Mixing Virtual and Real-World Experiences at Events

We've talked about the impact Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are having in government work, but the technologies also stand to make a huge difference in the events world. This opens up new possibilities for learning and interaction. Currently, VR is being introduced into events as entertainment -- an add-on experience to networking and gala dinners. AI is being used behind the scenes to expedite event logistics. Soon, both technologies will make their way further into events and change how attendees interact with the event and each other.

  • International Collaboration - Google is testing a new speech-to-speech translation technology, Translatotron, which would enable real-time translation at events. Through headsets, attendees would hear a close approximation of the speaker's voice in their selected language in near real-time. The AI translation can run as long as people are willing to talk and listen. Events could use this two-way communication technology for general session Q&A as well as one-on-one networking.
  • Accessibility - AI and VR are reimagining sign language interpretation. HoloHear uses Microsoft HoloLens goggles to show a signing virtual reality figure. This augmented reality helps the deaf maintain focus on the speaker, on-stage visuals, and the translator.
  • Training - While face-to-face interaction will continue to be a huge part of events and training, VR-led training is being introduced to tackle a number of more "challenging interpersonal scenarios" where in-person training might be uncomfortable.
  • More realistic experience - An event is a great place to get hands-on with a product, but it may not be the best place to truly experience a product. This article illustrates how using VR can put people in the ideal atmosphere. For example, the reaction someone may have to drinking an expensive champagne may be different if they are looking around a noisy tradeshow floor versus being immersed in a VR experience at a five-star restaurant. Building the right atmosphere for the initial product experience may lead to a better reception and reaction.

We'd love to hear from you! What are some applications of VR and AI you've seen at events? Share your thoughts in the comments. Visit GovEvents for more government events worldwide.

Department Spotlight: U.S. Department of the Treasury

The U.S. Department of the Treasury is the steward of U.S. economic and financial systems, and is responsible for maintaining the nation's financial infrastructure. This includes the production of currency, the disbursement of payments to the American public, revenue collection, and the borrowing of funds necessary to run the federal government. The most familiar agency within Treasury may also be the most dreaded, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). With tax time approaching, we thought it was a good time to look at the challenges and focus of the Treasury.

  • Cybercrime - The Treasury has always been focused on preventing fraud related to currency and tax evasion, but much like the Department of Defense has recognized cyberspace as a new battlefield. Treasury is now focusing on the Internet as the primary stage for money-related crimes. The speed at which crimes are carried out online require new techniques and tools. The use of cryptocurrencies to mask criminal behavior is also a huge focus of the Treasury's investigative departments.
  • Blockchain - While blockchain has a tie to the movement of cryptocurrencies (both legitimate and criminal), Treasury is also looking at the technology as a way to better facilitate the management of federal grant funds. In one case, the National Science Foundation is using blockchain to track grant payments and ensure that the terms of the grant are being followed.
  • Cloud - Like the Intelligence community, Treasury is looking to develop a cloud solution that meets the unique security needs of its mission while delivering on the efficiencies of the on-demand nature of cloud. The Department is developing a proposal for "T-Cloud," an enterprise wide suite of cloud and professional services across multiple providers. The goal to is award this contract and get it implemented by 2022.
  • Citizen Experience - The IRS may be one of the most visible government agencies as citizens interact with them at least once a year. With their high touch with the public, the IRS has been a leader in redefining what customer service means in government. In fiscal 2018, 90% of customers were satisfied with their service via phone or a tax assistance center. This does not mean the work is done. A recent report gave the IRS a C+ on its use of language, saying the agency needs to make their web content more user-friendly using Plain Language

For those working at or supporting the Treasury, there are several upcoming events that can help bring these challenges and their solutions into focus.

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Meeting the Needs of the Federal Workforce

The U.S. Federal government is the single largest employer in the country (even just counting civilian employees, not military). With the size and scope of work involved in running our government programs, this community of over two million people is incredibly diverse, but there are some commonalities in terms of workforce challenges and concerns.

  • Automation - There is a real fear as digital initiatives become routine and administrative tasks are automated, machines will take over the work of humans. However, workforce and technology leaders have said over and over this is simply not the reality. Yes, certain tasks that people used to do will be handled by machines, but that shift frees up those same people to do other, more valuable work. The government is committed to "reskilling" the workforce to be able to rise to these new, more innately human tasks and, in turn, expect to see increased job satisfaction as people move from rote, mundane tasks, to activity that has a closer connection to the mission of the organization they work for.
  • Relocation - The military has grown accustomed to the BRAC process as bases are closed or their use changes to better support the realities of global defense. However, relocation is now a reality for the civilian workforce. With telework and remote workforces now better enabled, it is not as critical that all workers are located in Washington, DC. The government, including the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior, has been looking for ways to consolidate operations in areas that are more central to the constituents they serve and are in areas of the country with lower real estate prices and cost of living.
  • Stability - Once thought to be the most stable of jobs, recent spending impasses and resulting government shutdowns have left one in four government workers worried about the impact a shutdown would have on their life.

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Putting the F-U-N back in Learning Fundamentals

We all know we should seek out training and growth opportunities and most of us truly want to grow and learn. However, the process of finding and participating in professional development can feel onerous and boring. Fortunately, this does not need to be the case. A simple shift in thinking can "spark joy" in the professional development process.

Find the Easy Button - Of course we're biased, but we like to think GovEvents is an easy button for finding training. We created this site to be a central hub for finding events applicable to growing careers and organizations in the government market. Use our search engine to narrow down your search by topic, location, continuing education credits, and more. Beyond us, reach out to your HR department. Those teams put in a lot of work developing in-house training and career development opportunities. Bottom line - tap into the research others have already done to find your perfect training match. Continue reading

2020 Is Not the Year for Hindsight – A Look at Government Priorities

With the government fiscal year starting in October, our Federal government gets a head start on their New Year's resolutions. As we launch into a new year--a new decade, even--we wanted to take a quick look at government technology priorities for 2020 and beyond.

Cybersecurity - In the past decade security has transitioned from a stand-alone technology that had to be added to planning and systems, to a utility-type service that is baked into every piece of technology deployed within government. This fall, Federal CIO, Suzette Kent shared her focus areas for the next year (and beyond) to include cross-agency information sharing, improved identity management, and increased workforce cybersecurity literacy.

Reskilling - The introduction of automation into administrative functions is driving a need for employees to be re-skilled. While machines are not taking over the jobs of humans, they are improving efficiency in many roles, freeing up time for people to take on more complex (and frankly, more interesting and more important) roles within an organization. Continue reading