Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Public Sector Coverage

  1. Your Coding Crash Course: Esri to Host First Developer Summit at Federal GIS Conference
  2. Tailor-Made: How GIS is Powering Innovation for Global Aid
  3. Clarity from Complexity: GIS Delivers for Transportation Leaders
  4. An Untold Story: How GIS is Transforming Federal Health Programs
  5. Putting the Where in Social Analytics: How Location Analytics and Social Media is Transforming Government
  6. Safe and Secure: How GIS Has Revolutionized Our National Security Efforts
  7. Protecting and Preserving Our Natural Resources With GIS
  8. Have You Seen the Top 5 Esri Story Maps?
  9. It’s Finally Here: The Citizen Engagement Tool Congress Has Been Waiting For
  10. How GIS and Maps Improve Public Discourse
  11. The Power of Storytelling and Map Making
  12. The Transformative Power of GIS – Your GIS Cheat Sheet
  13. 5 Ways to Build Your GIS Business Case
  14. 3 Ways GIS is Powering Civic Engagement Initiatives
  15. GovLoop Guide – The Mapping Revolution: Incorporating Geographic Information Systems in Government
  16. Celebrating 50 Years of Zip Codes through Story Maps
  17. Your GIS Research Hub: 10 GovLoop Resources
  18. California Supreme Court Rules GIS Files Should Be Publicly Accessible
  19. Gamification and GIS Case Study – Esri UC
  20. 3 Lessons Learned on Location Analytics and GIS
  21. Esri User Conference – Wednesday Wrap Up
  22. How GIS Can Help Child Placement for Foster Care
  23. GIS in the Trenches – Local Government Case Studies
  24. How GIS Can Be Used for Humanitarian Aid – Case Study from Direct Relief
  25. TED Founder Richard Saul Wurman’s Latest Project: The Urban Observatory
  26. Esri Plenary In Review: 7 Emerging Themes for GIS Professionals
  27. Jack Dangermond Opening Statements – GIS: Transforming Our World
  28. Esri UC – Plenary Session Agenda
  29. Understanding the Potential of Big Data and GIS
  30. Interactive Infographic: Exploring the Power of GIS for Facilities Management
  31. 3 Ways to Make Compelling Maps
  32. GovLoop & Esri Meet Up In Review: Story Maps
  33. How GIS Can Help Organizations Manage Facilities
  34. 5 Benefits of Leveraging ECM and GIS Technology
  35. How Citizen Engagement Can Be Improved Through Mobile GIS
  36. How Big Data and Location Analytics are Impacting GIS for Government
  37. Exploring How GIS Can Be Used to Manage Facilities and Plan Campuses
  38. 3 Benefits of Location Analytics for the Public Sector
  39. ArcGIS as a Platform: An Interview with Esri President – Jack Dangermond
  40. How GIS Shaped the Public Sector in 2012
  41. Survey Provides Insights to Future of GIS Technology for Government – Mobile, Cloud, Awareness
  42. Taking the Deep Dive – Exploring Our Oceans with GIS
  43. What is Your Greatest GIS Challenge?
  44. Identifying the Promise of GIS for Government: Emergency Management
  45. New GovLoop Report: Identifying the Promise of GIS for Government
  46. GIS – Not Just for Programmers or Tech Savvy
  47. Announcing: GovLoop State of Government Communications Report
  48. Using GIS During an Emergency
  49. Top 10 Benefits of GIS Technology
  50. ESRI Federal User Conference Recap: Plenary Session

In Review: President Obama’s Cybersecurity Executive Order

President Obama’s long awaited executive order on cyber security was released earlier this month. Along with the Executive Order, Improving Critical Infrastructure: Cybersecurity, the administration also released a companion policy directive for federal agencies. Although both documents are a step in the right direction for security efforts, legislative action by Congress remains essential to combat increasing instances of cyber attacks. For more GovLoop cyber security resources, please visit ourcyber security knowledge cycle page.

Recently I spoke with Jeffrey Greene, Senior Policy Counsel, Symantec, reviewing President Obama’s Executive Order.  Greene states, “The importance of the Executive Order should not be overlooked, I think it is worth pausing and reflecting on the significance of the Executive Order and the time the President spent speaking about cybersecurity during the State of the Union.”

The Executive Order was a reminder that too often cybersecurity is described solely as identity theft or stolen credit card numbers. The executive order specifically focuses on critical infrastructure, which the executive order defines, “As used in this order, the term critical infrastructure means systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.”

