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March, 2012

Cutting-edge Health IT in the District at Children’s National Medical Center

by Jordan Usdan, Deputy Director, Public-Private Initiatives
March 30, 2012 - 03:11 PM

Last week I accompanied the Chairman for a tour, technology demonstration, and dialog on health IT and telemedicine at Children’s National Medical Center here in Washington, DC. 

We at the FCC, through the National Broadband Plan, Rural Health Care Pilots, and other telemedicine initiatives, are engaged in policymaking to improve the quality, efficiency, and availability of health care through communication technology.

I’ve read the news articles, policy briefs and heard from health IT professionals here at the FCC. But, nothing rivals witnessing firsthand how health IT is revolutionizing hospitals and doctors’ offices.

The first stop on the tour was the nurses’ station in the emergency department.  A half dozen LCD panels each listed the name, condition, wait time, heart rate, and status (pending laboratory and radiology studies) of the admitted patients.  This was previously tracked on a whiteboard in a static fashion. Moreover, all of this data is stored for quality analysis in patient records.

Next, we visited the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit where each room had a touchscreen with secure access to the patient’s essential aggregated health information.  We also learned that doctors can remotely monitor the live data feed from medical equipment from their home office or on their smartphone.

We then received a demonstration at Children’s National’s telemedicine center. Children’s National has affiliate offices regionally, nationally, and internationally that allow for telemedicine consultations with Children’s National’s expert doctors. This enables doctors to see more patients and saves travel time for both the patients and doctors.

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Incentive Auctions: The Concept Ratified, and the Work Begins

by Bill Lake, Chief, Media Bureau
March 27, 2012 - 03:53 PM


Congress ratified a historic policy innovation by authorizing the Commission to conduct incentive auctions of spectrum.  Now the work begins to make that innovation a reality.  The new law codifies the vision of an incentive auction as offering new options to broadcasters.

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Opening the Hood-and Code-Behind FCC.GOV/Maps

by Eric Spry, Deputy Geographic Information Officer
March 20, 2012 - 03:33 PM

We have released a new module that drives our page.  Often referred to as open sourcing our code, we are excited to release this for wider audience use and enhancements.

Over the past year, has gone through a major transformation.   The evolution of has been described on several occasions in the following blog posts: Taking a peek under hood new, MyFCC-BetaNew Features and Enhancements-, and Understanding Maps.  We use the open source software, Drupal, to drive our site. Presently, Drupal is the CMS behind more than websites, (see: for a complete list) and more than 600,000 other sites. 

Open source technologies like Drupal allow users to add modules, features and enhancements, which plug-in to the main software.  The web experience can be easily tailored to the needs of each site's users by drawing from a wide range of contributed Drupal modules without the long development cycle of other website solutions. The result is a fast, customized website. 

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Announcing the FCC .Gov Developer Meet-Up

by Michael Byrne , Geographic Information Officer
March 20, 2012 - 02:23 PM


Today, we would like to announce the FCC’s .Gov Developer Meet-Up, a follow up to our very successful developer day last year. The .Gov Developer Meet-up will introduce federal agencies with developer resources on their own hosted websites to the open developer community. The FCC will host the .Gov Developer Meet-Up on April 16, 2012 from 11:00AM- 3:00 PM in the FCC Commission Meeting Room. This event promotes open government and is not to be missed. 

The .Gov Developer Meet-Up is designed to expose the developer community to majority of the .Gov and developer resources currently in production.   The event will also give .Gov producers the opportunity to showcase their resources to the open developer community.  This is a ‘meet-up’ not a traditional code sprint.  We want to foster the developer community and interaction with FCC and other .govs.   Collectively we will learn what challenges and opportunities developers in other .govs face. We’ll also learn more about how developers are interacting with .gov resources.

Each of the 25 federal agencies with developer pages have been invited to give short ignite style sessions on their published application programming interfaces (APIs) or developer resources.   The .Gov Meet-Up will be a series of 7-10 minute ‘ignite’ talks, in which developers participate by asking questions and interacting with the core producers and the whole .gov/developer community, followed by an open gathering & discussion.  The meet-up will conclude with general session where developers can interact with the principals for each of these agencies, write code against these APIs, or present their use cases so government can understand how their assets are being consumed from the outside.  

