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What's Changed

by Learon Dalby
September 9, 2010

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The twenty first century has been about downloading data. Cataloguing, accessing, and downloading data. This has resulted in a great deal of innovation. On September 7, 2010 the FCC added the next play to the playbook with the release of www.FCC.gov/developer. I believe this is significant for a couple of reasons. First, data is still available for download. The FCC did not change course and begin offering a new service to replace one they already provided (download). They simply added to the playbook. Second, the release of the developer API’s opened the door for more innovation to occur. The API’s were provided with a number of ways to make calls to them. This will allow innovators to access the API’s in a manner they are accustom too.

The challenge- finding the niche and sustaining the system. It is critical that FCC quickly determine what API’s developers are finding useful and which ones need additional work. In other words; the success of www.FCC.gov/developer will hinge on the FCC’s ability to work with the developer community not just provide another way to access information. After all, isn’t bi-directional communication what Gov 2.0 is all about?

Learon Dalby currently serves as the GIS Program Manager in the Arkansas Geographic Information Office. He is responsible for managing a number of statewide incentives focused at providing open access to GIS data.

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Promoting Lifeline & Link Up at Joint Utility Discount Day (JUDD) in Washington, DC

by Donice Jones
September 9, 2010

On Friday, September 03, 2010 the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division staff attended Joint Utility Discount Day in Washington, DC. This event, sponsored by District Department of the Environment (formerly DC Energy Office) is designed to provide information on utility discounts and other forms of public assistance to qualifying residents of the District. The FCC was there to promote Lifeline & Link Up Awareness Week September 13-19, 2010. Lifeline & Link Up are programs that provide discounts to low income individuals for basic telephone installation and service.

Lifeline involves discounts on the monthly charges, and Link Up involves a discount on the cost of installation of telephone service. The discount is available for the primary residential services telephone and/or a wireless phone. Many consumers are unaware that these programs exist. Our goal is to work with social assistance organizations such as Office of the People's Counsel, and others, to ensure that more consumers become aware of the programs and receive information on how to apply.

Participating in an event such as Joint Utility Discount Day, with over 5,000 eligible consumers in attendance, was important. Events such as these are key in ensuring that consumers in the Washington, DC area develop an awareness of discounts offered through Lifeline & Link Up.

We are currently working with officials from Montgomery County and Prince George's County, Maryland as well as West Virginia, and Fairfax County, Virginia to hold similar events within the next month. And we plan to continue our outreach efforts beyond the DC Metropolitan area with future plans to make this a nationwide effort.

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FCC.gov/developer

by Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer
September 7, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:158:height=100,width=70]]Today the Federal Communications Commission is releasing four Application Programming Interfaces (API) and our first developer pages at fcc.gov/developer. These APIs are part of our Data Innovation Initiative and are foundation pieces in our own redesigning and improving FCC's web presence. We want the FCC's web presence to be larger than a single web site. We want the developer community to run with these APIs to make mash-ups and data calls connecting FCC data assets to other sources for creative and useful applications to the public.

When we publish data through open standards like these APIs and smart people make use of trusted government data in innovative ways, we realize the ideal of the Gov 2.0 movement of government and private sector innovating together to solve our great policy challenges.

Several aspects of this release deserve highlighting. First, APIs are central to our efforts for data transparency and open government. Second, all of these API's are RESTful in nature and return open structured data as a service. RESTFul APIs are popular on the web because they involve less programming effort to incorporate dynamically in mash-ups. We want many developers to view and use our data assets.

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Worth a Thousand Words: The FCC Through a Camera's Lens

by Benjamin Balter, New Media
September 2, 2010

The FCC Flickr stream is a great, free resource for students writing reports, bloggers writing posts, and just about anyone interested in the agency’s daily happenings. As works of the Federal Government, all of the FCC’s more than 500 photos can be used, edited, or mashed up with other media, in almost any way you can imagine.

Although all the sets are too numerous to mention, some of the more recent pictures include:

FCC Headquarters, 12th Street Entrance

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FCC Seeks Membership to Public Safety Advisory Committee Focusing on Technical Issues and Interoperable Public Safety Broadband Communications

by Jennifer Manner
September 2, 2010

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Earlier this week, the FCC marked the achievement of another significant milestone in the implementation of the National Broadband Plan’s recommendations for the deployment of a nationwide interoperable wireless broadband network for our Nation’s first responders by calling for public safety officials and others in the public to serve on a advisory committee that will make recommendations to the Commission as it develops the technical framework for the network (see public notice seeking nominations). Over the past year we’ve met with public safety officials, lawmakers, government partners, and the communications industry with one goal in mind – deployment of a cutting-edge interoperable broadband network for America’s first responders, hospitals and other public safety officials. Teamwork among all interested parties is the best formula for one day making this network a reality.

Nominations for membership on the Emergency Response Interoperability Center Public Safety Advisory Committee are welcome and may be submitted through September 17, 2010. The establishment of this Federal advisory committee continues the Commission’s ongoing dialogue with public safety as the Commission develops a framework for nationwide interoperability and expands this dialogue by including members from a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the public safety community, such as representatives of state and local public safety agencies, public safety trade associations, federal user groups, and other segments of the public safety community, as well as service providers, equipment vendors and other industry segments involved in public safety.

