November 28, 2012 By Steve Ressler
Every year, the pandemonium begins now around Oprah’s favorite things.
I’m no Oprah, but I thought I would take the time to reflect on my favorite government things from 2012.
There’s no TV launch party, so let’s just jump into my list:
1. Tablets as Input Devices. I love the idea of using tablets as a way for government employees in the field to collect information. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ran a pilot using tablets to make inspection reporting easier and quicker. Instead of employees manually taking notes and inputting them once they get back into the office, they can pretty much complete the report by the time they leave the inspection site.
2. Clipperz. Do you always forget your passwords? Do you feel uncomfortable sharing passwords across your team (but waste time when you don’t)? This year, I’ve moved to using Clipperz to manage my personal and team passwords — all you need to remember is one password and then it has direct logins.
3. Government-Focused TED Talks. I love TED Talks, and I was so excited this year that there were three government-focused TED talks from Clay Shirky (author), Beth Noveck (former White House deputy CTO), and Jennifer Pahlka (Code for America). The more attention paid to solving government problems, the better.
4 . Responsive Design. Government information should fit every screen — mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop. That’s why it’s great to see the push toward responsive design where content automatically adjusts to the screen — MorrisHumanServices.org and RI.gov both did great responsive redesigns.
5. Civic Accelerator. I’m excited about the Code for America Accelerator program for civic startups, especially its focus on sustainability. While hackathons are great, we need more individuals focused on building great innovative companies for government services such as accelerator companies like MindMixer and Measured Voice. This is a start.
6. BYOD. Bring your own device became a huge trend in 2012. At the most basic level, I love the push to make sure our enterprise technology can match what we have at home. And, if it’s not, let’s just bring it in and secure it.
7. Unique Mobile Services. My favorite mobile projects in 2012 are not just bringing Web content to mobile, but also delivering unique services that people only can do with mobile devices. I love Textizen where you text in survey responses while in public areas and the Chicago Transit Authority’s Bus Tracker that uses texts to get estimated arrival times for buses.
8. Census. I’m a sucker for census data, so it was great to see the U.S. Census Bureau launch a mobile app that provides updated economic indicators. The bureau also launched an awesome application programming interface that brings this data, which has been widely used by academics for decades, into the hands of developers.
9. HootSuite. Social media studies found that the best time to post on Facebook is between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., yet most government employees aren’t working then. But there’s a solution — I love using HootSuite to manage my social media accounts and automate my posting times.
10. Rethinking Forms. We still spend too much time with hard-copy forms, signing and sending scanned PDFs. That’s why I’m a fan of the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows MyGov project that tackled online form submissions as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s e-NEPA, an online system for users to electronically submit environmental impact statements versus hard copies.
Unfortunately, there’s no studio audience so I can’t give all of you my favorite things like Oprah. But I encourage you to check out my favorite things and share yours on Govtech.com.
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