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Digital Firsts

by: David Robbins, Managing Director

August 15, 2012 - 11:52 AM

Three years ago this week, the Federal Communications Commission joined the Twitterverse with our handle @FCC.   A few hours after sending our first Tweet, we used Twitter to announce our entry into the blogosphere: “FCC launches first-ever blog, called ’Blogband,’ to chronicle events of the National Broadband Plan. Check it out: http://broadband.gov/blog.”

With the goal of transparency, openness and citizen engagement, this began the FCC’s efforts to connect with our constituencies through social media to keep them informed about FCC events, issues we’re working on and our ongoing efforts to provide access to government data and digital content.

Three years and over 2,000 Tweets later, the FCC reaches nearly half-a-million followers on Twitter @FCC, which puts us in the top five among all government entities, behind @WhiteHouse, @NASA, @CDC and @Smithsonian.

In September 2009, we expanded our social media presence with the launch of our Facebook page, which now boasts 10,000 “lifetime likes.” We also posted our first video – Chairman Genachowski on the National Broadband Plan (viewed 3,615 times) – to the FCC’s YouTube channel.   And in November that year the FCC photo stream on Flickr went live.

Many of the Tweets and posts have carried news about FCC digital media innovations, such as connecting citizen developers with the tools they need to unlock the power of government data, one of the key objectives of the federal government’s Digital Government Strategy.

In September 2010, the FCC hosted our first Open Developer Day – one of the first of its kind in the federal government – to enable the public, entrepreneurs, and government developers to better leverage the wealth of federal data to pour into applications and services. Our Open Developer Day coincided with the launch of the developer community on FCC.gov/Developer and the release of FCC data sets through Developer Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) hosted on that Web page. We also created an online clearinghouse for the public data of the FCC at FCC.gov/Data.

Our open development efforts continue. Most recently, we launched the Public Inspection File API that provides summary information about licensed TV broadcast stations and access to each station’s “public inspection file” with information about each station’s operations and service to its community of license. The online file provides users with information about political time sold or given away by each station, quarterly lists of the most significant programs each station aired concerning issues of importance to its community, data on ownership of each station and active applications each station has filed with the Commission.

The FCC is committed to openness and transparency, not just in releasing data as we always have done, but also through new ways of data visualization.  In October 2011, we released FCC.gov/Maps, which has quickly become one of our more popular sections.  Here we publish maps of data in conjunction with Reports, Public Notices, Orders, and other official FCC releases.  These maps often show very complicated data in very easy to understand ways.  We have used our advances in mapping technology to imbed maps in common applications like the Broadcast Public Inspection File and our Auctions System.

The FCC also participates in various Open Source Projects such as:

  • Content API Drupal Module, a “plug-in solution” for developers to make hundreds of thousands of Commission documents available to the public, in addition to all of the content on FCC.gov. Drupal developers can use the module on their own site to publish all of the site's content without any programming.
  • The SlashMaps for MapBox module that allows you to integrate MapBox's fast and flexible map hosting into your Drupal site. The module creates a /maps page listing all the maps from your MapBox account with a thumbnail preview.
  • Actively contributing code from internal and external projects on FCC on Github anytime it can be of use to other government agencies or the public.

Coming soon the FCC will release a Digital Strategy module on its website, building on the success of its data development initiatives.

Meanwhile, we continue to expand our Social Media reach. Soon we will be upgrading our LinkedIn page and creating a Tumblr account. And we’re always on the lookout for ways to reach new audiences and expand our information services through next-generation technologies.

The FCC is dedicated to helping citizens realize the technological and economic opportunities of the new millennium.   We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past three years, and remain committed to continued progress and innovation. We invite you to visit us on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to let us know what you think.

Our users can also keep in touch and track FCC news through RSS feeds, through a personalized web interface at My.FCC.gov, or by following this blog at FCC.gov.  And, as always, we appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts and comments with us. 

Updated: August 16, 2012 - 01:50 PM
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