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Five Years Ago

by Jamie Barnett
August 30, 2010

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As the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is here, we are faced with a strong swirl of emotions and memories.  The unprecedented devastation that the Hurricane wrought was compounded by organizational troubles from many quarters. As painful as it is for America, I want us to remember the death and destruction inflicted on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. I want us to remember the bravery and determination of the people who suffered through it. And I want us to remember the valiant first responders, volunteers, members of the armed forces, and others who worked to save lives and property. It is important that we not forget any of this.

As I and our FCC staff members reflect on the anniversary of this American tragedy, we consider lessons learned and how we have worked to ensure the tragedy and devastation of Katrina are not seen again. I was not at the FCC in 2005, but I am proud of the response of the FCC during Katrina. In fact, the White House Lessons Learned document that was issued following Hurricane Katrina expressly recognized the FCC for “What Went Right” and the Commission was cited for acting quickly to facilitate the resumption of communications services in affected areas and authorizing the use of temporary communications for emergency personnel and evacuees.

Despite our success at response, we also recognized that there are things we can improve. First, while the FCC was well-prepared for most emergency events, we learned the importance of having a formal incident management system to manage the required FCC response to an emergency of the magnitude of Katrina. Accordingly, the FCC quickly worked to create a new Bureau, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, where emergency response and incident management could be resident.

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PSHSB August 31 Speaker Series

by Jamie Barnett
August 26, 2010

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On August 31, PSHSB will welcome Dereck Orr from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as our latest headliner in the Bureau’s Speaker Series.  The Speaker Series brings representatives from other government agencies to the FCC to speak about their work involving public safety and homeland security.  Dereck is the program manager for Public Safety Communications Systems in the Office of Law Enforcement Standards.  The Public Safety Communications Systems program focuses on leading the development of wireless telecommunications and information technology standards, profiles and guidelines for interoperability and information sharing among criminal justice and public safety agencies at local, state and federal levels. 

Dereck has a very impressive background and is enthusiastic about how his office can advance the communications capabilities of the nation’s first responders. He has been at NIST for eight years, and during that time, he was detailed for a short time to serve as Chief of Staff for SAFECOM.  Because of this experience and many others, he has unique insight into public safety’s unique communications needs.

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Importance of Broadband

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
August 26, 2010

Last week, I was in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a public hearing on the “Future of the Internet” sponsored by Free Press, Main Street Project, and the Center for Media Justice. Much already has been written about that event in the mainstream press, so I wanted to share with you the part of my day which has not been featured—my visits with Minnesota Public Radio and the South Minneapolis WorkForce Center. Both of these visits reinforced the ongoing work of the Commission to ensure that every American has access to affordable high-speed Internet service.

Minnesota Public Radio

Located in St. Paul, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) has been at the forefront of serving its community, through local and regional news and music over FM radio, for many years. Several things struck me as I was touring MPR’s impressive studios, soundstage, newsroom, and the Fitzgerald Theatre (home of The Prairie Home Companion). First, by hosting regular public discussions on the issues of the day in the beautiful UBS Forum, the public has the opportunity to be engaged on important matters through interactive dialogue. Citizens can tune in and listen, but they also can actively participate in these sessions. Second, independent voices have the opportunity to be heard and to find an audience—and by this I mean those voices that happen to be accompanied by musical instruments. MPR offers bands whose music would never be featured on most commercial stations a platform for exposure on The Current. Third, by offering local and regional news and actively expanding its news staff, MPR can better serve the public with the information it needs.

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Multilingual Emergency Alerts: More Than Just Alerting

by Lisa Fowlkes
August 16, 2010

It is indisputable that broadcast radio and television plays a critical role during times of disaster.  One need only look at the role broadcast played in delivering critical emergency news and information during the snowstorms of 2010 that blanketed the Northeast, recent tornadoes, floods and the hurricanes of 2008 and 2005 to know the pivotal role broadcast plays in ensuring the safety of life.  When disasters hit, it is imperative that all of us receive timely alerts and warnings, access to the latest information about an emergency situation, and guidance from government officials on what we should do to protect ourselves and our families.  For most of us, access to this information before, during and after a disaster is so commonplace, it is taken for granted.

Imagine, however, being one of the significant population that does not speak English.  If you are lucky, you have access to least one broadcast station that airs programming in your language.  If a disaster occurs, you expect that you will be able to receive Emergency Alert System (EAS) alerts, as well as other warnings and critical emergency information from that station.  But, what happens if that station has lost power and is no longer operating?  Where will you receive information regarding access to food or shelter?  How will you learn how to report or locate a missing relative?  How will you know about the best evacuation route?

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A regulatory what?

by Gray Brooks
August 16, 2010

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:185:height=80,width=70]]The business of regulatory agencies can sometimes be a bit obscure.  There is a swath of legislation known as administrative law that governs how the Federal Communications Commission serves the public.  The same applies to sister agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration , and Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  It is very important to all of us to make the FCC as open and transparent an agency as possible, but also to make the work that we do more understandable and accessible to everyone.  Whether blogging about upcoming litigation or sharing a screencast of how to file a formal consumer complaint, we’ll continue to scale out and revamp these efforts.   

Regulations.gov, EPA, and others recently held a contest asking citizens to submit videos explaining the federal rulemaking process and showing why it matters to you and me.  The winner was recently announced and we wanted to share it here at FCC.gov, too.  Enjoy! 

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