Innovation @ BBG » Mobile World Congress http://www.innovation-series.com Fri, 20 Nov 2015 18:47:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6.1 Radio Sawa & VOA News Apps honored by GSMA Global Mobile Awards http://www.innovation-series.com/2015/03/27/radio-sawa-voa-news-apps-honored-by-gsma-global-mobile-awards/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=radio-sawa-voa-news-apps-honored-by-gsma-global-mobile-awards http://www.innovation-series.com/2015/03/27/radio-sawa-voa-news-apps-honored-by-gsma-global-mobile-awards/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:44:36 +0000 Will Sullivan http://www.innovation-series.com/?p=6412

Two of ODDI’s flagship mobile products launched in the past year were selected as finalists for the prestigious GSMA Global Mobile Awards: the VOA News relaunch was selected for “Best Mobile Media & Publishing App” and Radio Sawa was selected for “Best Music App.”

The GSMA is the largest global mobile industry group and they operate Mobile World Congress,  Mobile World Congress, the largest mobile event in the world with more than 93,000 attendees from 200 countries.

VOA News serves users in more than 200 countries and is available for Android and Apple IOS mobile and tablet devices in 44 languages and for Symbian mobile phones in 4 languages. The industry-leading application has also been recognized as a finalist in the Appy Awards for “Best Multicultural App” and in the Mobile Ecosystem Forum’s Meffy Awards for “Best Mobile Service.”

“It is amazing that ODDI has created apps for over 87 language services on different operating systems,” said Bo Kostro from the ODDI Mobile Team, “We could not have done it without the support of all the BBG language services”

Radio Sawa is a youth-oriented mobile streaming app for Android and Apple IOS devices offering more than a half dozen music streams, podcasts, news and user-generated chat feedback through an beautifully designed application.

“We are very proud of the Radio Sawa app and were honored to have been recognized by the Global Mobile awards,” stated MBN President Brian Conniff. “The app encourages user participation through the network’s popular Sawa Chat feature, as well as making Radio Sawa available to cities and countries where there are no Radio Sawa transmitters.”

 

 

 

 

 

]]>
http://www.innovation-series.com/2015/03/27/radio-sawa-voa-news-apps-honored-by-gsma-global-mobile-awards/feed/ 0
It’s a Mobile World: How Public Diplomacy at State Department is Adapting http://www.innovation-series.com/2014/02/11/its-a-mobile-world-how-public-diplomacy-at-state-department-is-adapting/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=its-a-mobile-world-how-public-diplomacy-at-state-department-is-adapting http://www.innovation-series.com/2014/02/11/its-a-mobile-world-how-public-diplomacy-at-state-department-is-adapting/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 18:24:50 +0000 Erica Malouf http://www.innovation-series.com/?p=5861 During a recent visit to IIP’s OIE, we talked of Agile at ODDI, GitHub, PAOs, andDID I LOSE YOU YET?

When I moved to DC from the West Coast, I initially found the government agencies in the area to be a massive tangle of alienating acronyms. But in all fairness, it’s no different from every other industry or niche.

Boy, was there a jargon learning curve where I started my career in the mobile entertainment division of 20th Century Fox. Let’s flip the track to the year 2007 when mobile websites were “WAPs,” only Blackberry-toting suits had data plans, I had a flip phone, and “widget” was a new term that made me sound savvy in meetings. My brain is thankful that digital advertising acronyms and concepts, like CPM, CPC and PPC, have stuck around.

Remember Verizon’s VCAST? There’s a relic from mobile’s early days. Cutting clips for VCAST from shows like Family Guy and The Simpsons, and managing SMS voting for American Idol, was how my office justified its existence. But the buzz was around creating original content for digital platforms (nope, Netflix didn’t invent it), called “mobisides” and “webisodes.” And this all before contracts included royalties for mobile syndication (well, the lawyers and unions were starting to squawk). It sounds exciting, but my day-to-day was rather un-glamorous.

So last week, when Hilary Brandt mentioned GSMA’s Mobile World Congress, and asked whether I’d heard of it, I smiled (wryly, with a note of nostalgia) while recalling my time at the bottom of the Hollywood totem pole, which included planning other people’s travel to said conference.

