Innovation @ BBG » Event http://www.innovation-series.com Fri, 20 Nov 2015 18:47:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6.1 ODDI rockstar Scrum Master shares his Agile expertise at GSA DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit http://www.innovation-series.com/2015/05/18/oddi-rockstar-scrum-master-shares-his-agile-expertise-at-gsa-digitalgov-citizen-services-summit/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=oddi-rockstar-scrum-master-shares-his-agile-expertise-at-gsa-digitalgov-citizen-services-summit http://www.innovation-series.com/2015/05/18/oddi-rockstar-scrum-master-shares-his-agile-expertise-at-gsa-digitalgov-citizen-services-summit/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 12:45:25 +0000 Will Sullivan http://www.innovation-series.com/?p=6489 I’m proud to announce that our own ODDI Scrum Master extraordinaire, Ashok Ramachandran, has been asked to share his expertise at the upcoming and sold-out GSA DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit. Government leaders of all levels — from federal to local municipalities — will be attending to learn more about topics ranging from 3d Printing to Human-Centered Design. Ashok is speaking on May 21 at 12:30 p.m. about “Agile Methods in Opening Government” with Bill Brantley from the Department of Agriculture.

AshokAshok has been in our office for just under two years and has made an exponential impact on the products and services we offer — especially on the mobile team, where he’s helped us manage multiple teams on-shore and off-shore, launching more than a dozen award-winning products from low-tech to high-tech in more than 60 languages, often with multiple products rolling out at the same time. At the same time, he’s also miraculously worked as Scrum Master for multiple other teams with dozens of developers, designers and stakeholders helping ship live products for the BBG marketing team including a new CRM system, BBGDirect.com and digital publishing technology tools working with a few other small federal agencies (The State Department and Department of Defense).

“Ashok is one of the best scrum masters we’ve ever worked with, he has kept the Mobile Team focused and executing on multiple projects at the same time.” Bo Kostro, ODDI Mobile Release Manager said, “He works hard on meeting the deadlines and removing blockers.”

Ashok has been key in the execution of our fleet of mobile products and the team’s #AlwaysBeShipping attitude and culture;  we’re proud to have him making a larger impact sharing his expertise with other government agencies.

The Citizen Services Summit is sold out for in-person attendance, but the there’s still remote attendee seats available here.

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ODDI Mobile team selected to present at Government Mobility Application Fair http://www.innovation-series.com/2015/05/06/oddi-mobile-team-selected-to-present-at-government-mobility-application-fair/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=oddi-mobile-team-selected-to-present-at-government-mobility-application-fair http://www.innovation-series.com/2015/05/06/oddi-mobile-team-selected-to-present-at-government-mobility-application-fair/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 17:46:56 +0000 Will Sullivan http://www.innovation-series.com/?p=6470 The ODDI Mobile team has been selected as one of 10 government agencies to showcase their work at the 2015 ACT-IAC Mobility Application Fair in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 27th at the Renaissance Downtown.

Mobile Release Manager Bo Kostro shows off the VOA AppMobile Release Manager, Bo Kostro, and Director of Mobile, Will Sullivan, will be showcasing the team’s work along side more than 40 exhibitors and 25 federal agencies to demo their products and digital work. There will also be an event keynote delivered by Greg Godbout of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The official announcement details more of the mission of the ACT-IAC group:

Federal agencies are continuing to embrace the use of not just mobile devices, but wearable technology for mission execution. With the increased use of all things “mobile” in the government, there has been a surge in the development and use of mobile applications in order to enhance operations. The American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council is pleased to announce that its Advanced Mobility Working Group (AMWG) will be hosting the 2nd Annual Mobile Application Fair on Wednesday, May 27 at the Renaissance Washington in Washington DC.

Learn more about the award-winning mobile products from the ODDI Mobile team at: http://apps.bbg.gov

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VOA Indonesia trip: BBG Direct and Affiliates http://www.innovation-series.com/2014/11/05/voa-indonesia-trip-bbg-direct-and-affiliates/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=voa-indonesia-trip-bbg-direct-and-affiliates http://www.innovation-series.com/2014/11/05/voa-indonesia-trip-bbg-direct-and-affiliates/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 16:00:14 +0000 Xi Rotmil http://www.innovation-series.com/?p=6324

During the conference in Indonesia, VOA’s booth placing participants in front of a poster of the Capitol to give a 60 second broadcast was very popular.

