide. On December 12, 2015, there will be five hackathons around the U.S. to #HackSuicide. All the hackathons are free and open to the public. Even if you are not a data scientist, app developer or mental health expert, you may want to attend one of the events to learn how data can be used to solve a vital public health issue.

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The Data Briefing: The Open Government Data Revolution Is Just Getting Started

Some of you may remember when President Reagan opened America’s Global Positioning System (GPS) data. President Reagan gave all countries access to the GPS data in response to the Soviet Union shooting down Korean Airlines Flight 007 on September 1, 1983. I do not believe that the U.S. realized how much opening up GPS data would revolutionize the world economy, health services, travel and almost every other aspect of daily life.

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Analytics.usa.gov: New Features and More Data

As of writing this post, 25,225 of the 124,878 total visitors on federal government websites participating in the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) are NOT located in the United States. And as a result of a new location feature on the expanded analytics.usa.gov, you are free to check for yourself how many current users are from outside the country, anytime you’d like. Back in March of this year, DAP released analytics.

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The Data Briefing: Innovating Health Data at the HHS Idea Lab

By the time this is published, the United States, along with 160 other countries, will be celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 16th through November 22nd). November is also National Entrepreneurship Month with November 17th being National Entrepreneurs’ Day. As President Obama stated in his proclamation: “In keeping with our goal of fostering economic growth through private-sector collaboration, the federal government is accelerating the movement of new technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace, increasing access to research awards for small businesses, making more data open to the public [emphasis mine] and catalyzing new industry partnerships in critical fields such as advanced manufacturing and clean energy.

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The Data Briefing: Is That Drug Safe? – The FDA’s RR-Drug R/Shiny App

I (virtually) attended the Third Annual Safety Datapalooza last Thursday and was greatly impressed by the projects and initiatives for public safety. This was a great event, and I am glad that live streaming was provided for those who could not attend in person but have a great interest in using government data for disaster preparedness. If you have not already visited disasters.data.gov, please do. It is a great portal for data, apps, and tools for developers who want to help build vitally-needed public safety resources.

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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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Gov Analytics Breakdown #2: Mobile Is Bigger than Ever

A review of the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) data confirms what many are already saying: Content is being viewed on mobile devices more than ever before, and the percentage of sessions via mobile devices is growing. Three things are evident when looking at the breakdown of sessions on federal government websites across device types over the last three years: Percentage of tablet sessions stayed about the same (~7%) Share of sessions via desktop (includes laptop) dropped significantly (from 80% to 66%) Share of sessions via mobile devices (not including tablet) more than doubled (from 13% to 27%) Within the last year, we saw the combined mobile and tablet percentage exceed one-third of all sessions.

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Gov Analytics Breakdown #1 – Browsers: Chrome Takes the Cake

If you were visiting a federal government website two years ago, the best odds were that you’d have been using Internet Explorer as your Internet browser. But today, that’s no longer the case. Within just the last year, Chrome has taken over the top spot as the browser most used to view federal websites, according to data from the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), and it seems to show no signs of slowing.

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The Data Briefing: White House Asks Data Scientists and App Developers to Help Suicide Prevention Efforts

The White House issued a call on September 30, 2015, for data scientists and app developers to help with a vital public health issue: suicide prevention. From the official announcement: “If you are a data scientist, analyst, tech innovator, or entrepreneur interested in sharing ideas and resources for suicide prevention, we want to hear from you! Please send a brief note about your ideas and resources to mbasco[at]ostp.

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The Data Briefing: Surrounded by Fields of Federal Data—U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s PatentsView

Hello, everyone. My summer sabbatical was short but educational, and I am glad to be back in the federal government. I am also excited to again take up the weekly API article that is now expanded to include all things federal government data. Much has happened in the open data realm, and there is much to chronicle as government uses data in more innovative ways. On my sabbatical reading stack was “Code Halos: How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations are Changing the Rules of Business.

