Revisiting DC: A Look at New Event Venues

Location, location, location. It's a mantra for real estate, but it also has a place in the event planning world. While people attend events for the content, the location also holds sway in decision-making process.

Sometimes it's a matter of commute/travel time to get to the location. Other times it's proximity to public transport or ease of parking. Maybe it's simply that a venue is new and people welcome any excuse to check it out.

For event planners, changing locations can provide a fresh perspective on the event content and how it runs. This is especially valuable for long-running events with a built-in audience. Holding the event in a different location forces organizers to rethink how breakouts are organized and what other activities could be woven into the traditional agenda.

We did some digging and found several venues in the DC region that are worth looking at for events in 2020.

  • Hilton Washington DC National Mall - A new location for Hilton, this hotel opened in the spring just in time to host the cherry blossom crowds. Its central location in L'Enfant Plaza makes it an easy option for local attendees to get to and provides great access to downtown tourist destinations for out of town visitors. The hotel features two ballrooms as well as multiple small meeting spaces among its 23,000 square feet of event space.
  • Conrad Washington, DC - Also a Hilton property, this upscale hotel opened in the spring and features 32,000 square feet of meeting space on the second and third floors. This allows for natural light to be a part of the event experience. The Conrad also has rooftop event space.
  • Moxy Washington, DC Downtown - Keeping with the 'bringing the outdoors in' theme, the new Moxy hotel on K Street features garage-style doors that bring the outdoors into the lobby. Located in an updated historic building, the hotel provides private space for small (30 person) meetings as well as many semi-private gathering areas.
  • The Atrium @ Bobby Van's Steakhouse - The well-known steakhouse recently undertook a renovation of the 12-story atrium area of their restaurant, creating space for private events (220 seated, 330 standing). The facility also renovated six boardrooms that accommodate from 24 to 65 guests each or hold as many as 150 guests when combined.
  • Topgolf National Harbor - A different option among the facilities at National Harbor, Top Golf opened this summer. It features several private event space options that can be combined with golf and food packages to add recreation and fun to any event.

Let us know what new spaces you've checked out and where you're looking forward to going!

Department Spotlight: The Department of Energy

The mission of the Department of Energy (DOE) is "to ensure America's security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions." Technology plays a huge role in both the research surrounding and protection of energy resources.

The DOE may lead the government in their use of supercomputer technology. In fact, supercomputering is one of the key focus areas in the agency's budget. This spring the DOE issued a contract that will allow them to build the world's most powerful computer with a performance greater than 1.5 exaflops. Supercomputers, like the one being built, provide researchers with the needed speed and scale to conduct scientific modeling and simulations as well as utilize AI and analytics for activities as diverse as manufacturing and public health.

Of course, the security of the data running through these supercomputers, as well as the national power grid itself is of paramount focus for the DOE. To support these growing needs, the DOE is looking to blockchain as a way to secure energy delivery and more.

We've pulled together a list of upcoming events that will help the DOE, as well as the companies that serve it, better understand the technologies that can ensure our energy supply remains secure and efficient.

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An Agile Modernization

As government agencies look to respond to modernization calls from the executive branch as well as citizens at large, agile and DevOps practices are being employed to help speed time to "market" with new applications. A report issued in early 2019 found that sixty-nine percent of respondents said that their organizations are piloting agile, if not partially or fully adopting it. But, the same report also saw a significant percentage of respondents say that agile met their expectations "less than expected" and "much less than expected." So, if agile is seeing an uptick in use, why is it not meeting expectations?

The issue may lie heavily in training and understanding. Agile is not just a new process; it's a new mindset. It requires a new organizational structure that is a departure from the traditional command and control hierarchy of government. Agile teams are relatively flat with everyone holding interconnected and equally important roles. There's not only a logistical change that needs to happen in terms of org charts and structures, but also a cultural shift to a collaboration-driven rather than command-driven environment.

To begin really seeing the benefits of adaptability, speed, and cost efficiencies agile promises, people need to be trained not only on the process but on the softer skills of communication and collaboration that power the process. We've pulled together a collection of upcoming events that may help. Continue reading

Small Area, Small Problems? Not the Case with State and Local Governments

The operating challenges around budgets, resources, and legacy technology we see at the Federal level are amplified at the state and local level. Just because these groups are responsible for a smaller population does not mean their problems are smaller. On the contrary, historically low staffing levels and a geographically-limited pool of talent feed into the core challenges that all government teams face.

Security - Securing systems and the data that lives on those networks is now seen as a focus beyond IT. Everyone plays a role in cybersecurity, and there is a real need to update systems and processes as well as educate users.

Innovation - Since teams are so busy with day-to-day operations, stepping back to foster innovation can be difficult.  Many are finding ways to make the transformation work. In fact, some of the most innovative public sector programs are happening on the local level.

Managing change - Communication is key in implementing change within small, tight-knit teams. Participation in decision making ensures that new solutions meet the needs of the workforce as well as the citizens.

Finding time for training - All of the challenges above feed into an inability to make time for training and education to keep up with the rapidly evolving technology field. Continue reading

Getting on the (Block) Chain Gang

We've been watching the use of blockchain growing in the government space as agencies look for ways to more efficiently and securely share their data. A Congressional Resolution was introduced to tout the promise of blockchain saying that, "blockchain has incredible potential that must be nurtured through support for research and development and a thoughtful and innovation-friendly regulatory approach." Following this encouragement from congress, it seems like each day there is a new application of the technology being tried and evaluated.

We've gathered a couple applications that we found interesting to help illustrate what blockchain is and what it can do.

  • Supply Chain - The Navy is looking to use blockchain to track aviation parts throughout their lifecycles, helping them better manage their supply chain. Similarly, the FDA is looking at how blockchain can better track the chain of custody of prescription drugs. In a related application, blockchain is also being considered as a solution for better tracking digital evidence in criminal cases.
  • Managing Public Records - State and local organizations are using blockchain to digitally distribute records, including marriage certificates, property titles, and business registrations.
  • Voting - Blockchain is being tested as a way to make it easier for service members and overseas citizens to vote. Last fall, 144 West Virginia voters living abroad were able to vote through their mobile phones via an app. Identities were confirmed by scanning a valid U.S. ID along with a selfie. Once the identity was confirmed, voters made their selections based on the ballot they would have used at their local precinct. Voters were then given a unique ID or hash that, once the vote was cast, allowed them to write on to the blockchain. Each submission was encrypted to the blockchain ledger, which gave election clerks the ability to conduct post-election audits.
  • Public Health - Blockchain can also speed the delivery of information as it relates to public health crises. The Food and Drug Administration is looking at how to use blockchain to share health care data securely and effectively in real time when epidemics like the swine flu threaten the health of the nation.

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