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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 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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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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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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Advice From Digital Thought Leaders

Many know that digital tools have become indispensable for connecting with many audiences—but we also know that what’s available in the digital realm is always changing. So how do you know what tools are best for your purpose? And how do you plan for your organization’s digital future when the pace of change is so rapid? Recently, we asked colleagues what advice they would give for developing a digital media strategy.

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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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Cybersecurity: Protecting Manufacturing Technology and Innovation

Recently a segment on my favorite morning news program stopped me in my tracks. The young and attractive hosts (why are they always so young and attractive?) were demonstrating new appliances including a smart refrigerator. The fridge was equipped with all kinds of high-tech features including touch screen displays, a camera inside that allows you to see the contents and Wi-Fi connectivity. You can see inside your fridge while grocery shopping, how convenient!

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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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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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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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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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Social Media Data Deep Dive: Turning Findings into Action

GobiernoUSA, just like USA.gov, is part of a unique effort with a large mission—to guide people to the government information and services they seek. We cover a lot of topics in Spanish via our website, social media platforms, email sends, and contact center. One of the communication channels we focus a lot of attention on is social media, and we routinely measure how our efforts are going. We focused first on our assumed engagement power hitter – Facebook, to learn more from its Insights analytics data.

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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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Analytics Success Series: USA.gov

USA.gov’s Analytics Success: using analytics data to inform design and responsivity to create a better experience for the user Last year, the USA.gov team found themselves facing a challenge. We were in need of a new content management system for our websites, USA.gov and Gobierno.USA.gov, which help people find and understand the most frequently requested government information. We wanted to align the content on those websites with content in the knowledge base used by our contact center; up until this point, the information in those two places had been similar but unique.

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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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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 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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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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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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FedRAMP Weekly Tips & Cues – August 10, 2016

Many of our cloud service providers (CSPs), federal agencies, and third party assessment organizations (3PAOs) often share common issues and questions when going through the FedRAMP process. To help guide our stakeholders, we will be providing weekly tips and address frequently asked questions and concerns. This week’s tips come from FedRAMP’s Accelerated event. Read the full list of questions asked during FedRAMP Accelerated here. Send potential tips and questions that you would like published as a tip [via email].

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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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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 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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95%: Describing the National Archives’ Holdings

The National Archives Catalog has reached a milestone: we now have 95% of our holdings completely described at the series level in our online catalog. This is a monumental achievement. Why? Because the National Archives holds over 14 billion pages of records, and we are adding hundreds of millions of pages to that total every year. Describing our records in the online Catalog means that the information for all of those holdings is in one central place for researchers anywhere to search and browse, and is vital to our strategic goal to Make Access Happen.

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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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WCMS and Custom APIs—Which One Is Right for You?

****Gray Brooks of GSA gave us a great definition of APIs in the DigitalGov University (DGU) presentation, Introduction to APIs. He described APIs as “Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, are web services that allow people to more easily consume content and data in multiple ways—via mobile devices, mobile apps, innovative mash-ups, and much more.” Simply put, “APIs are a better way to get government information and services into the hands of the people who need them.

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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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Trends on Tuesday: Key Trends for Government from Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends

Internet strategist Mary Meeker delivered her 2016 Internet Trends report this month, and there are several key takeaways for government agencies to consider and continue tracking as our connected world continues to evolve: Mobile phone adoption and Internet growth is meeting saturation. Incremental global growth will continue (especially in India, which she called out for their wild expansion) but especially for Americans, most people that want to be on the Internet can be on the Internet.

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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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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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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: 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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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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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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Using Code to Spur Innovation

This week, President Obama will travel to SxSW (South by Southwest) to talk about how we can use technology to tackle tough challenges. This underscores how important data—government data, in particular—is to improving and fueling our democracy forward. 2015 saw many open data milestones by agencies, including: New advancements in HHS’s syndication storefront New features to analytics.usa.gov dashboard (now with agency-specific dashboards USPTO’s PatentsView Education’s New College Scorecard FEMA’s new Data Visualization Tool APIs from FEC , Labor and NASA (to name a few) There is also more to come (and more that’s needed).

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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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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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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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A 2016 Look Ahead: What’s on the Horizon for Digital Government?