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Under the Hood: Building a New College Scorecard with Students

Summary: How the U.S. Digital Service worked with students, families, schools, developers and teams across the federal government to rebuild the new College Scorecard tool. My niece is a smart kid. I’m biased, but I swear she is. And just as I started working on the College Scorecard project as the U.S. Digital Service’s new Chief Digital Service Officer at the Department of Education, I got a call from her—she was trying to decide where to go to school.

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How the CIO Council Made Our Open Data Prioritization Tool Kit More Open

A few weeks ago the Council’s Innovation Committee released the Open Data Prioritization Toolkit. The response to the toolkit has been positive, but we also heard back from the community asking why the Open Data toolkit’s summary was locked up in a non-open format—PDF. The Council Operations Team noted the irony of publishing a guide to opening data in a non-open format made a decision to eat our own dogfood.

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A Six Month Update on How We’ve Been Using Data, and How it Benefits All Americans

Memorandum: A Six Month Update on How We’ve Been Using Data, and How it Benefits All Americans To: The American People From: Dr. DJ Patil, U.S. Chief Data Scientist Date: August 19, 2015 In my last memorandum, I discussed the opportunity to unleash the power of data to benefit all Americans. Now that it’s been six months, I wanted to provide an update on my team’s progress. As I’ve had a chance to explore the different areas we’re working on across the government, it’s clear that this is the most data-driven Administration we’ve ever had.

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Free the Data: FEMA’s New Data Visualization Tool

FEMA collects data from disasters. We look at various hazards over time, and a question we get a lot when we’re trying to talk about what can happen is what has happened previously? Providing data in its raw format and also building visualization tools allows people to look at their past history, look at what kind of hazards they are vulnerable to, and look at the frequency of disaster declarations and the impacts.

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Analytics Prove People Care About Space (and Pluto!)

Despite the fact that Pluto has been downgraded to a “dwarf planet”, the analytics of federal government websites prove there are still a lot of people who want to get an up-close look. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a project over nine years in the making, flew by Pluto this morning at approximately 7:49 a.m. The project should produce the highest quality photos of the former planet and its largest moon, Charon, that anyone on Earth has ever seen.

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Safety and Transparency Through Data

You have the right to a safe workplace—and so do the employees at your favorite café, the local hospital and the construction company renovating homes in your neighborhood. But how can you tell if the businesses you patronize are keeping their workers safe? That’s a question we can answer with data. The Data The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s online enforcement database includes details on the roughly 90,000 OSHA inspections conducted every year, and covers more than four decades.

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CitySDK: Helping Civic Hackers Deliver Local Solutions

Civic hackers are a special breed—their primary motivation is closely tied to the social issues closest to their hearts. Most attend hack-a-thons, engage in civic meetups, and show up at city hearings to champion their cause and push solutions at the societal, technology, and policy levels. On the technological front, creating civic city-based solutions has traditionally been unnecessarily difficult. Data issues range from the lack of open data access to the inconsistent interpretation of current data sets to the difficulty of using federal data, such as U.

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Visualizing BLS Data to Improve Understanding

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s the value of a striking, cool chart or map of some BLS data? At the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), we’re always thinking of better ways to help our users understand the information we produce. The global economy is complex, and the statistics to explain the economy can be complex too. Data visualizations are one tool we use to present our data more clearly.

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The National Day of Civic Hacking 2015: Harnessing the Power of the People

The National Day of Civic Hacking was born when some of the nation’s leaders in civic engagement decided to rally around a common goal on one weekend. -Nicholas Skytland, NASA The National Day of Civic Hacking is a national community engagement event that will take place on June 6, 2015, in cities all around America. The initiative is a united effort to bring together a diverse group of concerned citizens to improve communities and the government which represents them.

