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.
The Census Bureau's mission is "to serve as the nation's leading provider of quality data about its people and economy." 2020 is a decennial census year where the government is required by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution to collect data on the population of the country. This data is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and inform the distribution of billions in federal funds to local communities. The 2020 questionnaires will begin arriving to homes mid-March. All households receiving a questionnaire are required to fill it out and return it. Those that have not responded will be visited by census takers beginning in May.
The first census took place in 1790, one year after George Washington took office. For this initial census, marshals visited every house and collected data. The process took months and the end results were questioned for accuracy and completeness. Since then, the process by which census data is collected continues to evolve.
In 1890, a punch card system was used for the census. This automation was developed specifically to meet the growing amount of data that needed to be processed. The company that developed this technology went on to become IBM. Moving ahead 130 years, this year's census marks the first time people will be able to submit their responses online.
The ninth Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) Scorecard, released in December, showed promising progress in meeting goals and in holding agencies accountable for their modernization efforts. For the first time, three different agencies earned an "A" or higher. The General Services Administration and Department of Education both received an "A+" and The United States Agency for International Development got an "A." This scorecard was the only time a failing grade was not handed out. Overall, agencies have upped their scores from a "D" average on the first scorecard in 2015 to a current "C+" average.
Scores are not the only thing that has increased. What is being measured has also grown. The first scorecard only measured four areas -- data center consolidation, IT portfolio review savings, incremental development, and risk assessment transparency. The latest version has nine subcategories that include measuring progress against recently enacted legislation.
Big gains in scores were found in regard to compliance with the Megabyte Act, legislation that aims to improve the way agencies manage their software licenses. Gains were also found in giving CIOs more authority. In fact, the reporting found that 22 agencies had permanent CIOs, two had acting CIOs and, of those, 16 reported directly to leadership.
Progress on data center consolidation also continues, though not without controversy. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) voiced concern with the Office of Management and Budget's latest guidance on data center consolidation that changes the language to "optimization" and not "consolidation." He argued that consolidation is what frees up capital and drives cost savings, an area where agencies still struggle. Continue reading
The delays and confusion over the Iowa Caucus results has once again brought election security into the national spotlight. Voting has increasingly moved to electronic means following the 2000 elections that put the fate of the election in the "hanging chads" of Florida. Electronic voting machines seek to remove human-error in the actual voting process as well as vote tallying. However, many voting precincts are using technology that is 10-20 years old, introducing problems around maintaining and securing the systems for today's use.
One surprising conclusion around election security is the critical role of a paper trail. Having a paper back-up to electronic voting proved to be important in Iowa and is making counties nationwide re-examine the role of paper in modern elections with the end goal of accuracy being more important than speed.
To modernize voting procedures, systems, and products, Congress has earmarked over $700 million to replace paperless voting machines with more secure digital options that offer a paper trail. While voting is handled at the state and local level, more support from the federal level comes with a new policy that ensures the FBI brief state election officials when local election infrastructure has been compromised. However, many argue this does not go far enough and that the FBI should loop in election officials if they discover breaches of private sector companies involved in providing election technology and support. Continue reading
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.