When I was in the private sector, around the year 2000, I worked for an information technology (IT) consulting company as a project manager and developer. On one project, I provided support for early mobile devices given to medical students. I worked in a small office around the corner from the cardio-respiratory simulator (CRS). The CRS was a life-sized human dummy that could simulate several conditions including a heart attack, a collapsed lung, and other heart and lung issues.
At HIV.gov, we’re often asked if videos are effective tools for communicating HIV prevention and treatment information. Our experience, the work of our partners, and current research continue to support the use of video for informing and empowering individuals. Using video as part of a comprehensive communication strategy can increase the engagement and effectiveness of the health messages. Recent data report: Video is an extremely popular format for content delivery 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week.
Amidst the chaos of an active shooter event, preparedness is key to a seamless, swift and effective response—and a new video game funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory just might do the trick. Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, or EDGE, is a virtual training platform, available now to all response agencies nationwide. Built on the Unreal Engine, it allows responders of all disciplines to assume discipline-based avatars and simultaneously role-play complex response scenarios.
Helping patients manage chronic pain has become an increasing challenge for health care providers, particularly in the face of an ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States. In response, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has made funding research on integrative health approaches to pain management—exploring which approaches can be implemented as part of an overall treatment strategy—a research priority.
If you were to perform research on the value proposition of training videos, you would notice that opinions are split on their efficacy. Despite all the tools that are out there that can help you evaluate video quality, views, and drop-off, there are some things that should be considered in the analysis of your organization’s videos. As a member of the Service Design practice at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), I was tasked with a research project evaluating how non-consumers interact with the CFPB in regards to complaint data.
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.
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).
Trends on Tuesdays: Mobile Phone Camera Upgrades Offer Interesting Opportunities for Government Agencies
Professional photographer and early “iPhonography” pioneer, Chase Jarvis coined the phrase, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” The recent jumps in mobile phone photo technology presents interesting opportunities for government agencies to consider as mobile phone cameras are starting to rival and surpass professional gear. When Google and Apple both announced their annual flagship phone upgrades this past month, the Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus, respectively, the most talked about and touted features were the cameras.
What does Snapchat, the disappearing message-and-video platform most used by teenagers, have to do with government outreach and communications programs? Well, Snapchat has quickly become an incredibly effective digital storytelling medium, and content creators across multiple government agencies have adopted it as an important part of their programs. A recent New York Times article described how nearly 35 million users in the United States watched highlights and stories from the Summer Olympics on Snapchat.
Suddenly, digital video is everywhereon your social timelines. As a government storyteller, you may be overwhelmed about all the tools available and all of the features each publishing platform has to offer. Facebook, Twitter and SnapChat all offer great video platforms that are free and easy to use, plus they make it easy for you to market to your social followers on those respective platforms. When most people think of Google, they often think of the search engine, but Google also has been on the forefront of creating media and research tools, metric suites and content presentation platforms for years.
This spring, the eRegulations Notice & Comment team began building out a new feature set for the platform — adding the ability for agencies with proposed regulations to show the public more precisely the changes being proposed and allow agencies to receive more granular, contextual, and better-organized comments. One of the challenges we wrestled with was how to share our work out frequently and openly with the dozens of interested parties, while not making that a blocker in focusing on our work of doing many demos for the many different parties interested in and informing our work.
Tech giants have changed the world of broadcast forever. In a little more than a year, video on Facebook went from being a seldomly seen media type on a user’s timeline to a strategic priority for Mark Zuckerberg. The platform now serves over 8 billion video views a day and Facebook continues to roll out improvements to Facebook Live, a tool that lets any Facebook user easily broadcast from their mobile phone.
The medium is the message. Marshall McLuhan In a little over a year, Facebook video went from simply being one of the content types that could be shared to the user timeline to a 8B video views per day powerhouse that’s also a huge priority for Mark Zuckerberg. We’ve heard about the big numbers from digital native publishers like AJ+ and NowThis, and we’ve heard from the doubters who say that the metrics don’t hold up to traditional TV measurements.
The art of storytelling has been around since the dawn of mankind. Storytelling remains relevant today, and a recent effort by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows how agencies can use storytelling to showcase great projects while also teaching employees new communication strategies. Over the past year, Chris Reed, an environmental protection specialist in EPA’s Office of Policy, led a nationwide team that produced a set of 30 videos that highlight sustainability initiatives within the agency.
When discussing trends for 2016, I made some mention of the content overload that started in 2015 but will certainly increase in 2016. Contently recently found that organizations created 73% more content in 2015 than in 2014. I see no reason why that number will decline in 2016, especially as content becomes the beast of burden of choice for a majority of organizations both public and private. Today, I wanted to share some content types that you can leverage to possibly help stand out among the deluge.
The answer may surprise you. It takes time, resources and actual money. Why prepare a video for something that can be written about and released in a shorter timespan at a much lower cost? This question is now the new normal. But are we asking the right question? Consider if the engagement seen on Spanish video content has a bigger payoff than its English counterpart. According to a Nielsen report, the average Hispanic spends more than eight hours viewing online videos every month.