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The API Briefing: Top Five Findings for API Developers from Pew Research Center

The Pew Research Center just released a report on how Americans view open government data. The following findings were based on a November to December 2014 survey of 3,212 adults. Two-thirds of Americans use the Internet or an app to connect with the government. According to Pew, 37% use the Internet to connect with the federal government, 34% connect with their state government, and 32% connect with their local government.

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What Labor Department Data Do You Want?

Four years ago, we released our Labor Department-wide API—that is, an Application Programming Interface—with the hope that anyone who wants to build an app using our data could do so easily. At the time, we started off with three datasets. Today, we have around 200, including workplace injuries and illnesses, the unemployment rate, companies’ compliance with wage and hour laws, and many other important topics. We hope that the data we publish can help people who have jobs, are looking for jobs or are even retired from their jobs.

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The API Briefing: How Essential Is Government Data to the American Economy?

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.

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Gather Your Agency’s Public Data with Let Me Get That Data for You

In case you missed it, U.S. Open Data recently launched a tool called: Let Me Get That Data For You (LMGTDY). The name is a play on the very funny Let Me Google That For You website. How LMGTDFY works Let Me Get That Data For You searches any website for data in machine-readable formats and provides a list. Here is U.S. Open Data’s background reasoning for creating this tool:

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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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HTTP vs HTTPS: Is it Time For a Change?

Data. Security. Privacy. These are the cornerstones of many discussions concerning technology. The security of citizen information when interacting with the federal government will be increasingly important as we progress into the future. A few agencies have begun to use Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) in lieu of the standard HTTP. For these agencies, this transition to HTTPS is seen as a step in the right direction and is one way for the government to address the security of citizen information.

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Trends on Tuesday: Big Data Equals Big Challenges

According to an article from Readwrite, the amount of money going to big data projects is steadily increasing despite widespread failure to achieve many results. For big data-related projects in global organizations, a total of $31 billion was spent in 2013 and that amount is expected to top $114 billion by 2018. The recognition that big data is important is present, but the results from big data projects have not illustrated this to the full extent.

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Web Metadata Publishing Using XML

Metadata for website content is usually managed as part of the editorial process when documents are created and published with content management systems. There may be another source for this metadata, especially in regulatory agencies: internal databases that reference Web content in support of record keeping processes. These databases may contain public and non-public information that were never meant to be published for public consumption. “Metadata” is not typically how the content is described.

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Structured Content in Government: How HHS and NCI Are Getting Started

Metadata, tagging, content modeling … they’re not identical concepts, but they’re driven by the same basic principle: when you structure your digital information, it can be more easily searched, reused, connected, shared, and analyzed. If you’re new to structured content, where should you start? Ideally, your metadata strategy will be part of your overall content strategy. In practice, however, a lot depends on your agency’s culture, its technical resources, its existing practices, and the state of your content.

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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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Digital Analytics Program Among Finalists for Igniting Innovation Award

The federal government has IT challenges, and innovative federal projects are tackling those challenges head-on. As projects gain momentum, outside organizations have taken notice. Recently, Data.gov and DigitalGov’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP) were recognized by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC), among 30 other finalists for the Igniting Innovation Award. ACT-IAC’s 2015 Igniting Innovation Showcase and Awards recognized tools, solutions, services and programs developed by government and industry leaders.

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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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Trends: Big Data and Gov in 2015

As we move into 2015, the amount of data available in the digital ecosystem will increase very rapidly because of the Internet of Things (IoT), social media and wearable tech. In the future, the problem lies not only with data collection, but with what one does with the data. Big Data, one of the main and recurring buzzwords of the digital century, will remain important, but will force us to answer the question of what we will do with the data.

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Trend Watch 2015: What’s in the Forecast for Digital Government?

In January on DigitalGov, we’ll highlight pieces looking at trends we see coming in the digital government space in 2015 and beyond. We have lined up articles around: Customer Service Data 3D Printing at NIH and NASA Accessibility Mobile, and Training. Check back Monday, when we kick-off the month with 15 Government Customer Service Trends. And you can look at some of our most recent monthly theme articles in: crowdsourcing, user experience, and mobile.

