In the Event of an Emergency: Ensuring Government is Disaster-Ready

With a rash of recent natural disasters, weird weather patterns, and a few months of Hurricane season to go, we wanted to look at disaster recovery practices - beyond the basics. We all know it is critical to have backups for your backups, but sometimes that's not even enough.

Last year, when the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, they lost a lot of government data. Although they had backups of their data stored in different locations, all of these locations were on the island. In Puerto Rico, first responders were trying to make a map of shelter locations, hospitals and flood zones. They started with a spreadsheet containing information on 450 shelters and had to correlate that information with other datasets. Once the data was merged, they found they only had complete data for 88 of the 450 shelters. Only half of those 88 shelters could be mapped using Google, leaving the team with an incomplete picture and a lot of manual work to identify and publicize shelter locations. Continue reading

Hybrid Technology: It’s Not Just for Cars, It’s in the Cloud

As cloud gains momentum as a platform for government IT, the one-size-fits-all solution is becoming obsolete. Government organizations require unique solutions to suit their specific needs, which is why understanding the cloud platform options is the first step to making the change to the cloud. Initially, there were public clouds hosted completely off government sites by a third party (like Google or Amazon Web Services). Then came private clouds, infrastructure and networks designed as a cloud but only available to a closed loop of individuals. Private clouds are hosted on-premise by the government entity they were built for. Now, there is a third type of cloud implementation that is proving to be the most popular and most attractive to government agencies - the hybrid cloud.

Hybrid infrastructures mean that some elements are hosted in a cloud (either public or private) while others are managed on-premise. There is a connection that allows all systems to work seamlessly. This set-up alleviates security concerns and helps organizations maintain tight control over critical applications.

Additionally, a hybrid environment helps avoid vendor lock-in. As agencies found with hardware, becoming an all "one vendor" shop has drawbacks. While going with a single IT vendor can have initial cost savings and economies of scale, in the long run, agencies grew frustrated when that one vendor could not innovate quick enough or provide the support they needed. Agencies are wary of falling into the same trap with cloud providers and look to spread out their applications across several platforms. This allows them to pick the cloud infrastructure that works best for that particular IT solution. There are hybrid cloud management tools that "abstract away many of the common features offered by different cloud providers" making it easier to manage multiple clouds. Continue reading

Did We Get it Right? 2017 Government Events Year in Review

It's the beginning of 2018, and with it brings reflection on goals and actions of the past year. Today we take a look back at our predictions for government events in 2017 to see how we did.[Tweet "Did We Get it Right? 2017 Government Events Year in Review. #GovEventsBlog"]

  • Focus on Change - Going into 2017, we knew that we were no longer looking at business as usual with the new administration coming in. While we could not have predicted the numerous changes and events of the past year, we did know that everyone involved in government was going to need a refresher in change management. We predicted a larger number of events focused on the formal practice of change management as well as change being a theme in a number of events. This year we had 22 events specifically focused on change management versus 14 in 2016, so there was a slight uptick.
  • Changes in Speaker Line-Ups - In anticipation of agency directors being replaced, we expected to see some new faces in the speaking line-ups for government events. We also thought some of the newly appointed agency heads would be speaking, leading to a fresh crop of speakers across the government event landscape. While this prediction did not necessarily come to pass, we did notice that more events were using big name speakers to draw attendees and to differentiate their shows. We saw speakers associated with interesting, high profile cases and news events. We also saw more government events using leaders from the commercial side of business to share the latest details on technologies and best practices that can be applied in government.[Tweet "GovEvents takes a look back at our predictions for government events in 2017. #GovEventsBlog"]
  • Increased Use of Data - Working with our event partners, we are seeing this trend come to fruition. Organizations are interested in feedback from us on their GovEvents' campaigns. Specifically, they want to know where leads are coming from (email vs. ads), and want to track those leads once they get to their site. They are using this information to better tailor their marketing and outreach to grow their audience.
  • More Video - The ubiquity of video on social media is making video a must-have as part of event promotion and marketing. In our recent survey we found that 31% of respondents have added streaming video to their events in the last two years. It's a trend that we're excited to see continue and evolve, as it livens up the content presented at events.

[Tweet "In a year of change, the event market for government has been a steadying force. #GovEventsBlog"]In a year of so much change and uncertainty, the event market for government has been a steadying force. Attendance at and availability of events has remained stable, proving that events provide a place for colleagues to come together and have meaningful discussions about challenges, successes, and concerns. Now more than ever, these venues are proving their worth in bringing the government community together to discuss the issues that impact their mission.

Innovation at Work in Government

Reading through the Federal IT media and even mainstream media we are seeing two words in close proximity fairly frequently - government and innovation. These two words once thought to be polar opposites are now enjoying a new relationship. On the whole, government agencies are being encouraged to step away from the, "this is how we've always done it" mentality and looking for ways to deliver government to the people in a more modern and efficient way. Much of this encouragement is in the form of mandates as well as out of necessity with aging legacy infrastructures.

So how is this innovation happening? First, there are organizations designed to help agencies make the shift from traditional government thinking to a more forward-leaning, private sector model of technology development and change management.[Tweet "How is innovation happening in #Government? #GovEventsBlog #Innovation"] Continue reading

Going Big

When it comes to booking big name speakers, Strata +Hadoop World scored what was probably the biggest win of the 2015 conference year. President Obama appeared via video to talk about the critical role open data should play in innovating government service to citizens. The President also introduced DJ Patel, the new data scientist for the federal government. This appearance underlies that data is big (not just Big Data).

New positions are being created throughout government focused solely on data. The new Federal Chief Data Scientist and Chief Data Officer roles are being created in agencies across the government. The addition of data to c-suite roles shows that data is serious business.[Tweet "The addition of data to c-suite roles shows that data is serious business. #GovEventsBlog"]

According to the President and Patel, data science is a team sport - meaning that working together is key to utilizing all of the data that the government has opened to industry and the public.[Tweet "Data science is a team sport...Working together is key #GovEventsBlog"] We are being challenged by the administration to find ways to apply this data to everyday life. How can organizations and event professionals incorporate this call for collaboration into our everyday efforts? Perhaps we can look at adding a session or even just a talking point to all of our events or gatherings where attendees can brainstorm on what data exists that could be used to meet a challenge being faced within that community. This ad hoc collaboration around data could provide a unique experience for attendees and perhaps result in the next big (data) thing.