With January, and the tearing off of the old calendar, comes the annual taking stock of where we’ve been in the last year and where we can go in the year ahead. So for this month’s editorial theme, we’re taking a closer look at what we think 2016 will bring for digital government—from mobile and content, to open data and accessibility. If our “prognosticators” are correct, this year will be the year when apps become more Web-like; video could overtake social media as the preferred method to communicate; and the number of sensors providing real-time access to (government) data will dramatically increase…just to name a few.

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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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Trends on Tuesday: Providing Anytime, Anywhere Government Through Mobile App Competitions

Agencies have used an open data competition approach in their quest to provide anytime, anywhere government. For example, in 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted the Apps for the Environment challenge and has a hub for apps created using EPA data. Here’s an update on challenges hosted by other agencies: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), hosted a nationwide Reference Data Challenge to create mobile apps through Devpost.

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18F Reflects on Their Most Meaningful Projects in 2015

2015 was a big year for 18F. We almost doubled in size, worked with 28 different agency partners, and released products ranging from Design Method Cards to cloud.gov. Internally, we improved onboarding and our documentation by releasing guides on topics as diverse as content, accessibility, and creating good open source projects. To mark the end of the year, we reached out to everyone at 18F and asked them to reflect on a meaningful project they worked on this year.

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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: 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: 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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The Data Briefing: Highlights from 300 Federal Mobile Moments

DigitalGov’s theme this month is mobile moments, which explores the impact of mobile applications in the federal government. For this post, I am examining the more than 300 mobile apps created by the federal government. An updated list of federal mobile apps is on USA.gov. According to the list, 73 federal organizations have released mobile apps on a wide variety of topics. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has the most mobile apps with 31 releases.

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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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Bringing Water Protection into the Modern Age

Information technology is everywhere. How we communicate, and how we share with one another has gone digital, saving paper, time, money, and making it easier to get information faster and more reliably. Forty-three years ago, when the Clean Water Act was enacted, things moved a little slower. But the significance and impact of this important law remains today. It has helped clean up our lakes and rivers, and ensure that Americans are drinking safe water so we can live active, healthy lives.

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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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Caution: Your Web Analytics Might Not Be Human

A Digital Analytics Program (DAP) user recently contacted me with an observation/problem: The data he had from his website’s independent Web-analytics account was much, much higher than the data he was receiving in the DAP user interface. Theoretically, both tools (in this case, two separate Google Analytics accounts), were trying to measure the same thing, and he couldn’t figure out why the numbers would be so different. When I say different, I mean substantially so.

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Monthly Theme: Learning to Ride the Metrics Wave

We are awash in data. Data in our personal lives gives us information on everything from our nightly sleeping patterns to how many of our friends shared our latest quip on social media. So too in our professional world, where we can see the most popular devices people use to navigate our websites and are told which time of day is the best to send out our communications. All of this data can help us make smart decisions that will ultimately provide our customers with a better experience—but only if we know what our end goals are and what metrics we need to measure to get there.

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Analytics Pitfall: Avoid this Common Implementation Mistake

In large agencies, lots of Web teams touch digital analytics in one way or another, and we have had the pleasure of working with teams both within and outside our agency. For us, hearing from a diverse set of perspectives has been a great learning experience. However, over the course of many meetings, we have also come to notice one critical misconception that has found firm footing in the federal digital analytics space: the belief that you do not need to track visits (or sessions) across subdomains.

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An Innovation Framework That Delivers: The SunShot Catalyst Program

Behind every great innovation is a team. And behind successful innovation teams are efficient tools, processes, and most importantly, people. The Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative funds projects that make solar energy more affordable and accessible for Americans. As part of the initiative, the SunShot Catalyst open innovation program seeks to rapidly deliver solar solutions through prize challenges. Catalyst has been recognized as a leader in the innovation field. The International Society for Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM) recently awarded Catalyst the ISPIM Grand Prize 2015 for excellence in innovation management.

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Need Actionable Analytics Reports? Here’s Help

The Digital Analytics Program (DAP) provides a wealth of standard Web analytics reports within its current Web analytics tool (Google Analytics Premium). Yet, navigating through big data with a standard report can be a challenge and definitely takes a few clicks. To quickly get to the insights of your agency websites’ traffic, building your own custom reports and segments is the way to go. As part of its on-going effort to educate and empower DAP users with Web analytics knowledge, the DAP team has put together the DAP Custom Reporting Catalog with many of the frequently used custom templates.