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The API Briefing: Make 2015 the Year You Create an App

According to some experts, over 80% of Americans will make a least one New Year’s resolution. There are the usual “lose weight,” “quit smoking,” or “exercise more” resolutions. Another popular set of resolutions involves learning new skills. So, if you are looking for a way to improve yourself while helping others, think about making a resolution to learn how to build a mobile app that can be used in disaster relief.

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Who’s Using Your Agency’s Data?

For months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get leads for the OMB External Use Open Data Survey responses. I’ve attended Google Analytics seminars, asked for survey responses from some of our public facing sites, added a data request form to our /data page, and begged for leads from program owners. The result was very few leads and no indication of whether or not they were people who actually were looking for our data, used our data or just had a website resource access issue.

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Introducing “Get Your Open Data on Data.gov”

Data.gov is the central clearinghouse for open data from the United States federal government. It also provides access to many local government and non-federal open data resources. But how does this data get on to Data.gov? Data.gov does not host data directly, but rather aggregates metadata about open data resources in one centralized location. In addition to Data.gov’s recent webinars on how Data.gov harvests data, the Data.gov team has created a living resource to explain in further detail how data must be structured to connect to the Data.

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Data.gov’s Data Pipeline Explained

In case you missed it: the Data.gov team recently hosted DigitalGov University webinars designed to help agencies and open data advocates better understand how to get data on Data.gov and how to implement the Open Data Policy’s metadata schema updates. These webinars were designed assist government data publishers in making more data discoverable to the American people. You can watch these webinars and check out additional supplemental resources below.

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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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Pillbox Google Hangout for Developers

Tuesday, October 7 at 2pm ET, the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health will host a Google Hangout to talk about developing with the API, data, and open source code from Pillbox. I (Pillbox project manager), Mark Silverberg of Social Health Insights (builder of super cool health apps), and Maya Uppaluru of ONC (leads their Innovation Engagement program) will go under the hood of Pillbox.

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Open Government #WikiHack at the National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration and Wikimedia D.C., invite you to help us improve access to open government data on Wikipedia. We are excited to announce that we will be hosting the Open Government #WikiHack, a two-day hackathon at the National Archives Building in downtown D.C., over the weekend of September 27 and 28. Did you know that Wikipedia articles with NARA digital images saw over 1 billion page views in FY13 alone?

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Creating an Open FEC

Campaign finance information is not very approachable, even when made available as open data. The laws that regulate how money can be spent around elections are important to our democracy, but sometimes it’s difficult to understand how these laws apply. Between Senate, House, and Presidential campaigns, thousands of people run for office on a regular basis (every two years for the House of Representatives, every six years for the Senate, and every four years for the Presidency).

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Preserving Fish and Wildlife Service History through Open Data Initiative

In the summer of 1914, Frederick M. Dille, manager at Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, observed: “The general conditions of affairs at Niobrara are favorable and good. The animals are thriving, the feed has been abundant, the fence is in good shape and Mr. Schultz has handled everything very satisfactory. […] The pheasants have done well and proven a great attraction to the visitors. Mr. Schultz wanted to try his hand at hatching a few of the eggs this spring; they were hatched but none of the chicks survived.

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How to Find Your Open Data Hotshots

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?

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Delivering a Customer-Focused Government Through Smarter IT

As technology changes, government must change with it to address new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. This Administration has made important strides in modernizing government so that it serves its constituents more effectively and efficiently, but we know there is much more to do. Last year, a group of digital and technology experts from the private sector helped us fix HealthCare.gov—a turnaround that enabled millions of Americans to sign up for quality health insurance.