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Data the Way You Want It – New GIS Data Formats for Mobility Fund Phase I

by Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer
March 8, 2012 - 07:34 PM


Today the FCC is taking another step in our approach towards open government. We are releasing additional formats of high-need data to make it easier to use for individual analysis. The data we are releasing is for the potentially eligible areas for the Mobility Fund Phase I of the Connect America Fund. We first published this data as files for use with spreadsheet and database software and as interactive map with the release of a public notice. While the map is very useful, and the data files thorough, we heard from some constituents who asked for additional help in accessing this data.

To answer that call, we have packaged the data in three ways for you to use, making the data more accessible to everyone. Now, in addition to the published map, the data behind the map is open for analysis by geographers, developers and analysts alike.We choose three of the most accessible data formats for geography to publish: shapfile, WMS, and Mapping Tiles. These formats are either industry standards, are established open standards or are extraordinarily fast approaches to analyzing and displaying the data.

One of the ways we are providing the data as a shapefile for download. The shapefile format is actually four individual files (.dbf, .shp, .shx, and .prj) all with the same prefix. This format is generally recognized as a standard transfer file for geographic information systems data. The shapefile is accepted transfer in just about every GIS software package.

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Celebrating International Women's Day: Going Mobile and Connecting Women

March 8, 2012 - 12:52 PM


As the world celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8, we at the Federal Communications Commission honor women who play an increasingly important role in the information and communication technologies (ICT) field. Last week, I attended a Global Telecom Women’s Network (GTWN) event in Barcelona celebrating 20 years of women in telecommunications.  The GTWN began with a handful of members and has grown to hundreds, an example of how many more women are choosing careers in telecom.

As the month of March is Women's History Month in the U.S., we hope our initiative encourages women in the ICT field as they take on prominent roles that will be celebrated in future years.

While women have made great strides in ICT, we also recognize the women who remain on the wrong side of the digital gender divide, who are unable to harness the true potential of ICTs in their lives.  Two weeks ago, Commissioner Clyburn announced the Women’s Initiative: Going Mobile and Connecting Womenthat highlights the unique role of ICTs to promote economic opportunities for women and girls around the world.

The FCC is helping to bridge that divide through the Women’s Initiative. We are excited to announce the next steps in our initiative:

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Remembering Congressman Donald Payne

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
March 7, 2012 - 05:30 AM

My first real recollection of Representative Donald Payne was during a Congressional Black Caucus gathering in the mid to late 90s, which focused lack of diversity when it comes to creative content and roles for people of color in Hollywood.

I watched intently as this proud New Jersey lawmaker engaged a room filled with stars, writers, producers and just plain old people like me who were personally and professionally vested in this space. And while it is both sad and true that those very same issues are ripe today—some would say even to a more significant degree— I left that session inspired and motivated that somehow and in some way, I was now better equipped to make a difference.

For many years following that session, Rep. Payne would thank me (thank me!) for attending a session that still influences me to this day. I remember it like it was yesterday, saying, “No, thank YOU, for being so forward-thinking and in-tune with how important it is for us to be represented across all entertainment genres”. But he was just that type. A trailblazer and a kind, unassuming history maker who extended social and professional graces your way. But unlike many who shared his title or stature, Rep. Payne never seemed to care if those types of overtures were reciprocated or initiated by plain old folk like me.

My last vivid recollection of the first African American to represent New Jersey in the U. S. House of Representatives was during World Cocoa Day at the Indonesian Embassy. Meetings delayed his arrival, but as soon as he walked in the room, there was excitement. And yes, I must admit that to me, his proud gait seemed more gingerly. Nevertheless, there was no sign that his passion and commitment to global affairs were affected by any malady.

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Marking Consumer Protection Week at the FCC

by Howard Parnell , Chief, Web and Print Publishing Division, Consumer and Governmental Affairs
March 5, 2012 - 04:14 PM

Looking out for consumers is a year-round job at the FCC, and Consumer Protection Week is an opportunity to take stock in our work, renew our commitments and note the achievements of our colleagues in other agencies.

The 21st Annual National Consumer Protection Week runs through March 10, with a variety of events planned in the nation’s capital and across the country. Activities range from an Illinois press conference calling for a ban on telephone bill cramming to a social-media powered national consumer Q&A. The week culminates with a Consumer Fraud Summit on Friday at Georgetown University, with Attorney General Eric Holder and the co-chairs of the Consumer Protection Working Group of the President's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

Here at the FCC, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau is responsible for developing and implementing the agency’s consumer policies. In recent weeks, we have targeted unsolicited pre-recorded telemarketing calls, known as “robocalls,” and collaborated with other commission colleagues on the recent Lifeline reform, a program vital to ensuring affordable communications for low-income consumers.

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