Recently, the amount of news & information programming from the BBG broadcast entities listened to or watched through our global affiliates exceeded the amount distributed directly to our audience for the first time. A recent trip to Indonesia highlights the diversity among BBG affiliates, including Suara Surabaya Media, Dreamers Network, Baranews and KPK.

Indonesia is a collection of 922 permanently inhabited islands spread over three time zones. The needs of Indonesian affiliates are as diverse as the islands themselves.  For instance, in the competitive, dense media environment of Java, affiliates are looking to enhance their existing content with interesting short audio and video specialty pieces. In less populated islands, media entities are interested in large chunks of content, even entire shows.

In May, Steve Fuchs, our UX Studio Manager, traveled to Indonesia to show affiliates the new BBG Direct content distribution website.  While in Indonesia, Fuchs attended the 20th Annual Conference of Independent Journalists.

About 40 organizations participated in the conference. Other networks were also there. Many them were our affiliates. There were workshops on content creation, movie making, and citizen journalism. The crowd was young and enthusiastic.

A breakout session on environmental studies taught with comics: kids made their own green themed comic stories with typing paper and number 2 pencils.

A snapshot of affiliates who aim to engage, inform, and inspire.

Dreamers Network, one of our affiliates,  does a great job of engaging its audience.  In three years, Dreamers Network founder Daniel Hartono has built a streaming only radio website focused on giving young people what they want, when they want it. The station is ranked number one in Korean-pop in Indonesia with Dreamers’ coverage of k-pop even being picked up by Yahoo.

Dreamers also has a very active social network. The office sits above its own branded cafe and listeners are invited to come and eat. Listeners also get to network with each other via radio (cos-play, zombie groups etc). Dreamers also has a glass studio facing the street so people nearby can see when guests do a broadcast. The station now has a dating site which allows members of the listening audience to see each other and chat online. Dreamers will also add there own job search where listeners will be allowed space to demo their skills. For instance, a barista can do a quick video of themselves making a cup of java, or an artist can show their work. Dreamers has allotted space for bloggers to do fan fiction and this has been picked up by a publishing firm and made into print books.

Dreamers uses VOA for breaking news (Korean Ferry, Chinese claims to the Spratly Islands, and missing Malaysian plane were popular topics) but also looks for entertainment, music and film content.

Suara Surabaya Media focuses on meeting their audience’s needs and being the most relevant station in the region. Listeners send the station pictures of fires, traffic accidents, and other local events. Suara then posts these pictures, along with advice on how to detour, or best cope with the conditions. They also makes sure the proper authorities are called. Suara has an FM radio station and runs the website suarasurabaya.net.  Suara Surabaya uses VOA content on business, entrepreneurs, green sites and urban farms. Inspirational news and features on Indonesians in America are also very popular.

As an anti-corruption group, KPK  is very interested in providing VOA news on corruption, economics, and environment to its audience. On the day Fuchs was visiting, the office was surrounded (peacefully) with protesters and local police. Besides exposing corruption, KPK is most interested in VOA providing inspiring content such as “positive role model coverage” of life in other countries.

Baranews  has  also launched a website promoting reform issues. Like KPK, Bara was interested in progressive political news, economics, technology and environmental reports and positive stories from around the world.

Bara will soon launch a live streaming TV app for smart phones in Indonesia, Singapore and Beijing. This is an on-demand and live streaming TV app with integrated social media components where people can chat and share while watching. Users will also be able to record and play later, as well as create their own channels.

Republika.co.id is the online version of the popular Muslim daily newspaper. They are an old line media firm (in 1992, they had a linotype machine in their lobby) with a large campus in the city. They have a strong interest in a mobile-first small bites approach to reaching new audiences and say they are most interested in reports on economics, science, technology, and the United States.

BBG Direct works to meet the needs of today’s affiliate.

BBG Direct is specially designed to reach the broadcast affiliates and digital partners of the BBG. You can download content, find satellite information, schedules and much more. Our suite of digital services includes free, fast, and reliable live streaming, a hosted, branded digital player optimized for mobile, and online support.

Overall the new BBG Direct site was well received in Indonesia. Despite regional and other differences, all affiliates said they hope VOA will continue to supply them with materials that can be used to engage, inform and inspire their audience.