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Heat Mapping Case Study: Epa.gov Homepage

Most people relate the term “heat map” with something they see during the weather forecast on the nightly news, those colorful maps that vividly illustrate how hot it’s going to be during an impending heat wave. The word “heat map” may not usually however, conjure up images of a widely used Web usability tool; but for those who manage Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website, that is exactly what the phrase brings to mind.

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Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz, Oh What a Relief Social Media Is!

We often think of social media as a way to expand our audience, but some public health departments are using it as a new tool for tracking outbreaks of salmonella, e. coli, and other foodborne illnesses. It’s a familiar story: A nice meal out results in days of gastrointestinal discomfort when you realize only too late that the clams were a mistake. You may post to your facebook page and tag where you were, but chances are you never even send a to your local public health department.

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Open Data Takes Center Stage at User Conference

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.

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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.

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The API Briefing: APIs Come In Many (Data) Flavors

This week, we will look at three different APIs that demonstrate how agencies use different technologies to serve out data. Presenting data in various formats encourages developers to build on federal APIs. As past columns have shown, the innovative apps created with federal data are quickly growing. The latest API news this week is how quickly the Department of Labor (DOL) built a Software Developer Kit (SDK) for Apple’s new programming language.

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Big Data, Open Data & the Federal Agencies

Open data and big data—and the responsible management and protection of that data—are key components of the President’s agenda to drive innovation and economic growth. On Thursday, June 19, leaders from civil society, industry, academia, and 40 federal departments and agencies met at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy’s Massive Data Institute to discuss how federal agencies can continue to unlock government data to drive innovation and improve services. Drawing from the White House Working Group report, Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values, this event focused on opening and using government data, while appropriately protecting privacy and preventing the use of data to discriminate against vulnerable populations in our society.

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Agency Dataset Publication in Data.gov

Not sure how to get your datasets into Data.gov? We’ve put together an overview to show you how the process works. Agencies prepare their enterprise data inventories in data.json format and post them on their websites (agency.gov/data.json), pursuant to the Open Data Policy and following the guidance and using the tools available on Project Open Data. Data.gov also offers a tool called inventory.data.gov that can be used to assist agencies in creating their data inventories.

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The Golden Metric

Are you looking for the “golden metric” that is the best measure of your agency’s website performance and cross-comparable across .gov websites? If so, stop looking. The concept of the golden metric is a dangerous one because it oversimplifies performance analysis of your website and overlooks the truth hidden behind other, more relevant metrics. Don’t get me wrong—it is easy to fall for the concept of the golden metric.

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Attention Developers: More Economic Statistics Added to BEA’s API

Developers, do you want to bring more detailed economic data to your next app? The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) recently added several data sets to the application programming interface (API) we launched last year. The API now provides direct access to the gross domestic product (GDP) underlying detail tables. Those tables contain a wealth of statistics, including how much consumers spend on hundreds of items like furnishings, food and flowers and how much revenue the government takes in and spends.

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DigitalGov IRL: 6 Ways To Get It Right

This morning I was walking down 18th Street, crossing Pennsylvania Avenue by the World Bank when I heard what sounded like “a test from the Emergency Broadcast System.” I looked behind me and realized it was coming from my purse and that my phone was jiggling. I pulled out my phone to see that there was a flash flood warning. I looked up and saw dozens of people on the crowded sidewalks pulling out devices.

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Federal Agencies and the Opportunities and Challenges of Big Data

On June 19, the Obama Administration will continue the conversation on big data as we co-host our fourth big data conference, this time with the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Massive Data Institute. The conference, “Improving Government Performance in the Era of Big Data; Opportunities and Challenges for Federal Agencies,” will build on prior workshops at MIT, NYU, and Berkeley, and continue to engage both subject matter experts and the public in a national discussion about the future of data innovation and policy.

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Facebook Increases Public Service Verification to Improve Citizen Engagement

Facebook is now the first social media platform to start verifying all federal government pages with their signature blue checkmark using the Federal Social Media Registry API. The Federal Social Media Registry provides the singular source that allows social media platforms to quickly collect real government accounts—emphasizing the critical need to ensure the trust, quality and security of citizen engagement. When the public searches for the new Central Intelligence Agency Facebook account, many different accounts pop up—but only one of them is managed by the actual CIA.