Today, cybersecurity impacts our lives in a variety of ways. The critical infrastructure that is defined in the order includes broadband networks, power grids, financial data, hospitals, schools, and dozens of other services. With President Obama’s Executive Order, Obama has made it readily clear that cybersecurity is a vital part of our national and economic priorities. In a fact sheet provided by the White House, the administration provides seven focus areas:

  1. Defense Industrial Base Information Sharing Program Now Open to Other Sectors
  2. NIST to Lead Development of Cybersecurity Framework
  3. New information sharing programs to provide both classified and unclassified threat and attack information to U.S. companies.
  4. Development of a Cybersecurity Framework.
  5. Strong privacy and civil liberties protections based on the Fair Information Practice Principles.
  6. Voluntary program to promote the adoption of the Cybersecurity Framework.
  7. Review of existing cybersecurity regulation.

Although the Executive Order is comprehensive in nature, there are certain elements that the order lacks. This is not due to the administration neglecting key information; there are some remaining challenges for cyber professionals that will only be solved through legislative action. Greene observes, “The Executive Order lacked things that can’t be done through executive orders, most importantly from our perspective, some legal protections for sharing information. The Executive Order does a good job directing the federal government to share information with the private sector but doesn’t address sharing within the private sector – because it can’t.”

Clearly, after nearly a year since cybersecurity legislation failed in the Senate, it is time for Congress to act on it. The continuing challenge now is for Congress to pass legislation that mandates action that could not be provided within an Executive Order. The executive order has certainly opened the door for legislation on cybersecurity. Greene states, “There are a lot of different ways it [legislative action] can break, and the executive order definitely creates an opportunity. It’s a question of whether it actually leads to progress.”

Yet, legislative action is one of many challenges to cybersecurity. The United States has yet to see an attack on the scale of that causes any physical damage, and most people are still identifying cyber with identify theft, not related to critical infrastructure. Greene states, “The biggest hurdle is getting people to realize the significant threat to both economic and national security.”

The hope is that through this executive order, and increasing pressure on Congress to pass legislation, cyber will ultimately make its way into mainstream America- absent any large-scale attack. Cyber threats are only increasing, and now is the time for our legislators to act and work collaboratively to secure and set standards for critical infrastructure. Although threats will always exist, agencies must work diligently to stay a step ahead of sophisticated attacks and secure systems for America’s economic and national security.

What needs to happen to push Congressional action on cybersecurity? How secure are we from an attack on our critical infrastructure?

Creating A Modern Workplace Environment: The Unified Workspace

Originally Posted on GovLoop

In today’s digital landscape, leaders are looking to technology solutions to enable an increasingly mobile workforce and to create an environment that allows employees to work anywhere, anytime and on any device. Recently, I spoke with Michael Rau, Vice President and CTO, Borderless Network Architecture at Cisco. Michael Rau’s expert insights identifies that the unified workspace is a solution to meet the complex demands of the public sector workforce.

The unified workspace allows agencies to meet the complex demands of the workforce. As Michael Rau identifies, “There are fundamentally five big attributes to the unified workspace, it’s any device, any operating system, any expert, any location, any application. A unified workspace creates that environment.” In this report, Rau illustrates how a unified workspace creates a modern office environment. According to Rau, a unified workspace has become a strategic imperative for government to meet the complex demands of the public sector workforce.

As agencies are challenged to modernize and securely transform into a 21st century government, technology serves as a way to facilitate and expedite the required changes. Technology is redefining and transforming the modern workplace. Increasingly, IT departments are challenged to facilitate a secure and modern work environment that allows employees to work where, when, and how they desire. The unified workspace allows agencies to adopt a philosophy of “bring your own everything (BYOE).” Regardless if employees use personal laptops, tablets or smartphones, the BYOE approach allows employees to work on the device they desire at any location, any time.

Read the Report Here


The Superhero Character Arc and Your Career

Originally Posted on GovLoop

Character arcs are a basic principle in screenwriting. Writers often develop an arc to show the development and growth of a character. The idea of a character arc is to show how a character evolves as a plot unfolds. As the plot line develops, so does the character, as they learn, grown, evolve, which nicely pairs with the plot of the story. For those of us who love superheroes, there is always a clear arc to the superhero story. If we do a quick analysis of the superhero, we find four clear paths on the arc for the superhero:

  1. Resistance and Making a Choice
  2. Struggle to Control Powers
  3. The Introduction of the Villains
  4. Master of Powers

Yet, arcs are not just limited to superheroes, a similar arc could be applied to characters in books, plays, movies or on TV. Also, arcs are very common in music as well. In classical music, each movement typically has a style attached to it, the first movement is traditionally fast, followed by a slow movement, a dance-like movement and then back to a fast movement. Interestingly, there seems to be a natural order, or arc, to our careers and lives as well.