Hilary-Smaller

Hilary Brandt is the director of the Office of Innovative Engagement at State Department

You might be saying: ’Wait a minute, why do people from the State Department — a federal agency focused on public diplomacy – care about Mobile World Congress (the CES of the global mobile industry)?’

I shall tell you! Using as little jargon as possible.

The State Department, more accurately called the Department of State, is a large organization with an ambitious mission: to “shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere.” As a part of this mission, the agency is tasked with explaining U.S. foreign policy to the world.

Because increasingly its international audience is primarily accessing digital content on mobile phones – especially people in developing countries, who often have very limited access to the Internet at all – it behooves them to think carefully about mobile.

“Throughout the world mobile phone ownership has exploded. And while many use mobile phones only for voice calls – itself a huge revolution for previously isolated rural populations in particular – mobile is increasingly the gateway to the Web,” said David Endsor, Director of BBG’s Voice of America, during a recent speech about the role of journalism in public diplomacy.

During our conversation, Hilary offered up some insight, gathered while at Mobile World Congress last year, on the changing relationship between social media and mobile carriers that further explains why the State Department pays attention to such trends.

“Facebook has been really good at adapting to low-bandwidth, mobile situations in that sort of race to get new users,” she says. Hilary notes that in emerging markets like Africa, Facebook is the Internet for many people, and this new role of social media is forcing mobile carriers to rethink their approach.

“So you have what was previously an “unholy alliance” between Silicon Valley and the mobile carriers that is changing because they need each other now, especially in emerging markets. It’s no longer just Silicon Valley companies taking up mobile data and not paying anything into the [mobile industry], which was the previous tension. Now, if a company like Nokia wants people to buy their handsets, they’re going to need to offer Facebook on that dumb phone. This is exciting and interesting for our embassies, for the tools that they’ll be able to use to communicate with as the industry grows.”

Any innovation in technology that changes how people communicate and access information will have important implications for how the State Department can reach the public. And focusing on digital makes sense for all of their current audiences, both in the beltway and abroad, as more people everywhere are accessing information from mobile devices. The Office of Innovative Engagement (OIE), directed by Hilary, is helping the agency understand and adapt to this always evolving digital world. OIE is in the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), headed by Macon Phillips. Phillips, the new Coordinator for IIP, is heading the charge for a digital first approach. Macon recently spoke on BBG’s tech panel about his vision for the bureau.

HilarySXSWpanel2013

Hilary, far right, on a 2013 SXSW panel about “digital diplomacy”

Hilary has only been in IIP a year, and Macon five months, and already things are happening. For example, Hilary’s team at OIE is currently piloting the enterprise-level use of the social media management tool Hootsuite with 240 people from six DC bureaus, as well as all the U.S. embassies and consulates in the western hemisphere region. At the bureau level, another current project involves working on new ideas for digital outreach around an exchange program called YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative), which is an initiative of the White House. And you can catch Hilary at an upcoming SXSW conference where she’ll be a panelist.

Large government agencies are probably not the first place anyone would look for leadership in social media management, but I’ve found that the State Department is fairly advanced when compared to many international companies. Hilary’s office is a resource for social media expertise within the department, offering guidance and education, while organizational units throughout the department work within their authority to conduct social media outreach, and the office of the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy provides leadership on governance issues. OIE also backstops the agency with a social media help desk.

There is a clear understanding in the department that being able to use new tools effectively is a necessary part of public diplomacy these days. Hilary’s office holds a monthly meeting called Tech Society about “cool, new digital tools” that provides internal thought leadership on what is coming next in the tech industry and how it can be used to better engage current and future audiences. The department wants to be ready to reach the next billion people to access the Internet.
tech society NOVEMBER

OIE also regularly hosts brown bags with tech companies and other leaders to discuss innovation as it relates to public diplomacy. For example, OIE hosted a meeting with Microsoft to discuss the company’s move to utilize “white spaces” (unused broadband spectrum) in Africa to provide Internet to communities that lack access.