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Unleashing Data Innovation for Action on Climate Change

Last June, President Obama launched a Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution, prepare communities for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address this global challenge. The plan recognizes that even as we act to curb the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, we must also prepare our citizens and communities for the climate impacts that are already underway across the country. One of the efforts described in that Climate Action Plan is the Climate Data Initiative, a broad effort to leverage the federal government’s extensive, freely-available climate-relevant data resources data to spur innovation and private-sector entrepreneurship in order to advance awareness of and preparedness for the impacts of climate change.

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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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The API Briefing: NIH’s Pillbox – Unlocking Valuable Government Health Information through APIs

The Food and Drug Administration collects drug labeling information for human prescription, over-the-counter, homeopathic, and veterinary products through a special markup language called “Structured Product Labeling” (SPL). The database created from the SPL submissions is a treasure trove of health information that is valuable to pharmacists, doctors, and the ordinary health consumer. The problem is that data is hard for developers to access and process. Until recently, when the National Library of Medicine released open source code for “Pillbox.

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Data Innovaton with Census at #HackForChange

Do you want to build an application, product or business that uses Census Bureau data? There are opportunities to give feedback and get involved. Two years ago, the Census Bureau launched its application programming interface (API), giving developers access to a variety of high value data sets, including our flagship 2010 Census and American Community Survey five-year estimates. These estimates provide statistics for every neighborhood in the nation, allowing developers to create new tools to help better understand their communities and solve real world issues.

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Visualizing Federal Data

At the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) we have a long history of using data graphics in our reports and congressional testimonies to explain our findings. From photographs, tables, and charts in the 1950s; to computer-generated data graphics in the mid-1980s; to the complex interactive graphics we’re just starting to use this year, our graphics have been critical in helping decision makers understand relationships and see trends in federal data.

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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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Sign up For DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit, Friday, May 30

We won’t build the government of the 21st century by drawing within the lines. We don’t have to tell you the hard work of building a digital government doesn’t exist in a vacuum or a bubble. Show us social media without mobile, Web without data and user experience without APIs. You can’t? That’s right—in reality, digital government intersects and cuts across boundaries every day in order to deliver the digital goods.

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Designing in the Open Training Recap

During the recent redesign of Data.gov, the team developed a process that helped them respond to public feedback, track the actions and hold themselves accountable. In a DigitalGov University webinar, “Designing in the Open—Public Participation in Government Web Design,” Phil Ashlock, chief architect at Data.gov, and Jeanne Holm, Data.gov evangelist, shared how integrating feedback from virtual, online and face-to-face testing, as well as across multiple social media platforms, helped dramatically change the design in the response to the needs of their users.

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Continued Progress and Plans for Open Government Data

One year ago today, President Obama signed an executive order that made open and machine-readable data the new default for government information. This historic step is helping to make government-held data more accessible to the public and to entrepreneurs while appropriately safeguarding sensitive information and rigorously protecting privacy. Freely available data from the U.S. government is an important national resource, serving as fuel for entrepreneurship, innovation, scientific discovery, and economic growth.

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The API Briefing: USDA’s Farmers Market Directory API

Around the D.C. area, one of the first signs of spring are the numerous farmers markets. In my neighborhood alone, I regularly visit four farmers markets that have a wide variety of produce and baked goods. Farmers markets are good for the local economy, and the easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables helps local communities. Realizing the importance of farmers markets, the USDA released the Farmers Market Directory API so that developers can create apps to help people find farmers markets in their area.