The character development and evolution of a superhero highlighted above also mimics our careers. As our careers progresses, the important element to focus on is continual evolution, constant growth, and continuing to hone and master our skills. Below I’ve elaborated on the four phases of a superhero, and how they relate to our careers.

1 – Resistance and Making a Choice
As we’ve all seen, some superheroes start off completely resistant to accepting their new powers. They refuse to accept they are different, that their powers exist, and may even feel ashamed of their newly discovered skills. They want to hide their talents and blend into society, just fly under the radar. At some point, typically through some horribly traumatic event, the super hero makes a choice, aligns towards good or evil, and accepts their superpowers.

Careers are quite similar. Personal events shape who we are, what career path we decide to take, and impact decisions we make throughout our career. Many of us feel a calling in our careers, work diligently to discover and work to understand our talents, and then leverage our newly discovered skills to better our community. Early in our careers, we search for some meaning, identifying what career path to take and how we can best use our skills to make a meaningful contribution to society.

2 – The Struggle to Control Powers
Once a superhero aligns towards doing good in the world, they struggle to hone and master their powers. I always love scenes when superheroes are learning how to control their powers. Their skills are  raw, and not quite at a point where they are very useful. For instance, if their power is time travel, they learn how to go forward in time, but can’t go back in time. If their power is to turn objects into gold, they accidently turn objects into rocks. But, through hard work and dedication, the super hero learns and masters their skills.

Think about our careers, when we enter the workforce, we are energetic and ready to roll and take on the world, but not all our skills are fully developed. Although the energy is there, the skill set may not be developed or polished yet, and takes some time and hard work to master the skills needed to excel. This process requires us to seek out and be proactive in learning about ourselves. This might mean finding a mentor, attending trainings, or pursuing higher education.

3 – The Introduction of the “Villains”
The Joker. Magneto. Darth Vader. Every superhero is fighting some kind evil, protecting their community and riding the world of evil. Our villains may not be as clear, but finding a cause that you are working towards, a higher calling is important. Your villain might be “poverty,” “equity,” “the tax code,” they are the villains you are fighting.

Just like superheroes, nearly everything we do is going to have challenges or villains. This is why it is so important to find a purpose, and when some days are bad, or you need to put in the extra hours to complete a project, you know that your work is contributing to a higher calling and purpose. These are the moments to remind yourself you are working to conquer your “villain.” Also, if your villain is Darth Vader, let me know because I want in. My midi-chlorians are off the charts.

4 – Master of Powers
This is where the magic starts to happen, you finally are routinely turning objects into gold, you’re traveling through time and space, not disrupting any equilibrium, just checking things out and having a great time. Villains may exist, but by and large, you’re on the winning side.

Although you’ve mastered your powers, you are still learning and evolving, and sharing wisdom with colleagues and peers. But, now is not the time to become complacent, now is the time to really start to make a dent in your villain – this phase is a great opportunity for you to witness and feel your positive impact on society.

These are just a few examples of how we can compare a character arc to our career. As we continue to grow and advance in our careers, whether you are a GS-7 or a GS-15, the lesson learned is to continue to evolve, continue to craft a skill, and continue to strive toward your higher calling.

What do you think? Are there any similarities to your career and the superhero character arc? Please share your thoughts below.


How to Avoid Hidden Costs of the Cloud

Originally Posted on GovLoop 

Agencies have been looking at cloud computing as a way to reduce waste, increase efficiency and cut cost. The benefits of the cloud are clear, as proper cloud adoption can assist agencies to increase software capacity, increase staffing capacity, improve collaboration and become more agile. For many, the cloud presents dozens of benefits to help agencies serve their most critical mission objectives. Yet, the cloud does come with a host of implementation and security challenges. Although the cloud certainly can deliver on benefits, agencies must be sure that technology is implemented properly to deliver on the promises of cloud technology.

In a recent report by Symantec, Avoiding the Hidden Costs of Cloud 2013 Survey, the findings show that in some cases, organizations have moved to the cloud too quickly, neglecting to take proper steps to implement cloud technology. If the impact of migrating to the cloud is not fully understood, agencies may face a host of new and complex challenges within the cloud – not fully benefitting what the cloud offers. Undoubtedly, the cloud will continue to be imperative to transform the way government operates, but like all emerging technologies, agencies cannot rush to adopt cloud technology. The report found five hidden costs of cloud adoption:

  • Rogue Cloud Implementations
  • Cloud Back Up and Recovery
  • Inefficient Cloud Storage
  • Compliance and eDiscovery
  • SSL Certificate Management

Two trends in particular that are important considerations for government are rogue cloud implementations and cloud back up and recovery.