 

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BBG Tech Panel with Netflix CEO Explores Digital Evolution of Media & Government http://www.innovation-series.com/2014/01/07/bbg-tech-panel-features-netflix-ceo-explores-digital-evolution-of-media-government/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bbg-tech-panel-features-netflix-ceo-explores-digital-evolution-of-media-government http://www.innovation-series.com/2014/01/07/bbg-tech-panel-features-netflix-ceo-explores-digital-evolution-of-media-government/#comments Tue, 07 Jan 2014 21:52:43 +0000 Erica Malouf http://www.innovation-series.com/?p=5509 After a special BBG board meeting in late December, our own Rob Bole, Director of Innovation at BBG, moderated an impressive panel of media and technology experts included Reed Hastings, CEO and co-founder of Netflix, Tom Cochran, CTO at Atlantic Media, and Macon Phillips, Coordinator of the Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP).

This discussion with leaders from all sectors was part of the board’s efforts to help our broadcast-focused agency navigate the evolving media landscape and inspire new strategies to grow audience engagement. (Read BBG’s press release.)

Reed Hastings kicked off the discussion with a telling tale from a recent trip abroad. While vacationing in Costa Rica, he realized his DSL internet connection was surprisingly fast for being in a remote place. So he took a hike down a dirt road to follow the DSL line into the jungle where found a DSLAM converting the DSL line into fiber optic cables (which are much faster across longer distances). It turns out that Costa Rica is prioritizing laying fiber optic above paving roads. It sounds ironic, like a friend who has the latest smart phone but whose shoes have holes. Yet it makes sense in the context of global markets—Costa Rica needs cutting edge digital infrastructure in order to compete.

“When you look at the rate of smart phone adoption, it’s pretty easy to see that Internet connectivity via phone devices is going to be almost ubiquitous,” said Hastings. We at BBG’s Office of Digital & Design Innovation (ODDI) are acutely aware of this, and that’s why we’re so focused on creating digital tools and solutions for our journalists. But the challenge is whether journalists will use them. And that’s where a cultural shift is needed. We can already see that it’s underway at BBG as more journalists use social media and incorporate digital into their newsroom strategy. During the panel, Reed Hastings and Tom Cochran, CTO of Atlantic Media, addressed the difficulties of cultural change in a big organization and offered some words of advice for our leadership.

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, speaks about leading an organization through change.

Tom Cochran, CTO of Atlantic Media and Reed Hastings of Netflix chat about technology, leadership and driving change.


Of course, appealing to Atlantic Media’s customers is on Tom’s mind because he’s at a for-profit business. But do the same ideas apply to government? Like any other organization, government has “customers,” but instead we call them constituents, citizens or voters. ODDI has “customers”–our journalists at the various BBG entities and language services. And we also share another customer with our journalists–the end user who is consuming the news. But there are many distinctions about how government and business operate. The panelists touched on some of the major challenges, specifically for media companies and government digital departments.

Cochran and Phillips talk about challenges in attracting and retaining tech talent.


On the external communications front, government must take a different approach than private companies. The contrast is stark when it comes to social media and employee policy, as the panelists discuss.


The recent trend of hyper-targeted content, or personalization, affects government as much as media organizations–and there are positives and negatives to this trend.

The panelists discuss new technology and content personalization.

Tom Cochran and Macon Phillips speak on future of content dissemination in the private and public sectors.


While government has different constraints within which it operates, Macon points out that this doesn’t mean agencies have an excuse not to measure. And there are similar ways that government can approach measurement.

Reed Hastings and Macon Phillips talk measurement and audience engagement in the private versus public sector.


The most interesting moment of the panel discussion for me was when Macon made the case for government use of digital advertising to better reach more narrow audiences. Because at the end of the day, as any social media “guru” will tell you, it’s not about hitting the highest numbers, it’s about reaching the right audience with the right message (…to activate that audience so they can help you achieve your mission). And to take it one step further, it’s not just whether there was engagement, it’s about how your audience engaged with your brand. And so sentiment is another important metric, but one that’s often trickier to measure.

As an aside, BBG has dabbled in digital advertising to some success. For example, Voice of America (VOA) Chinese has used Google Ads in China to promote their content, but the Chinese government has since blocked such online advertisements.

Macon makes the case for a hyper-targeted messaging approach with digital advertising.