Mobile video is starting to hit its second wave for both consumption and creation, and government agencies can prepare now to ride this new channel for mobile and social engagement. Fueled by mobile bandwidth and cellular stability steadily increasing and consumers’ comfort with larger mobile devices fueling more video watching on mobile, a plethora of social apps now allow you to live stream and watch on mobile devices.
Updated: Added link to Twitter’s blog post on direct video uploads. Around the time that Tim Fullerton of the Department of Interior delivered his webcast to DigitalGov audiences about publishing video content to Facebook, we at the Broadcasting Board of Governors were comparing the differences in user behavior on the Facebook and YouTube video platforms (note: BBG is the federal agency that oversees all U.S. civilian international media, including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.
Sonia stands at the pharmacy counter, flashing her most brilliant smile. Jorge, the handsome neighborhood pharmacist, dispenses his own easy smile as they chat. Sound like an ordinary soap opera? This telenovela is actually a tool to help Spanish-speaking women make smart medication decisions. The four part telenovela series ¡Nunca Más! was developed by the Office of Women’s Health in the Food and Drug Administration. The office works to make all of their materials available in Spanish, and the popularity of telenovelas in the Spanish-speaking community made the project a perfect fit for delivering important health information.
Several federal agencies and offices have worked together to create a free and easy way for public health partners to incorporate our Web content, images, video, data, and infographics into other sites, apps, and social media. Through digital media syndication, the science-based resources of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) can be combined with your ongoing activities at the state and local levels, and can help coordinate health messaging for maximum impact and reach.
Increasingly, we’ve noticed that our agency customers are publishing their highest quality images on social media and within database-driven multimedia galleries on their websites. These sources are curated, contain metadata, and have both thumbnails and full-size images. That’s a big improvement in quality over the images embedded within HTML pages on agencies’ websites. After some investigating, we decided we could leverage their Flickr and Instagram photos to build an image search engine that better met their needs.
Content is no longer limited to .gov sites. As mentioned in a recent blog post, Sharing is Caring, Adding Social Media Accounts to Search, DigitalGov Search uses Flickr, Instagram, and YouTube to populate image and video search results. On September 30, 2014, I presented with Justin Herman from the Social Media Community of Practice about: What DigitalGov Search is How it integrates social image and video search How search analytics can help social media managers better understand their customers’ needs If you weren’t able to join us, you can download the slides or view the 30 minute webinar on YouTube.
“Content is king” is a generally accepted truth for those of us who produce digital media. But once you have compelling content, how to best present it to your audience becomes the next challenge. In recent years, Web innovators started emphasizing the effectiveness of “digital storytelling,” or content focused on individual, human experiences using compelling and engaging formats to convey information. At the Department of State’s, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, we recently tried our hand at executing a digital storytelling effort employing rarely-used-in-government techniques to tell a story about cultural heritage, partnership, teamwork, and preservation.
Making Web content and video accessible to people with disabilitiesis the law. Ensuring a video is accessible requires planning. Taking steps from day one will save you time and money. To verify that a video is accessible you’d need to incorporate three elements: Captioning Audio descriptions An Accessible video player Why Accessibility Matters Many government agencies are taking advantage of the popularity of online video to further their missions and meet the Presidential mandate forincreasing the efficiency and effectiveness of government information to serve the American public.
When you watch a video on your computer, the window that displays your video is called a “video player.” It usually has start, pause, and other buttons. You might not be aware that you’re using a player at all—you just watch your video. A fully-accessible video player (e.g. Section 508-compliant) can be used by a person with disabilities, including, for example, someone who may be paralyzed and can’t use a mouse.
What are Audio Descriptions? Audio Description, also called descriptive video or video description, is an additional audio track that describes and gives context for essential visual information. Audio Description makes videos and multimedia accessible to people who have “low vision” (very poor vision), or who are blind, by capturing what is happening on screen into audible descriptions that are played during natural pauses in the audio track. Here is a video that explains why audio descriptions are important to include.
What are Captions? In a video, captions collect all audio information and describe them using text. They include not only spoken content but also non-speech information such as sound effects, music, laughter, and speaker identification and location (for example, audio spoken off-screen). Captions appear transposed over the visual elements in a video, and are synchronized so they appear at the same time as they are spoken or generated.
The more public information is digitized, the more it lands on or sprouts from social media channels. This is why there needs to be a greater level of awareness and consideration for those who can benefit most from that information—people with disabilities—since they have the least access to it. Like many websites, social media platforms present some of the greatest barriers in digital accessibility. Social media connects people and so much more Social media is a part of millions of people’s daily activities, from job searches to finding important information that can affect them as individuals, family members, students, caregivers, and more.