Rogue Cloud Implementations

One of the interesting sections in the report identifies that rogue cloud deployments lead to increased costs and security risks, as sensitive data is being placed in the cloud absent management. An example would be sharing materials via an unauthorized Dropbox account. The report identified that for many, rogue cloud deployments were happening, and employees did not realize what they were doing was wrong.

Rogue cloud adoption indicates the need for IT departments to embrace emerging technologies. With tight restrictions to government information and data, IT departments cannot risk pushing people outside the walls of IT. This is true for cloud adoption, BYOD implementation, mobile apps and the various workplace productivity tools that are being implemented in government. Employees are looking to improve how they do their job, and are savvy enough to find tools without the formal assistance of IT departments. By embracing emerging technology, IT can provide the tools employees desire in a safe and secure workplace environment.

Cloud Back Up and Recovery

A second area of interest was cloud back up and recovery. For government, there is great importance in preserving and protecting data and information collected. The report states, “More than 40 percent have lost data in the cloud and have had to restore their information from backups (47 percent of enterprises and 37 percent of SMBs). Two-thirds of those organizations saw recovery operations fail.  Furthermore, recovering data from the cloud is slow. Just one-third [of those surveyed] rate cloud data recovery as fast. How slow? More than one-fifth estimates recovering from the cloud would take three days or longer.”

With the increasing amounts of volume, and the speed at which data is collected, any cloud adoption program must address data back up and security. This trend will only continue to grow in importance, as agencies move towards real-time analysis, complex algorithms and use predictive analytics to drive improved decision-making. The report concludes with some strategies to avoid hidden costs in cloud implementation:

  1. Focus policies on information and people, not technologies or platforms
  2. Educate, monitor and enforce policies
  3. Embrace tools that are platform agnostic
  4. Deduplicate data in the cloud

As the cloud continues to grow as an important way to improve the efficiency and productivity of government, agencies must understand the impacts of adopting the cloud in terms of culture and business process. Symantec’s lessons learned of policy, education, tool agnostic, and validating data is a great start to avoiding some common pitfalls of cloud adoption.

For the report, Symantec worked with ReRez Research to conduct a survey of business and IT executives in 3,246 organizations in 29 countries. The report also samples companies ranging from five to over 5,000 employees.

What is your greatest challenge with cloud computing? How can you avoid common pitfalls?


7 Ways To Improve Your Decision Making

Originally Posted on GovLoop

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about the big decisions I’ve made in my life. Some choices have changed the course of my career and my life. While others, which felt so grave at the moment, have ultimately turned into minor blips on my radar.

When you are deeply invested in the operations of an organization, the challenge becomes that you need be sensitive and realize implications across your team. If you are completely dismissive or unaware of the impact of your actions and decisions, you run the risk of de-motivating your team, and failing to meet organizational goals or objectives. With our decisions and actions, we want to move our organizations forward to collaboratively see our organization achieve our mission and reach our goals.

This philosophy is not new and nothing we haven’t heard before. Yet, it is a reminder that no matter how large or small the decision, clarity while making a decision is essential. This does not mean we make decisions in a robotic fashion, calculated or absent emotions. In fact, the calmness and clarity of a leader to make a decision shows the ability to manage their emotions, and rationalize each decision. It’s a skill that we all strive for, and are constantly learning how to manage our emotions, and make the right decision for our organization. When articulating a position and explaining a decision, it’s not just taking into consideration hard facts, it’s acknowledging and empathizing with the very human element of decision making.

So how do we improve our decision making? Here are a few strategies I have used, based on my experiences and from what I’ve learned from mentors and peers:

Use Data
Using data always helps make an informed decision, and some ways takes the emotion out of a decision. Data allows you to clearly process trends, explain arguments and have a sound discussion with team members.

Process Information
Take some time to think through information, process data, and get a full view of an issue. For everyone, they have a different process to get there. Take the time to learn your individual process to understand and distill information. This will only help you confront an issue with clarity, and to make stronger decisions.

Visualize the Impact
Take a moment to think about the outcomes of the decision, what could possibly happen if I say X, what if I say Y? How will my team react? What’s going to happen to our organization? What are the implications? Is this a philosophical shift? Ask yourself the tough questions to understand the issue in its entirety, and really work to understand what’s the impact of your decision.

Do not let conversation erupt into a debate
If you are making a difficult decision that is emotionally charged, the conversation can quickly launch into a debate. Although this one is largely outside your control, do your best to remain calm and clearly articulate your position. If the conversation starts to get heated, allowing people to express emotion is not necessarily bad, but work hard to get the conversation back to a point in which it is constructive for all parties involved.

