Demo Day


DEMO DAY?  …Demolition Day?  Nope.  Demonstration Day!

Project Manager Rebecca Lundregan is in charge of organizing “Demo Days” in the ODDI office to show each other, BBG entity customers and stakeholders (if applicable) the work they have accomplished on projects.  The first one this year was held mid-January.  Below are some photos courtesy of IT Specialist Borana Kostro and screen grabs courtesy of the project leads, a brief description of each project, and comments from some of those who attended the Demo Day meeting.

[Will Sullivan, in the blue shirt by the window, discussing Umbrella Apps and Mobile Web]

Umbrella Apps & Mobile Web

Umbrella Apps Description: Mobile and tablet applications for Apple, Android and some Symbian devices.

Will Sullivan, Mobile Product Lead, says: “We now have release candidates for the Android and IOS versions of our mobile and tablet apps for Alhurra and Marti Noticias. This week we’re starting quality assurance testing and training with the services on how to administer the apps from the core CMS. After we finish testing and make sure everything is working well, we’ll submit to the markets and have public apps available on Android, iPhone and iPad mobile and tablet devices.”

Mobile Web Description: M-dot mobile optimized websites for the entities.

Will Sullivan, Mobile Product Lead, says: “The beta sites for the mobile web transition is lining up for the next release of Pangea, in mid-February. The transition should be relatively seem-less and the control to administer all content through Pangea will be a huge time saver and offer the ability to develop more customized features and control in the future for all entities.”


[Adam Smith (left) and Steve Fuchs (right) demonstrating the Juicy App]

Juicy App

Description: Innovation is not only exploring the future, it is also rethinking the present with new tools.

Steve Fuchs, Manager of ODDI’s Design Studio says: “ODDI’s redesign and retooling of VOA’s venerable pronunciation guide will launch early this year. The primary aim of the redesign is to make the pronunciation guide more friendly and universal by making the design responsive, so that a single design is accessible via phone, tablet, or desktop. A secondary goal is to update the back end of the site: Ajax is now used to streamline code, the site has moved to a cloud based host, and Google analytics code has been added.  A third phase will involve adding increase functionality to complete the Pronunciation Guides evolution into a full-fledged and multi featured phone app.”


[Doug Zabransky (center) demonstrating Mali1]

 Mali1 IVR

Description: Community-based news reporting using IVR technology.

Doug Zabransky, Manager of Technical Services, says: “We use Interactive voice response (IVR) systems everyday.  Call any customer service line and you will be presented a menu of automated options either voice activated or through your keypad.  For us this is a great way to distribute and gather the news using a local call.  Someone will call a local cell number.  A menu will ask to either listen or leave a message.  In order to listen, press 1.  To leave a message, press 2.  Option 1 will allow VOA listeners to hear the latest 3 minute VOA Mali newscast.  Option 2 will allow VOA listeners to report their own 3 minute newscast.  Messages for VOA will be automatically sent to YouTube for curation by a VOA journalist.  This IVR solution uses the following technologies:  GSM SIM card, GSM Modem, laptop or desktop running windows, Voxeo software to communicate with the modem and IVR Junction to handle recorded messages and send to YouTube.”


[Adam Martin demonstrating OVAP]

OVAP – Kaltura Integration

Description: Through the integration of the Kaltura open source video platform with the Pangea CMS, we will be able to provide a shared platform service that allows all US international media entities to share a common set of digital audio and video platform services.

[OVAP - Kaltura Management Console]

Adam Martin, Manager of Technology, says: “We focused so much on the core functionality of the Kaltura system for our initial launch at the end of December that we really wanted to add a few new features and work-flow improvements with this release. The team did a great job balancing the need to address some critical bug fixes with bringing that new functionality to our users and delivering an improved user-experience.”


[Adam Martin (hand on mouse) and Rob Bole (standing) demonstrating the Arabic Translation Hub]

Arabic Translation Hub

Description: Leveraging machine and ad-hoc human translators to increase the speed and lower the cost of translation.

[Translation Hub Management Console]

Rob Bole, Director of Innovation, says: “We are experimenting with Google Translate, along with on-call professional human translators to see if we can improve the process of translation in a news environment.  Working with outside contractor, General Dynamics Information Technology, we have focused on a base case of turning Arabic tweets into English.  From this simple start, we are now in the process of broadening the functionality in the tool, including translation of related text, multi-column views and multiple administration levels.  Our goal is to have a working product by March.”


[Brian Williamson demonstrating Stalin at 60]

Stalin at 60

Description: Stalin at 60 is a multimedia story illustrated with new html 5 tools.


Steve Fuchs, Manager of Design, says: “A major area of concentration for the User Experience team in 2013 will be new story telling tools for journalists. The team will be exploring, testing, and doing pilot projects for many of news entities. Stalin at 60 is an example [of this].”

Brian Williamson, User Experience Designer, says: “We’re partnering with the different entities to help produce more interactive and visually engaging stories online. We want to understand their  newsrooms’ needs, identify possible tools (or help create new ones) and establish best practices. For our first project, we’re working with RFE/RL on the 60th anniversary of Joseph Stalin’s death. We’re going to create a visually rich story that looks back on his legacy throughout the region.


[Addie Nascimento discussing SoundCloud]


Description: SoundCloud is a tool that makes it easy to share audio content on Facebook.

Addie Nascimento, Sydication Product Lead, says: “In a world where there is so much focus on video, SoundCloud gives us the opportunity to revitalize our experience of audio. Our plan is to connect our Podcast feeds to the individual BBG SoundCloud accounts to get our audio content to our audience in a fresh and engaging way. We will then take this a step further and send this content to Facebook for programs and language services that will benefit. The goal of this project will be to increase user engagement with our audio programming and, as always, to build our audience.”



What do you think?  Please feel free to leave comments below or tweet us @BBGinnovate.


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(Thank you to the entire ODDI team for all of their contributions to this post.)

(The foregoing commentary does not constitute endorsement by the US Government, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA, MBN, OCB, RFA, or RFE/RL of the information products or services discussed.)

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April Deibert

April Deibert

April Deibert is the Multimedia Blogger/Producer for the Office of Digital & Design Innovation. Follow her on Twitter: @BBGinnovate and @AprilDeibert.

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