And, defying popular belief that government is trend and technology averse, it turns out that Phish has inspired White House communications strategy. There are certainly lessons to be gleaned from social-savvy bands.

Phish inspires White House strategy!


It was a thought-provoking panel and a timely discussion for the BBG as we prepare to navigate new waters in the coming year.

Rob panel crop,

Rob Bole moderated the panel (this serious photo captures his stern disapproval of the panelists for wearing flower-inspired, spring-colored ties in the dead of winter).

One big change for ODDI is Rob Bole’s new role as Director of Global Strategy for BBG, announced in late December. We’ll miss having Rob as our fearless director at ODDI, but we’re excited to see him lead the charge for innovation on a larger scale at BBG.

Next up: a little less conversation, a little more action. Follow us on Twitter (@BBGinnovate)–I’ll be posting more inspired clips from the panel and updates about ODDI.

Contributors to this post: Brian Williamson (@drawinghands): video editing, Anastasia Kolobrodova: photos

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Rating Our First Relay Event http://www.innovation-series.com/2013/12/24/rating-our-first-relay-event/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rating-our-first-relay-event http://www.innovation-series.com/2013/12/24/rating-our-first-relay-event/#comments Tue, 24 Dec 2013 21:07:09 +0000 Randy Abramson http://www.innovation-series.com/?p=5437 Relay is a real-time, live-blogging platform that allows journalists to easily report breaking news and developing stories from their mobile devices (note: it was formerly called Beacon). Relay is still in beta, but its user-friendly interface and sleek design has already caught the eye of HuffPoPBS MediaShift, MediaBistro and Poynter. Here we’ll take a look at our first pilot event, conducted with the Voice of America Urdu team, and grade the results.

In late September, 2013, we outlined the guiding principles behind the development of Relay. After three months of design and development time, we were excited to take Relay out for a test run! Our supremely talented VOA Urdu digital team (Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and several Indian states) stepped forward for the first pilot project to cover the death of Nelson Mandela from inside Pakistan.

Relay Mourning Mandela pilot

This photo of Pakistanis mourning for Nelson Mandela was used in our first Relay pilot with the VOA Urdu team. The card that is being viewed is highlighted in white on the bottom timeline, and the icons on each card signify the type of media–photo, video, quote, producer note, poll, Twitter highlights, and so forth.

Publishing Workflow: B+

We successfully published video, text and photo reports, as well as LiveStream video reports and Google Hangouts–all from mobile devices. In this regard, the publishing workflow functioned as planned and was successful in allowing our journalists inside of Pakistan to ‘shoot, send and go.’ They could create their content quickly on mobile devices, email it to the Relay platform and continue with their reporting.

As smooth as the publishing workflow went, we did hit a couple of snags:

  • Title character limit was too low: 100 characters for English titles suffices most of the time, but Urdu titles tend to be longer. We’ll have to adjust the character limit for future Relay pilots.
  • Photo size limit was too small: We had a 2 MB photo limit size for incoming images. One photo that hit the system was larger, so we’ll need to increase this limit as well.

One of the most interesting learning experiences of the pilot came through the Google Hangout that we had with the Urdu team in Pakistan. The Hangout began as a video Hangout, but despite our reporters being hardwired to the Internet via ethernet, bandwidth fluctuated. We were very happy to see that the Hangout technology did not allow the presentation to stall — instead, the Hangout simply downgraded the experience to audio only. It was clear from this example that there were benefits to relying on best-in-class 3rd party broadcast tools like Hangouts when working with varying connection quality.

Customer Facing Front End and Responsiveness: B+

The user was able to swipe between cards on mobile devices and click through timeline items as planned. However, we did run into a couple of presentation bugs:

  • Video loses image: We noticed that if a user plays a video and did not click pause before moving to another card, the video did not display an image when they user came back to the original card. This is a high priority fix for the next release.
  • We found another bug where text runs over the timeline interface, but only on desktop display.
  • Interface adapted correctly on Apple and Android mobile devices, although Window phones were seeing the tablet layout.

Language: B+

  • Urdu language was presented as planned, although a couple of cards reverted to left to right alignment. This is a ‘must fix’ for our next Urdu pilot
  • One card needed to be edited due to character count limits. We spent a bit of time trying to grab all the right to left aligned copy from GMail.

relay-mandela-death-pakistan

Another photo of Pakistanis mourning for Nelson Mandela from the Relay pilot with the VOA Urdu team (photo from Reuters).