Practice reflective listening
Reflective listening is such a critical skill to develop. The ability to keenly listen, process opposing information and articulate a position back is an essential skill. Learn how to listen, practice listening, and really get to the bottom of an issue.

Align towards common goals – make sure you have a shared vision
Without a shared vision, any decision is going to continue to dissolve into the wrong conversation. Make sure that you and your team are aligned towards a shared goal, the same outcomes, and are looking at the right way to get there as a team.

Engage Core Stakeholders
It’s so important that prior to any decision that a leader talk through options and listen to the concerns of stakeholders. Only through this process will decision makers truly understand the issue from a variety of perspectives, and can make a well-informed decision. Good leaders may already know the answer or the perspective an employee will articulate, but taking the time to invest and listen is essential, it’s one of the many ways to build trust, empower employees, and work towards building positive relationships with your team.

The process of how arrive to a decision has large implications for an organization. Decision makers have the opportunity to build trust, show leadership and drive organizations forward by investing in the time to make the proper decision, and empower the team along the way.
What are some tips you can share? How do we make better decisions to move our organizations forward? 

Related posts

10 Parallels Between the US and UK Digital Government Strategy

Originally Posted on GovLoop

In November of last year, the UK Government released their Digital Government Strategy. As a lot of attention here in the states has been placed on the federal Digital Government Strategy I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the UK’s version, and find any lessons learned we could apply here in the states.

Like in the US, the UK’s digital government strategy was developed out of the need to accommodate a society increasingly dependent on technology. As technology continues to permeate deeper into our lives, we turn to the web to request services, pay bills, and interact with our government. This trend has led to many agencies developing new web strategies and allow citizens to perform more transactions through self-service platforms.

The UK strategy lays out 14 goals and milestones to improve technology in government. The website states, “The strategy contains 14 actions which we have tried to ensure are meaningful and measurable. We recognize that departments are often more different than they are alike, so their departmental digital strategies – due for publication in December – will set out how they will each deliver the actions in light of their own users and services.”

I really enjoyed the quote, and the leadership philosophy the UK has embraced. Similar to the US, the quote is the indication that UK leaders understand that part of leadership is setting the vision, articulating the goals and providing a road map, but letting the agency leads drive the car to the final destination.

The UK’s 14 goals can be found below, followed by some parallels I saw to the US strategy. Overall, both the US and UK are taking the right approach to improving technology in government, and fully leveraging emerging tools to transform and redefine the customer experience for citizens. Here’s the UK version:

  1. Ensure there is an active digital leader on departmental and transactional agency boards
  2. Empower skilled and experienced Service Managers to direct the redesign and operation of services
  3. Ensure that appropriate digital capability exists in-house across departments
  4. Support improved digital capability across departments
  5. Redesign services with over 100,000 transactions each year
  6. Ensure all new or redesigned transactional services meet the digital by default service standard from April 2014
  7. Move the publishing activities of central government departments onto GOV.UK by March 2013, with agency and arm’s length bodies’ to follow by March 2014
  8. Raise awareness of digital services so that more people know about, and use, them
  9. Take a cross-government approach to assisted digital, and help people who have rarely or never been online to access and use services
  10. Offer leaner and more lightweight tendering processes
  11. Lead in the definition and delivery of a suite of common technology platforms to underpin the new services
  12. Remove legislative barriers which unnecessarily prevent the development of straightforward and convenient digital services
  13. Define and supply consistent management information for transactional services
  14. Use digital tools and techniques to engage with and consult the public

The 14 goals are interesting to explore. What was clear about the UK Digital Strategy is that like the US, the strategy clearly articulates a shared vision of how government should operate and run. Also, like the US strategy, it places a large burden of implementation and meeting objectives in the hands of agency leaders. The final comment in my brief overview is that the UK strategy clearly establishes metrics, standards, and goals for agencies to strive for collectively, and individually.

This discussion will continue in a future GovLoop report. At GovLoop we are currently working on a new research report, exploring how agencies are implementing aspects of a digital government strategy, and how emerging technology trends are impact government at the state and local level. We also are going to compare the UK and the US digital strategy plans, with that; here is your chance to take part in the report. We’ll be releasing a survey soon, but feel free to leave a comment sharing your success with digital government. To get the conversation started, I’ve listed ten parallels between the US and UK Digital Government Strategy, and would love to hear some of your ideas.