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Citizen Engagement at NASA

Recently, the White House hosted Stakeholder Engagement Workshops—an informal meet-up for citizens and federal agencies to discuss progress on Open Government. The third version of our Open Gov Plan is due June 1st. My Open Innovation teammates and I took the opportunity to attend the event. We gained valuable insights from citizen activists on what they want to see in agency plans, as well as how they will judge our progress on White House mandates for transparency, collaboration, and participation.

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Analyzing Search Data in Real-Time to Drive Decisions

DigitalGov Search recently rolled out a new open source technology stack, which gives the team access to real-time analytics and dashboards to monitor search trends. The ELK stack consists of Elasticsearch, a real-time search and analytics engine; Logstash, a log management tool; and Kibana, a data visualization engine for creating dashboards. The dashboard-building capabilities surface trends not seen otherwise when buried in the data, Ammie Farraj Feijoo, manager of DigitalGov Search said in a recent article in GCN.

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Civic Hacking: Pathways for Participation

The National Day of Civic Hacking is actually a weekend. An awe-inspiring two days of collaborative work where coders, designers, writers, innovative thinkers, and data geeks get together to solve problems and build things for their communities. For the Challenge.gov community, this is a fantastic opportunity to get live, hands-on experience talking with and working next to people in a real-time hacking environment. If you’re thinking about running a competition around data sets or have an idea you want to float to developers, you can do it here first and see what feedback and traction you get, before committing to a full-fledged prize competition.

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Digital Analytics Program (DAP): Oceans of Data

In the last 15 months, the federal Digital Analytics Program (DAP) monthly Web traffic has grown to more than 1.1 billion views gov-wide, providing Web analytics to 29 U.S. federal cabinet-level agencies and nearly 3,000 public-facing government Web properties. The mission of the DAP is to help improve digital citizen services by providing comprehensive digital analytics, training and best practices to agencies. Information reported in DAP Web Analytics is a gold mine for research and analysis for improving the effectiveness, efficiency and relevancy of information and services provided on the government websites.

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What to Do with Big Data?

Shortly after taking office in 2009, President Obama launched the Open Government Initiative, an effort to increase transparency, participation, and collaboration in the federal government. The initiative introduced a number of websites and strategies to offer raw government data, including research grant information on data.gov. For energy gurus, data.gov/energy offers downloads of energy-related data such as energy use and consumption in the U.S. Yet the mere provision of big data is not enough; a key component of making big data accessible is providing context and meaning to that data to enable the public to solve problems, identify patterns, and draw conclusions.

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DigitalGov Search: Our Open Source Strategy

At DigitalGov Search, we keep an eye on on our what our government counterparts are up to, both in the U.S. and other countries. We recently came across Gov.UK’s philosophy on and approach to coding in the open. It caught our attention and we realized we should also articulate our open source strategy. Use and Contribute to Open Source Projects Since 2010, we’ve embraced and leveraged open source software to build our site search service for federal, state, and local government websites.

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Introducing openFDA

Welcome to the new home of openFDA! We are incredibly excited to see so much interest in our work and hope that this site can be a valuable resource to those wishing to use public FDA data in both the public and private sector to spur innovation, further regulatory or scientific missions, educate the public, and save lives. Through openFDA, developers and researchers will have easy access to high-value FDA public data through RESTful APIs and structured file downloads.

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We Love it When a Plan Comes Together…

Federal agencies are currently hard at work developing revised Open Government Plans—blueprints that are published every two years, highlighting agency progress towards making their work more transparent, participatory, and collaborative, and outlining new open government commitments going forward. This iterative, biennial process grew out of the December 2009 Open Government Directive issued by the Office of Management and Budget, which instructed executive departments and agencies to take specific actions to incorporate the principles of openness set forth in the President’s Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, which he signed on his first full day in office.

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GitHub for Government Recap

As the definition of “developer” has grown and expanded, GitHub has become a place where anyone can do simple collaboration. It’s a free social network that tracks changes to any data, not just code, where stakeholders and developers can work on the same data simultaneously. Project Open Data, a cross-agency initiative developed by the White House, that looks at how to manage information as an asset in the 21st century, is powered by GitHub.

