Continuing Efforts to Make Cloud a Government Reality

Cloud Computing has moved from a fringe technology that agencies were willing to try to a mainstream part of IT strategy and infrastructure. CloudFirst guidance from the executive branch got agencies looking at cloud as an option as they modernize systems. FedRAMP provided a standard for cloud security for government, easing the fears that a move to cloud meant a less secure system. Agencies have provided a host of guidance on how to use the cloud in their particular environments and for their missions.  The intelligence community even went so far as to design a cloud that meets the specific needs of its users.

But even with this growing comfort, it's been a slow implementation process. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security set up a cloud steering group after realizing that of their 584 applications only 29 were currently in the cloud, and another 52 were in the process of moving. They understood the cost and performance benefits of cloud but needed a way to accelerate the move.  Beyond the technical aspect of designing cloud for government, there are also policy issues including a Supreme Court-level discussion of how and when cloud providers have to release data that they store. Continue reading

The No Phone Zone: Cell Phone Blackouts at Events

We've written here in the past about embracing attendees' love of mobile devices and how to integrate mobile into events. While including the use of mobile can make the event more interactive and also help appeal to a younger demographic, sometimes you just want attendees to focus. We'd like to take a look at what events would look like if phones, tablets, and computers were banned from events.

This thought likely made many of you gasp. Hours away from your phone and connectivity can be unnerving. A study from Deloitte found that people in the U.S. ages 18 to 75 check their device approximately 47 times per day. Even with this innate reliance on phones and the amplification social media can provide a brand, many entertainers are pushing for their fans to go dark. Musicians including Alicia Keys, Guns N' Roses, Adele and comedians Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock are calling their concerts and performances "phone-free zones." Rock even goes so far as to have any phone using offenders escorted out of the venue. Continue reading

If You Build It They Will Come? Not Always. Converting Registrants to Attendees

When we surveyed our GovEvents' organizer members in the fall, we asked an open-ended question, "What is your biggest challenge as an event organizer in the government space?" We received a wide variety of answers, but the response that came up most often was converting registrants to attendees.

This conversion challenge is not unique to the government market but may be exacerbated by the fact that so many events are free for government attendees. On average, free events see a conversion rate of 40% to 50% of registrants actually attending. Continue reading

Trends and Tactics for the Government Customer Experience

The recently released President's Management Agenda (PMA) is focused on the issue of declining trust in government. In the report, this lack of trust is tied to the poor customer service citizens receive from government. In the age of Amazon, Uber, and social media reliance, the level of service people expect from companies has dramatically changed. Citizens expect to be able to contact organizations on their terms (via mobile, online chat, email, phone) and that when they connect with someone, they will have all relevant data at their fingertips. While that has been a reality in the commercial sector, it's a fairly new concept for government.

In 2014 President Obama made citizen service a cross agency priority. Since that time agencies have made large strides in improving how they interact with the citizens they serve. In fact, according to the 2017 ACSI Federal Government Report, citizen satisfaction with government service is at its highest levels since 2006. But there is still much work to be done. Continue reading

Opening Up Government Through Technology

There's a huge buzz and movement about opening up government. There are three phrases that are used frequently in relation to openness in government but each mean something a bit different.

  1. Open Government - This is a core tenant of our democracy, the belief that citizens have the right to access the documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight. While this has always been a practice of government (via the Freedom of Information Act), with the move to digital records the way people want to receive and the way the government can share information has changed dramatically.
  2. Open Data - This is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone. Much of the information the government holds should be open data, but giving people the access they require has been a stumbling block to open government.
  3. Open Source - This is the technical piece of the "open" puzzle. Open Source is software for which the code is made freely available and may be used and changed. Open Source solutions allow people to not only get at the data but also work with that data in new ways.

Continue reading