  1. Lead from the top, empower the agency leaders
  2. Set realistic expectations for agencies
  3. Give people the tools and resources they need to excel
  4. Accept trends happening in society, place trends into proper context to maximize benefits for government
  5. Expectations are higher now for government, and less room for error – use this to motivate and serve as a catalyst for change in government
  6. Set clear, measurable goals for agencies
  7. Importance of defining and engaging stakeholders (internal/external customers, citizens)
  8. Move to self-service for cost savings, efficiency
  9. Make technology and innovation part of an agency’s ethos
  10. Provide a clear vision to re-imagine and modernize government services

I’d love to hear any parallels you’ve identified, and thoughts on my 10 listed above. If you’re interested in learning more about our report, please feel free to send me an email,

5 Questions to Ask for Analytics Initiatives

Originally posted on GovLoop

Undoubtedly, analytics is transforming the way government operates and delivers services to customers. At all levels of government, agencies are now challenged to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and implement innovative measures to meet the complex needs of an agency. Yet, government analytics still continues to mystify and challenge the public sector, as agencies are pressed to understand the value and leverage the opportunity which analytics presents.

Whether it is challenges to leadership, identifying value, or understand costs, agencies today are exploring how to understand how to truly leverage the power of analytics. As many government websites are becoming increasingly transactional and services move to self-service platforms, it’s becoming clear that with the volume of data that government collects, creates, stores and manages, can be used to transform how services are delivered. For government leaders looking to implement an analytics program, five basic questions come to mind to assist in the decision making process:

– Do employees have access to the right information?
– What problem are is trying to be solved? Or what service is needs improvement?
– How do agencies connect the dots and access other data?
– What new value has been created for customers? What’s the ROI?
– How do we show leadership and change culture with data?

Although these questions are important, one of the first steps to unlocking the power of analytics is basic data discovery to know what format data is, how to access data, verifying authenticity and beginning to baseline information. As data can be structured (relational database), semi-structured (think XML and email ) and unstructured (not predefined, doesn’t fit well into relational databases), it is important to know and learn what kind of format data is in, to start to unlock the power of analytics.

Clearly, there are dozens of questions an IT manager can ask, and GovLoop would love to learn some more of your insights to data analytics in our upcoming report. Be sure to take our survey and help us create a community based resource to help your peers address core challenges with government analytics, and how to fully leverage the volume of data agencies currently have.

Do we have access to the right information?

Understanding where data rests, the format of the data and who has access is essential to any analytics initiative. Once the decision is made to invest in an analytics strategy, agencies must locate and be sure they are actually collecting the right data to solve an organizational problem. For instance, if an agency is going to start recruiting employees due to members of the workforce retiring, agencies need to locate data that shows them retirement trends, expected retirement dates, and the start to craft their strategy around available information, or survey and collect the right information.

What problem are we trying to solve? Or what service are we trying to fix?

With the large volume of data that is created and stored, agencies must take a laser-like focus to solving problems with data use. If the end goal is to increase self-service through a new online portal, goals and metrics should be defined that clearly map to the over arching goal.

How do we connect the dots and access other data?

Once data is collected, stored and understood, it is important that information is shared, securely and safely. If information is confidential or sensitive information, then this information likely should not be shared. But, if information is not very confidential, like web information or page visits, then information should be shared to peers to help them see impact of any program they are running.

What new value has been created for customers? What’s the ROI?

A great case study of using customer insights and data to improve government services comes from the City of Santa Cruz. Emily Jarvis, GovLoop’s Online Producer shared the story on the DorobekINSIDER, you can check out the story by following the links below, Emily writes:

The City of Santa Cruz is the smallest community to ever partner with Code for America, but it had one of the largest problems to solve: how to make it easier to take an idea for a small business from conception to reality.

They created an online permitting portal OpenCounter. The portal launched last Wednesday January 9, after an intense year of development, testing, and refinement.

This question is also particularly important, because it will indicate how data has improved a service. With clear metrics set, and a thorough analysis of data, agencies can calculate their return on investment for analytics.

How do we show leadership and change culture with data?

Recently GovLoop’s Research Fellow, Kate Long, wrote a great post identifying that leadership as a missing piece to analytics. Be sure to check out her post, as she does a great job outlining some of the challenges to leadership and analytics. For those leading government analytics programs, it is essential to continue to craft a culture of openness, placing a strong emphasis on program effectiveness, supporting employees needs for technology and leading by example.

Starting, implementing, reforming or ending a program in government is no easy task, but the right decision can be made by sound data analysis. As government continues to develop more data and becomes increasingly complex, analytics is going to play an essential role in transforming how government operates.

What would you recommend to your peers? How can they get started with analytics? What questions should they be asking?

Expert Insights: David Graziano of Cisco Talks BYOD

This post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, Exploring Bring Your Own Device in the Public Sector.