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DigitalGov Search: Cache Me If You Can

Slowness Hurts Web Pages Have you ever been frustrated when visiting a Web page that doesn’t load quickly? Have you ever left a slow Web page before it finished loading? You’re not alone. Several recent studies have quantified customers’ frustration with slow Web pages. Customers now expect results in the blink of an eye. This expectation means that your customers are won or lost in one second. A one second delay in loading a Web page equals 11% fewer page views, 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.

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Designing for Open Data: Improvements to Data.gov

We’ve written a few times about the changes that we’ve been working on for Data.gov to make it easier for users to find, understand, and use government data. Today you’ll notice even more changes to Data.gov – here’s a quick rundown of some of the main changes you’ll see, and why. Works on your mobile device The site is now responsive to the device you’re using. Pull up Data.

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Top 8 Best Practices for Federal Contact Centers

1. Meet all Laws, Requirements, Policies, and Directives for Federal Contact Centers Understand and follow all Privacy, Security, Disability, and Service Contract Act requirements. 2. Use Performance Metrics to Influence Business Rules and Drive Improvements Develop Key Performance Indicators/Metrics (see Performance Goals). CSLIC could be used as a start. 3. Develop and Use a Comprehensive Quality Assurance Program Monitor quality. Use data to provide feedback to website/content team.

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Always Future Ready: The Benefits of Open Content Models and Structured Data Webinar

“Future-ready content,” “responsive design,” “create once, publish everywhere” are all buzzwords you hear when talking about the present and future of Web publishing. But how do we get there? We all know that technology is only part of the answer. Open content models and structured data are a big part of the answer. Lakshmi Grama, Senior Digital Strategist in the Office of Communications and Education at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) discusses what structured content and open content models can do to help government agencies create content that is platform-agnostic, format-free, and device-independent in this November, 2013 webinar.

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Understanding Your Users’ Needs By Analyzing Search Terms

Analyzing your visitors’ search terms can help you better understand their needs. It can provide valuable data about the content and organization of the content on your site. Create a Semi-Automated Report of Terms Here’s how to create a semi-automated report for analyzing large amounts of search data on a regular basis. A human still needs to review the data for changes and new trends, but this process can save a lot of time once you have a solid understanding of the data and the spreadsheet functions in place.

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New Release on Next.Data.gov

Since the launch of Next.Data.gov, your help and ideas have made it possible to make two updates to the site. We’re naming these biweekly releases after the presidents so the one that launched this week is the Adams Release. We’re pleased to announce that much of the work was done by the Data.gov Presidential Innovation Fellow, Dave Caraway, whose passion is open data and how it can be used by entrepreneurs to build businesses and create jobs.

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DATA.Gov: The Next Step is Yours

Americans are rocking open data! From getting people to the emergency room faster with iTriage to helping them navigate road and rail after a disaster, people are innovating, building businesses, and creating safer communities. As developers get more sophisticated and businesses get better analytics, Data.gov needs to change to support them in new ways and your ideas will help to build that future. You are invited to create that new vision.

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Tour Data.gov 2.0

As you know, last month Data.gov launched its new open-source Data.gov 2.0 catalog (catalog.data.gov). Based on CKAN, a data management platform used by many open-data catalogs around the world, Data.gov’s new catalog has received nothing but kudos from users. For the first time, our raw datasets, tools and geospatial datasets are in one place making search and discovery easier than ever. To make exploring the new catalog even easier, Data.

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Tell Compelling Stories with Data Visualization

No information is more critical to your work than the numbers that reveal what’s happening, how you’re performing, and opportunities to do better. GovTech provides ten tips for getting the most from your data visualizations. The tips include: Use layers to tell a story Involve users in the design Be aware of multiple platforms Use style to tell a story In government services, the challenge merely begins with collecting vital data.

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