Introducing Drones into the Government Toolkit

DroneFrom military missions to public safety applications to infrastructure inspections, drones have many applications across government. While the technology is ready for all of these applications (and more), there are complex regulatory and legal issues that are holding up their widespread use. These issues include airspace regulations (for the safety of manned and unmanned flights), privacy concerns (related to on-board cameras), and cybersecurity concerns.

While these issues are being discussed in the courts and across regulatory bodies, state and federal level agencies are taking steps to integrate drone usage into their processes. For federal agencies, drones are available on the GSA Schedule. State and local organizations are piloting a drone-as-a-service model that allows groups to use drones for specific-use cases without having to invest in the purchase and maintenance of the hardware.

There are a number of upcoming events that address both the technology and the policies that impact current and future drone usage. Continue reading

In the Age of Social Distancing, Government Meetings Go Virtual

From time to time GovEvents will come across information we feel our members and audience would benefit from. Here's something we wanted to share:

State and local governments are holding virtual meetings to slow the spread of Covid-19 and trying to find ways to continue public participation.

City council members in Worcester, Massachusetts on Tuesday gathered for their regular weekly meeting, with one new rule in place: No members of the public would be allowed to attend and if residents wished to make comments, they'd need to do so by calling into a teleconference line.

"It worked OK. It wasn't perfect," said Eric Batista, director of the city's Office of Urban Innovation on Wednesday. "We're debriefing today to kind of talk through about how it went. We're doing everything we can to make sure it's cleaner for the residents, and to make sure they always have an opportunity to engage and comment and be part of the process."

The move, a precautionary measure to help limit the spread of Covid-19, is permitted under an executive order issued last week by Gov. Charlie Baker that suspends a requirement in the state's open meetings law that governmental bodies meet physically in a public space. When possible, officials are required to provide "alternate means" of public access, such as teleconferencing or live-streaming. If that's not possible, boards must post a full transcript, video or recording of meetings online "as soon as practicable upon conclusion of the proceedings." Continue reading

When the Show Simply Cannot Go On

The Coronavirus has made many organizations take a hard look at how and if they should proceed with events in the coming months. Decisions made in response to this virus should be informed by security and contingency best practices and should serve to inform planners in the future.

Best practices include:

  • Hygiene - Have antibacterial sanitizers available throughout your event venue. Ensure that bathrooms are stocked with anti-bacterial soap. Confirm with caterers how they stock buffets to reduce the risk of people grabbing for food with hands instead of utensils.
  • Have a Plan B - Consider how you can take the show virtual if needed. Look into virtual event and webcast technologies in advance of an issue arising to provide an alternate option should an event have to be canceled or postponed.
  • Review Contracts - Look carefully at cancellation clauses so you understand what falls into each vendor's (including insurance provider's) definition of "force majeure." This ensures that you fully understand the reimbursement policies when making cancellation decisions.
  • Plug into the Community - Tune in to what is happening in the city/community where you are holding the event. It's critical to know what is going on in the community so you can plan accordingly. For example, if there has there been a rash of recent protests or a spike in crime, you may want to increase security at your venue. In the case of a public health issue, you'll know what is actually happening on the ground in terms of infections and general reactions so you can inform attendees and plan accordingly.

We've been in touch with many of our partners and have pulled together this list of events that have been canceled, postponed or rescheduled due to health concerns.

We'd love to hear from you. How have precautions around the Coronavirus impacted your event planning? Share your stories in the comments. For more government events worldwide, visit GovEvents.

Have You Checked in on Your Meeting Planner Friends Lately?

From time to time GovEvents will come across information we feel our members and audience would benefit from. Here's something we wanted to share:

 

Many people wonder why meeting planners are consistently rated in the top 5 most stressful jobs lists. It can definitely be argued that first responders, doctors, military personnel, nurses, etc. all have more difficult jobs, and as a planner myself, I wouldn't disagree with you. It is a stressful job for sure, but we are very aware that we are not in the business of saving lives. While planners are not likely to be putting out literal fires, they certainly have their own fires to put out throughout the entire planning process and onsite. Planners are meticulous and focused on the details. As the primary point of contact for countless vendors, they must be prepared to handle or delegate any situation that arises. The event may be a once-in-a-lifetime program or a primary revenue source for the organization, adding to the pressure to make everything perfect. It takes a great deal of organization, multi-tasking, time management, budget oversight, staff wrangling, vendor connections, and communication to pull off an event. All these tasks often occurring within a 30-minute period.

Consider for a moment the following scenario -

You are three weeks out from your annual conference. You've spent a year working on every detail. Selecting design elements to perfectly complement the event location, coordinating the faculty and the agenda, and overall event aesthetic. You've negotiated and established relationships with countless vendors and contractors. Made at least 3 trips to the venue to ensure the layout and flow would be perfect for your event to make the experience easy on attendees and keep them wanting to come back next year for more. Sure, the normal stressors pop up along the way - the venue notifies you that they double booked one of your primary breakout conference spaces, so you'll have to move to a different room. Never mind that your signs and program have already been designed, so you'll have to make changes on those items. This is all par for the course and what makes planning exciting. Being ready for the unexpected, creative and critical thinking when the inevitable problems occur. We power through and come out triumphant.

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