David Graziano, Director, Security and Unified Access, US Public Sector, Cisco, spoke with Pat Fiorenza of GovLoop on the state of BYOD in the public sector. David provided expert insights on how to best manage, control and implement a BYOD program for a public sector agency.

This guide addressed numerous best practices and ways to overcome common challenges for public sector agencies looking to implement BYOD initiatives. Graziano’s in- sights provide further evidence that although challenges still remain for BYOD, this is one of the most important trends occurring in government. During the interview, David was clear to highlight the benefits of BYOD, from optimizing business lines to workforce productivity and morale, BYOD clearly has the potential to transform how agencies operate. Although the benefits are clear, there are numerous best practices that David highlighted for agencies to consider.

He advised that agencies must start by embracing BYOD, and accept that BYOD is a trend that they must act upon, “Embracing BYOD is really important, because if they don’t, then the agency is actually moving away from technology rather than leveraging it to achieve their mission,” states Graziano.

Embracing BYOD is essential. BYOD initiatives show a commit- ment to becoming an innovative workplace and allowing people to work on the platform they desire. “If you embrace BYOD and make it very easy for people to get on the network and enforce policies to protect data, that is the best thing,” David keenly acknowledges. Once BYOD is embraced by agencies, he advises that it is essential that the organization create a simple user experience. David states:

“You need to create a simple user experience. This involves guest ac- cess and on-boarding, this means potentially allowing people access who do not work for you and limit- ing information they can access. If it is an employee, it is simple onboard- ing, managing the user experience of getting on the network, establishing and confirming their identity and authenticate who they are and their device, just making this a very smooth process.”

Clearly, the intent is not to limit ac- cess or have challenges connecting to a respective network. Although bringing in a tablet for work use can aid in productivity, David is sure to address the importance of setting policy to protect government data.

Graziano advises that the right kind of policy needs to be developed, and that if necessary, the agency has the right to delete all data on the tablet. Further, David advises the use of Next Generation Encryption in any BYOD initiative. Cara Sioman recently described Next Generation Encryption in a Cisco blog post as:

“The next generation of encryption technologies meets the evolving needs of agencies and enterprises by utilizing modern, but well reviewed and tested cryptographic algorithms and protocols. As an ex- ample, Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) is used in place of the more traditional Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) algorithms. By upgrading these algorithms, NGE cryptography pre- vents hackers from having a single low-point in the system to exploit and efficiently scales to high data rates, while providing all of the security of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) cipher.”

Security and protecting government data is the preeminent concern for any BYOD initiative, with the use of Next Generation Encryption, agencies can work to remain safe, and still implement a successful BYOD initiative.

David highlighted four core challenges for BYOD, the loss of control, protecting government data, limited access, and changing work practices for new employees. The loss of control is absolutely one of the most critical concerns with BYOD.

Graziano states, “Typically loss of control is related to policy, if you are going to let these things on your network, how do you possibly control where they are allowed to go, and what they are allowed to do?” These are important considerations to make while crafting a BYOD policy, and as David mentioned, the importance of a well-crafted policy is essential to the success of any government BYOD initiative.

Closely linked to the challenge of a loss of control, is the need to protect government data. David states, “If you are going to allow people access to data and in theory they could pull it down, you run the risk of losing that government data.”

Additionally, Graziano advises that policies will differ for government furnished devices and personal de- vices. “If the devices are government furnished, you can establish one set of policies, and if it is literally BYOD, then you have to establish a different set of policies for that,” stated David. Beyond operational and efficiency gains, BYOD also may contribute to tackling the challenges to recruit and retain top talent in government.

BYOD has the potential to shape how government entities recruit the next generation of public servants. BYOD is becoming a necessity for recruitment, as a new demographic of employees enter the workforce; entrants have expectations that information will be available at their fingertips. “They have expectations that they are gong to be able to access information on any device, any time anywhere,” David states.

David provided some great insights on BYOD and how it is shaping public sector entities. As the mobile boom continues, and agencies work towards delivering improved services, BYOD initiatives will be critical to improve how government operates.

David provided great insights how BYOD is shaping the public sector. As the mobile boom continues, and agencies work towards delivering improved services, BYOD initiatives will play a critical role trans- forming government operations and service delivery.

This is a practical and useful report for government agencies considering BYOD at their agency. The report will guide you through the challenges and common roadblocks faced by your peers in government, helping you to consider all the numerous aspects of BYOD and encouraging you to think of the challenges within your agency, and implementing some of the lessons learned from the report. As always, we want to hear from you, your challenges, and best practices you have found.