User Engagement: B+

Having users alerted about updates to the stories that they care about was a key function that we wanted to be part of Relay from the start. For this first release, we programmed in the ability for users to subscribe to updates via Email alerts. The functionality worked flawlessly in our Urdu pilot, but we would like to build in the ability to subscribe for updates through SMS alerts. Be on the lookout for that functionality soon! Also, we incorporated Disqus comments into Relay so that users can leave feedback about individual pieces of content.

Timeliness: A+

All in all, we were able to publish an entire Relay presentation including a live audio interview using the Google Hangout platform with and an in-studio video stand-up in under an hour. We couldn’t have been happier with the way the Urdu team demonstrated the amount of content that could be produced in real time while using tools they already had in their back pockets.

We shot a quick stand-up with Imran Siddiqui in the VOA studio and emailed it to the Relay platform for publishing, all within a couple of minutes


Next Steps

We are looking forward to working with VOA Music on broadcasting their Roots and Branches program using LiveStream and adding extra behind-the-scenes footage on the Relay Platform. We also have a 3 week test with our VOA Spanish group in mid-January. Equally as exciting is a request from the Davanac Journalism Lab in Belgium to use the Relay platform in an upcoming Master Class in February. We’re hoping to learn from these upcoming pilots and iterate on the platform to make it even better for future internal and external users of Relay.

Want more info about Relay? Contact Randy Abramson, Director of Audio/Video products at BBG.

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National Day of Civic Hacking at the White House http://www.innovation-series.com/2013/06/10/national-day-of-civic-hacking-at-the-white-house/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=national-day-of-civic-hacking-at-the-white-house http://www.innovation-series.com/2013/06/10/national-day-of-civic-hacking-at-the-white-house/#comments Mon, 10 Jun 2013 15:07:33 +0000 Lisa Backer http://www.innovation-series.com/?p=3391 June 1 was the National Day of Civic Hacking.  Over 11,000 civic activists, technology experts, and entrepreneurs in 83 cities developed software to help others in their own neighborhoods and across the country.  The White House hosted more than 30 developers and designers to work with the We The People data API – the API that powers the We The People petitions website.  Attendees had submitted ideas and portfolios to be considered back in April and I was one of those selected to participate.

The day began with welcome notes from our hosts, the White House Office of Digital Strategy.  Representatives from NASA lamented that this day would already beat their record for the largest Hackathon held only a few weeks prior.  From there, each participant gave a brief introduction of who they are, the skill sets that they bring, and the any project ideas that they had.  The room included talent from local and federal government agencies, private industry, and even representatives of technology giants such as Facebook and Google.  Many had travelled across the country just to take part in the event.

I formed a team with Bryan Braun, a contractor with the White House Office of Digital Strategy, and Ben Damman, an entrepreneur from Minnesota to work on Petitions NewsLink.  Our goal was to display aggregate data about popularity of petitions over time by issue and allow the user to dig deeper by viewing related news from a point in time that is related to the most popular petitions within the selected issue.  Our hypothesis was that many petitions were formed in response to major news events.  One of most obvious examples would be a spike in submitted petitions in the “Firearms” issue category after the tragic shootings in Newtown, CT.

In order to put this puzzle together, our team decided to utilize:

  • Highcharts JS library for data visualization
  • We The Entities API to perform textual and sentiment analysis on petition text.  This API was actually created just in advance of the Hackathon by a fellow participant and was under development throughout the day.
  • New York Times Article Search API in order to search articles by keyword in particular sections

We also quickly learned that we needed a caching layer in order to perform aggregate look-ups on the data.  Ben took the role of creating this layer,  Bryan took the user interface role, and I took the role of communicating with the We The Entities and New York Times APIs.  By this time everyone had settled into teams and set down to work and the room was quiet.

My first thought had been to also utilize the New York Times Tags API in order to correlate We  The People issue categories with New York Times tags that could then be used to limit new results to only those most relevant.  After spending a good deal of time working through their API, however, I began to realize that the data set that was returned limited by tag became to limited when faced searching on a short window of dates.  With that work tossed aside, I began to focus more on a workable demo by our 4:30 demo time.  We agreed that our goal for the first demo was to have a broad resultset and not necessarily spend our time refining the searches further – that work could be saved for the next phase.  As our demo time approached we worked feverishly to finish up.