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Solve Federal IT Problems Through Cross-Collaboration

39 participants. 17 agencies. 6 months. Earlier this year, the CIO Council launched the IT Solutions Challenge, an initiative to engage GS 9-13 level rising stars in the IT and IT acquisition community. Participants identify shared challenges, those challenges where you might say to yourself, “if only we could [x], life would be so much easier!” Working together over 6 months, the teams prototype and make recommendations for solutions.

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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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Creating a Social Media Report That Matters

As with any communications effort, the social media bottom line comes down to impact. Can you prove that the time, money and effort put into social media helped achieve your agency’s goals? In a world obsessed with big data, it’s tempting to track every detail simply because you can. With more data comes more confusion over what data is important enough be tracked and, just as essential, how to report that data in a way that facilitates decision making.

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As the World Churns: Earthquake Detection via Twitter

When one thinks of social media, usually it is thought of as a tool to keep in touch with friends and family. Behind all the social networking lies vast amounts of data that can be used in a multitude of ways. This data is an opportunity for government agencies to improve the services they provide to the public. There are a number of agencies that are using social media data in order to improve services and cut costs.

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The API Briefing: Government APIs in a Post-Apps World

Take out your smartphone and count the number of apps that you have. How many of these apps do you use daily? What about the apps you use weekly? Do you have any apps that you installed but used only once? Any apps that you have never used? What kind of apps do you have? Are most of the apps used to communicate with friends and family? How many gaming apps do you have?

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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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The API Briefing: the Challenge of Government’s Dark Data

By now, you are familiar with “big data” or datasets that are so large that they cannot be analyzed by conventional analytical methods. You may have heard of “long data” which is data that has a temporal context. I work with long data when I analyze hiring patterns over time in workforce data. There is also “small data.” Small data are datasets that describe a current condition. For example, if you have a smart home appliance such as a smart thermostat or a home security system, that appliance is constantly monitoring data such as temperature or if a door is open.

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The Content Corner: Creating Engaging Content with Data

Over the last several years, continuing advances in computer processing power and storage have brought about the growth of what some call big data. Mobile and wearable devices now also generate large amounts of data via our interaction with various apps and our geographic location. This endless stream of information is being harnessed to create extremely informative dashboards like analytics.usa.gov and helping make advances in medicine and even farming possible.

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HTTPS For All

With the release of a new dashboard to measure best Web practices in the federal government and the establishment of a government-wide HTTPS Only Standard, the time to make the switch to HTTPS has arrived. Agencies have until December 31, 2016, to make the switch. The move to HTTPS is not only happening in government; it is also becoming the standard in industry as well. Firefox and Chrome have begun taking actions to phase out HTTP to make browsing more secure.

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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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StudentAid.gov: Using Data to Empower Borrowers

It’s been a while, but in previous posts, I described what we’ve learned from operating StudentAid.gov, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid website created to educate students and borrowers about the federal student aid programs and process and help them make informed decisions about financing college and career school. We first released the site in 2012, but we haven’t sat still yet! The plan has always been to create new and integrate current features that exist on other FSA websites.

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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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Three Ways to Evolve Your Agency’s Customer Mindset

Customer experience (CX) improvement projects come in many forms, but evolving an agency’s entire mindset to be customer-focused requires far more in the way of commitment, time, staff and organizational patience. As the senior CX lead for a U.S. government agency and an advisory committee member to the President’s Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) goal on customer service, 100 percent of my focus since joining Export-Import Bank from the private sector has been on evolving the customer strategy for Ex-Im Bank, and helping other agencies do the same.

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The API Briefing: Be Prepared with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Mobile App

Before coming to DC in late 2008, I lived in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is in the Ohio Valley Region, which meteorologists euphemistically call “weather-rich.” With spring came the beautiful flowers and the Kentucky Derby. Spring also brought flooding, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and windstorms. This is why I had several emergency weather radios that also doubled as flashlights and cell phone chargers. I also have several emergency information apps on my smartphone.

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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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Using a Hypothesis-Driven Approach in Analyzing (and Making Sense) of Your Website Traffic Data

At the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), some of the most frequently asked questions we get are “how can I get access to the DAP data?” and “what do I do with all this data?” We all know that data is knowledge, and knowledge is power, but once we have access to it and realize that it is, indeed, oceans of data, how do we not “drown” in it, and, perhaps more importantly, how do we make sense of it?