The Intriguing Relationship of Thomas Hart Benton & Jackson Pollock

Originally Posted on GovLoop

There has been a book on my reading list for the past few months – Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock. For a variety of reasons, I have always been fascinated by these two American artists. Benton symbolizes the American regionalist movement. Pollock abstract art. Benton was Pollock’s mentor – and Pollock ultimately fell in love with Benton’s wife, the drama! Even after Pollock rocketed to stardom and Benton fell off out of the art scene, they stayed in touch, and Benton ultimately became like a father to Pollock.

It’s interesting to take a brief look at these two artists upbringing. Benton’s upbringing is one of privilege and rebellion. His family was deeply rooted into politics, and Benton was being groomed to continue the family tradition. His father was a congressman, and Thomas Hart Benton was named after his uncle, who served as one of the first Senators from Missouri. With his pedigree and path defined before he could walk, Benton still rebelled, and through the unwavering support of his mother, he would pursue his passion to be an artist by studying in Paris, and then work and live in New York.

While living and working in New York, Benton would meet his protege, Jackson Pollock. Benton, to me, represents the quintessential American of his time. He was a pioneer, a rebellion, and paradoxically, through his art, he would ultimately attempt to preserve the American regionalist artistic tradition. As a nation was going through radical changes and reform during his time, his art would remind and depict American’s of everyday life. It’s an interesting study at how art is influenced by society, and vice versa. Above all, his life and the time he lived in fascinates me.

For all of Benton’s privilege, Jackson came from humble beginnings. His family moved often due to financial problems. Ultimately, Jackson found his way to New York City to study art, and built a rapport with Benton after studying under him for three years. In many regards, Pollock idolized Benton and treated him as a father figure. Under Benton’s influence, he would try and connect Pollock’s upbringing of growing up in the western United States to his art (regionalism!), check out the painting below, now quite the style you think of when you think of Jackson Pollock, also take a look at the citation and the name of the donor.

Jackson Pollock, Going West, c.1934-1935, oil on fiberboard. National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Gift of Thomas Hart Benton

Benton provided Pollock the discipline and focus to hone in on his craft and God given talents. Jackson had a history of severe alcohol abuse, which turned into a life long struggle that led to his untimely death in car accident in 1956, just as his career was hitting a creative peak.

I have often thought about these two men and their careers in fascination. My mother is an art teacher, and sadly I inherited absolutely none of her artistic gifts. But most importantly, my mother taught me to appreciate the arts, think critically about my surroundings, and always look at art and life through new perspectives. In essence, the lessons of Jackson Pollock and Thomas Hart Benton can be applied to how we view mentorship, leadership and how we shape view and/or shape our networks.

There are a lot of angels to take and look to understand their relationship in a context applicable to the workplace. In their own right, both men were extremely similar, but channeled their creative energies in different artistic forms. For Benton and Pollock, the ultimate goal was to create meaningful art that they were passionate about. For Benton, this meant being at the forefront of the regionalist art movement, highlighting the power, might and everyday life of Americans through his murals.

For Jackson, this meant coming into his own and rebelling against traditional forms through his abstract art. In both worlds, the goal and essence of their work was to create meaningful, passionate, and engaging art. Their art called for a higher meaning, and required complete and utter dedication to meet their goal. When you look at either a piece of art by Jackson Pollock or Thomas Hart Benton, you see a passion and dedication to their art, with a certain kind of discipline and even a pain in their work. It’s the unwavering dedication to their craft that tied both men together, the product and the way their art looks, is only a fraction of what ties the two men together.

What we can learn from their relationship is that personal attainment and ambition is different for everyone. People are motivated for a variety of reasons and in a variety of different ways, at the workplace this is critical to understand. As long as a group is aligned to common goals, a common vision, and aligned strategically, everyone in an department, organization can lift everyone else up. For instance, Jackson Pollock would not have been Jackson Pollock that we know without Thomas Hart Benton. Their objectives and art differed, but they shared a deeply rooted passion for creating meaningful art in their own eyes.

The second lesson is the importance of providing avenues for growth. Growth is one of the most important areas for a manager and organization to provide. Identifying spots where employees can excel, and putting them into the positions, on the right projects and keeping employees engaged in their work is at the heart of management. Although their styles drastically differ, Benton provide Pollock with a certain kind of discipline, structure and attitude that Pollock needed to excel as an artist.

The last lesson to touch upon is how important it is to expand horizons, engage with differing thoughts and to always stay challenged. Jackson Pollock and Thomas Hart Benton eventually created remarkable pieces of art, classified in very, very different genres. For me, this is a reminder of how important it is to associate with people of different backgrounds, different life experiences, and learn anything you can from them, and above all, not to be afraid to share your story.

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