The demos showed us a broad set of projects that had been created given a small, but powerful, We The People API.  It included two WordPress plugins for embedding petitions, a data visualization that showed party affiliation of signers, mapping visualizations, and type ahead tools to enhance searching and filtering of the data set.  Of particular interests to journalists was a tool created to import data directly into Google spreadsheets to allow non-technical users to analyze and chart data within a familiar toolset.  The full API gallery is available online.  Most projects include links to demos and/or source code.

Although the day is over, the work continues.  I have continued to refine the news API integration and have rewritten it to a lighter-weight JavaScript implementation.  The original Petitions NewsLink team is still communicating via GitHub to improve the project.  I would like to see the integration of other news sources and the refining of the date algorithms used for searching.  My interest has also been sparked to use available APIs to find out not just what caused petitions, but if petitions do spark action in congress.  A future project will likely be to use the Sunlight Foundation’s Capitol Words API to search for key terms from the petitions to see if they have been used within the Congressional record.

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Demo Day http://www.innovation-series.com/2013/01/31/demo-day/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=demo-day http://www.innovation-series.com/2013/01/31/demo-day/#comments Thu, 31 Jan 2013 21:25:47 +0000 April Deibert http://www.innovation-series.com/?p=2485 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.

 Apps-ODDI-Demo-Day
[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.”

 

 Juicy-ODDI-Demo-Day
[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.”

 

 Mali-ODDI-Demo-Day
[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.”

 

 OVAP-ODDI-Demo-Day
[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-2-ODDI-Demo-Day
[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.”

 

 ArabicTranslation-ODDI-DemoDay
[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.

sg-ATH
[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.”

 

 Stalin60-ODDI-Demo-Day
[Brian Williamson demonstrating Stalin at 60]

Stalin at 60

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

sg-Stalin60

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.

 

 SoundCloud-ODDI-Demo-Day
[Addie Nascimento discussing SoundCloud]

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.

 

- – - – -

(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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Wikimania 2012! July 12-15 http://www.innovation-series.com/2012/06/27/wikimania-2012-july-12-15/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=wikimania-2012-july-12-15 http://www.innovation-series.com/2012/06/27/wikimania-2012-july-12-15/#comments Wed, 27 Jun 2012 11:32:30 +0000 April Deibert http://www.innovation-series.com/?p=1402 Wikimania-2012

Wikimania will be hosting its 8th annual Wikimedia Conference.  This year it will be hosted in Washington, D.C. at George Washington University from July 12–15, 2012.

BBG is proud to be a partner/collaborator for this event.  BBG representatives and leaders will also be at the opening reception to honor the World Digital Library at the Library of Congress on July 11.

As the Wikimania 2012 official website states: Meet the wiki community in Washington.

  • Join us for a gathering of experts, enthusiasts, and those who are just curious, in a center of academia, culture, and technology.
  • Engage at the official annual conference of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
  • Relish a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

For more information, visit the conference’s official webpage here.

To see the conference schedule, click here.

To register, click here.  Registration is open through July 4 and prices are very affordable (ranging from $35-$95).

To volunteer, click here.  Positions include registration desk, concierge, session moderators, tours and group dinners, tech & A/V, translation, website & graphic design, organizational & general help (before and during the event).

Click here to RSVP and connect with other conference participants on Facebook.

Click here to follow @Wikimania2012 on Twitter.  Use the Twitter hashtags #Wikimania and #Wikimania2012 to participate in and follow conversations about the event.

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Pitch Fest Semi-Finalists Announced in June http://www.innovation-series.com/2012/05/21/pitch-fest-semi-finalist-announced-in-june/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pitch-fest-semi-finalist-announced-in-june http://www.innovation-series.com/2012/05/21/pitch-fest-semi-finalist-announced-in-june/#comments Mon, 21 May 2012 14:05:11 +0000 April Deibert http://www.innovation-series.com/?p=1152 Thanks again to all those who submitted ideas for our first annual Pitch Fest!  We will announce semi-finalists after June 16th - a bit later than we’d hoped but the judges have already met and have started narrowing an impressive field with scores of excellent entries.  We will work with our broadcast executives to announce the finalists in July.

 

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