You’ve probably noticed the trend toward more visual content being shared across social platforms—pictures, infographics and how-to videos seem to be popping up everywhere. We certainly noticed that trend across several government social media properties, so when USA.gov was preparing to launch our campaign introducing the 2014 Consumer Action Handbook (CAH), we wanted to create highly-visual social content to see how it would do in comparison to standard text and link social content.
At Kids.gov, we noticed a lot of our search terms were for different jobs: veterinarian, teacher, police officer. We offer links to these areas, but thought it would be great if we met and interviewed government employees in the DC area. We started doing videos in 2010 that highlight cool government careers. Some people we’ve interviewed: a White House chef, a zoo keeper and a prosthetist from Walter Reed.
Videographers in the federal government come from a variety of backgrounds—commercial television news, the armed services or broadcast/film school. Many of these individuals continue to hone their craft through the years, adopting new technology, taking training courses, learning new editing software, and expanding skill sets to add graphics, animation and photography capabilities to their production toolbox. With the growing need for video content for communicating messages internally to agency/department employees, or educating and informing the American public through social media, there’s a growing number of people in federal service who are picking up recording devices to tell video stories.
Communication professionals pride themselves on coming up with big ideas and big messages. But moving a great idea from conceptualization to execution can be challenging, especially when you want to keep your budget in check. Storyboards can greatly assist in this process, a strategy I found to be critical to the success of a new animated video developed for StopBullying.gov. StopBullying.gov provides information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how you can prevent and respond to bullying.
The script is king when it comes to creating a video. Once you have the words, it’s the pictures that will tell the story. Storyboards are a key component in video production. They serve as a guide during the production process, allowing the video producer to determine how the use of footage, sound bites, audio (music, sound effects, natural sound) and graphics, will effectively communicate the key messages before production begins.
In support of open government, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) expansion of webstreamed meetings has allowed more participants around the country to hear about existing and proposed nuclear sites. It was lauded in a recent White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) blog about the upcoming 2014 Open Government plans and achievements from past plans. An agency that prides itself on openness in its regulatory activities, NRC has been webstreaming public meetings since 1997, when the Office of Information Services conducted a “pilot” test of nine Commission meetings to ascertain the interest of stakeholders and the public in viewing these meetings, as they took place over the Internet.
In July 2013, U.S. Forest Service fisheries biologist Pete Schneider launched a YouTube Live video event from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in Alaska. The goal of the project was to not only deliver a reliable 2-month long, 24/7, live video stream where an international audience could witness spawning Sockeye salmon, hungry Dolly Varden, cunning Cutthroat, and schools of disorientated Coho fry, but to also use the platform as way to collaborate and converse with viewers.
It is undeniable the reach of online video into our modern lives. From cats in shark costumes riding on Roombas to the 2.1 million people live streaming the 2012 Super Bowl. Online video inspires us with TED talks and allows us to feel the rush of Felix Baumgartner jumping from space. With online video so embedded (online video geek pun) in our lives, it makes perfect sense for Government to use online video to engage its citizens.
YouTube recently upgraded to the new One Channel design. The new design emphasizes responsive layouts for mobile devices, tablets, desktops and laptops, and TVs. A single banner on a white background replaces a customizable background and color scheme. YouTube recommends using a single 2560 x 1440 px image that fits its template. The featured video has been replaced by a Channel trailer for non-subscribers. Think of it as a short video that welcomes people to your Channel and tells them what it is about and why they should subscribe.
Don’t include Internet music, video, or graphics in your video unless you understand the copyright. Yes, this is a pain, but companies take copyright very seriously and regularly file both takedown notices and lawsuits against offenders. Numerous laws like the Digital Media Copyright Act (DMCA) discuss in great detail the “ins and outs” of using web–based media. Here’s a few important points on understanding copyright: Assume All Material is Copyrighted Nearly all the material on the Web is covered by intellectual property laws.
Introduction USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov use social media to make government information easy for people to find, access, and use. Among the essential tools we use are videos, which we host on USA.gov YouTube and GobiernoUSA.gov’s YouTube channels. We are always looking for opportunities to feature and leverage important government information, by posting videos from various government agencies. We welcome and invite all government agencies to collaborate with us on providing useful and relevant information to the public.
Government videos need to follow two main laws: People with disabilities must be able to fully experience them, and They must adhere to privacy laws 1. Making Video Accessible for People with Disabilities (Section 508) Federal employees are required by law (Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) to make the materials they create usable for people with disabilities. Section 508 applies to video as well. There are three main requirements for making a video 508 accessible.
[ ](https://s3.amazonaws.com/digitalgov/_legacy-img/2013/12/b8-stock-footage.jpg) If you’re creating video, stock footage can be your best friend. If you need shots of people walking around, a photo of Chicago, the sound of footsteps or a Latin soundtrack, someone else has already probably already created it and made it available for free! Also known as B–roll, stock footage is extra material that may or may not have appeared in previous productions. Be sure to read about copyright, to ensure you don’t grab licensed video or music by accident.