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NASA APIs: Opening Data Assets

Data is one of the most important assets at NASA. We have data on comets, measurements of Mars, and real-time imagery of Earth. But what good is data if you can’t access it? Not good at all! We’re in the process of building a site (at api.nasa.gov) to catalog NASA APIs that structure access to our data, making it eminently easy for developers to build applications. An application, here, is broadly defined and includes research applications, mobile applications, policy applications—any data use that converts information into insight and action.

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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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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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The API Briefing: Free Federal Energy and Economic Information Delivered Straight to Your Spreadsheet

Back in November 2014, I wrote about the Federal Reserve of St. Louis’ FRED® (Federal Reserve Economic Data) API. A user can access 238,000 economic trends through FRED® through a website and mobile apps. What is unique about FRED® is that a user can pull economic data directly into an Excel spreadsheet. Now, the FRED® Excel plugin is joined by the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Excel plugin. The tool, which launched on March 18, incorporates both energy data from the EIA API and economic data from FRED®.

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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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The API Briefing: Fulfilling the D(e)SIRE for Renewable Energy with the Department of Energy’s New API

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency® (DSIRE®) provides information on incentives and policies for renewables and energy efficiency in the U.S. This joint project by the Department of Energy and North Carolina State University just released an API to query DSIRE®’s database. Developers can view the sample output by visiting the database query page. They can query by state or ZIP code to receive a listing of programs.

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Data, Code, and API Event Round Up

DigitalGov University has hosted some great events over the last year in partnership with Data.gov, the MobileGov Community and 18F to bring you information on opening data and building APIs. This month we’ve rounded up the events over the past year so that you can see what’s been offered. Use the comments below to offer up suggestions on what else you’d like to see on the schedule.

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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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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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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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With Every Tool Possible: Supporting Humanitarian Aid Efforts Through Crowdsourced Mapping

Fighting malaria in Botswana with a group of high school students in D.C. Contributing to the Ebola response from the West Bank. These scenarios may not fit the typical image of humanitarian aid efforts, but technology has transformed the possibilities for public participation in international development. Crowdsourced mapping projects have become key contributors in relief efforts and highlight the collaborative work that can be done between government, non-profit organizations, and the public.

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Crowdsourcing Month: An Overview

This month we’ll be highlighting articles about crowdsourcing. These are the programs that use a variety of online mechanisms to get ideas, services, solutions, and products by asking a large, diverse crowd to contribute their expertise, talents, and skills. Among the mechanisms are hackathons, data jams, code-a-thons, prize competitions, workplace surveys, open ideation, micro-tasks or microwork, citizen science, crowdfunding, and more. A brief look at history outlines a few notable prize competitions, crowdsourcing where solvers are given a task and winners are awarded a prize: The X-Prize and its many iterations from personal space flight to unlocking the secrets of the ocean, Charles Lindburgh’s flight across the Atlantic for the Orteig Prize, and the 300 year-old Longitude Prize, launched by an act of Parliament in Britain to determine a ship’s longitude with the goal of reducing shipwrecks.

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Secrets to a Dynamite Public Sector Analytics Program

Uncovering meaningful analytics from months or years of Web metrics is daunting, at best. So how do you make great Web improvements using metrics? Whether you’re just getting started in Web analytics or you want to take your program to the next level, you should focus on accurate data, customer service, and concrete goals, said Sam Bronson, Web Analytics Program Manager at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in a Sept.

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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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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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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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PolicyOps—A Better Way to Create and Implement Government Policies and Programs?

“PolicyOps” is a better way to create and implement government policies and programs through cutting-edge data analytics and new collaboration methods. PolicyOps (“Policy” plus “Operations”) is a new proposal for improving policy making and policy implementation. Based on a cutting-edge IT management method, DevOps (“Development” plus “Operations”), PolicyOps has two major concepts. First, closer collaboration and coordination between policy designers and policy implementers. Second, a single view of the policy environment reality agreed on by the policy designers and policy implementers.

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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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Usability and Open Source Go Hand-in-Hand for Data.gov

Data.gov launched a major upgrade today, moving to a new catalog based on an open source data management system calledCKAN. In the process of migrating to a new data catalog, Data.gov had the opportunity to do another round of usability testing. Lucky for us, the DigitalGov User Experience Program, that teaches agencies how to test federal websites, is right in our own backyard. With today’s launch, you’ll see the initial results of what we learned from our testers; an expert 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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