If technology companies have the right incentives, it may not be long before everyone on the planet has affordable, reliable Internet access and a smart phone. It’s really a question of when that will happen, and how much the technology will have changed by the time it does.

Think about how rapidly mobile phones have evolved since the mid-2000s. I can barely remember the ones I had in between owning a Razr dumb phone and a Droid Razr smart phone, and I’m about to make another trade. The one thing that’s stayed constant is the buzz about mobile being the future – or more accurately, the present and the future.

Maybe next year I’ll be booking my own trip to Barcelona to cover Mobile World Congress…or maybe I’ll be covering it via one of those new-fangled drones.

]]>
http://www.innovation-series.com/2014/02/11/its-a-mobile-world-how-public-diplomacy-at-state-department-is-adapting/feed/ 2
VOA mobile app named finalist for “Best Mobile Publishing Product” in GSMA awards http://www.innovation-series.com/2014/02/06/voa-mobile-tablet-app-named-a-finalist-for-best-mobile-publishing-product-in-gsma-awards/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=voa-mobile-tablet-app-named-a-finalist-for-best-mobile-publishing-product-in-gsma-awards http://www.innovation-series.com/2014/02/06/voa-mobile-tablet-app-named-a-finalist-for-best-mobile-publishing-product-in-gsma-awards/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 17:59:00 +0000 Will Sullivan http://www.innovation-series.com/?p=5828 VOA’s mobile apps launched this year, and we’re pleased to announce that the Voice of America mobile and tablet apps for Android, Apple IOS and Symbian have been named as finalists for the “Best Mobile Publishing Product or Service” in the GSM Association (GSMA) 2014 Global Mobile Awards!

Here’s the rest of our press release about the exciting news:

The BBG’s Office of Digital and Design Innovation, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America partnered to create a mobile app that provides news and information for people in more than 100 countries, in 43 languages on the world’s two largest smartphone and tablet platforms.

“It’s a huge honor for to be recognized by the GSMA for the immense amount of hard work and innovation that went into this application,” said Will Sullivan, Director of Mobile at the BBG. “It took more than a year of blood, sweat and translations for the indomitable ODDI Mobile team of Borana Kostro, Danish Ahmed and Son Tran, working with Kim Conger and the RFE/RL Pangea Content Management System team along with VOA language service experts to make this happen. It’s truly an amazing cross-organization product that we are proud to share with under-served audiences around the world.”

The Voice of America app is available on Android and Apple iOS which account for more than 90% of worldwide smartphone and tablet shipments. The app lets audiences get push notifications of breaking news, stream radio podcasts on demand, as well as download content for offline viewing. Individuals can easily consume and share content in languages ranging from Afan Oromo to Vietnamese. The VOA News app has been ranked in the top news apps in the Google Play and Apple App stores in most of Africa, Asia and the Eastern Europe, with rating of four stars and above from users.voa app settings

“VOA receives millions of visits from mobile and tablet devices around the world. By offering a best-in-class experience for users of iOS and Droid, we can extend the reach of our journalism into new markets,” said VOA Director of Digital Strategy Matthew Baise. “This nomination is testament to the fine work of our colleagues across U.S. international media.”

ODDI collaborated with RFE/RL and software developer EEA to significantly expand the BBG’s mobile offerings. RFE/RL pioneered this work, building out the framework and CMS upon which the mobile offerings are built. ODDI continues to work with them to add features and upgrade the user experience.

“As collaborators on the design and development of VOA’s mobile app, we congratulate our great partners for such distinguished recognition of this shared achievement,” said Kim Conger, RFE/RL Design Director / Deputy Director, Internet Technology and Strategy.

The GSMA’s 2014 Global Mobile Awards will be presented as part of the Mobile World Congress program on February 25, 2014 in Barcelona.

The GSMA is the largest mobile trade association in the world, representing the interests of mobile operators around the globe. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 mobile operators with 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem. The Mobile World Congress is an industry-leading event, drawing more than 70,000 attendees in 2013.

]]>
http://www.innovation-series.com/2014/02/06/voa-mobile-tablet-app-named-a-finalist-for-best-mobile-publishing-product-in-gsma-awards/feed/ 0