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Official FCC Blog

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 FCC.gov/maps 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, FCC.gov has gone through a major transformation.   The evolution of FCC.gov has been described on several occasions in the following blog posts: Taking a peek under hood new FCC.gov, MyFCC-BetaNew Features and Enhancements- FCC.gov, and Understanding Maps.  We use the open source software, Drupal, to drive our site. Presently, Drupal is the CMS behind more than 70.gov websites, (see: http://dotgov.benbalter.com/cms/drupal/ 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

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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

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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

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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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The Women’s Initiative: Going Mobile and Connecting Women

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
February 15, 2012 - 06:07 PM

I am proud to announce that the FCC's International Bureau has launched a new Women’s Initiative which will leverage the experience, resources, and connections of the international ICT community to improve the status of women, their communities, and their countries.

During my trip to East Africa in 2011, I saw first hand the potential power of ICT collaboration and its impact on women and their communities. The same realities were true during my trips to Ghana, Senegal, and Gambia the year before where I saw the exponential increase in the usage of mobile phones in Africa and the doors that connectivity open for users. Our hope is to use the Women’s Initiative as a means of promoting mobile applications, connecting mobile application creators, and encouraging the creation of new mobile applications specifically targeted to women. We want this Women’s Initiative to help the global community make applications more flexible and adaptable to the changing technological needs of women. We hope to connect leaders at various companies, government agencies and NGOs in order to leverage resources to improve the lives of women. 

During my travels in Africa, I also had the incredible opportunity to meet with key NGOs like the Southern African NGO Network, which is already promoting the strategic use of ICTs for socio-economic development and poverty eradication in that part of the world. In addition to that, we anticipate facilitating women’s access to useful and practical applications through this effort.

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The Women’s Initiative: Going Mobile and Connecting Women

by Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner
February 15, 2012 - 05:30 AM

I am proud to announce that the FCC's International Bureau has launched a new Women’s Initiative which will leverage the experience, resources, and connections of the international ICT community to improve the status of women, their communities, and their countries.

During my trip to East Africa in 2011, I saw first hand the potential power of ICT collaboration and its impact on women and their communities. The same realities were true during my trips to Ghana, Senegal, and Gambia the year before where I saw the exponential increase in the usage of mobile phones in Africa and the doors that connectivity open for users. Our hope is to use the Women’s Initiative as a means of promoting mobile applications, connecting mobile application creators, and encouraging the creation of new mobile applications specifically targeted to women. We want this Women’s Initiative to help the global community make applications more flexible and adaptable to the changing technological needs of women. We hope to connect leaders at various companies, government agencies and NGOs in order to leverage resources to improve the lives of women.

During my travels in Africa, I also had the incredible opportunity to meet with key NGOs like the Southern African NGO Network, which is already promoting the strategic use of ICTs for socio-economic development and poverty eradication in that part of the world. In addition to that, we anticipate facilitating women’s access to useful and practical applications through this effort.

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New Features and Enhancements for FCC.gov

by David Robbins, Managing Director
February 14, 2012 - 12:37 PM

David Robbins

Just as the Internet is in a state of constant evolution, a good website must be in a constant state of innovation.  Since the launch of the redesigned FCC.gov last spring, we have continued to roll out new site features and enhancements. The daily work is informed by feedback from an array of audiences – legal practitioners, consumers, telecom professionals and elected officials, to name a few – as well as by best practices in the federal Web community and the broader Internet.

Two months ago, we announced the launch of MyFCC in beta, a companion site to FCC.gov that lets individual users create their own FCC online experience, with quick access to the tools and information they need. Today, I thought I would take the opportunity to update you on a number of more recent developments, and to again invite your feedback and suggestions.

These include:

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Expanding Broadband and Protecting Voice Service in Rural America

February 8, 2012 - 03:04 PM

Sharon Gillett

Improving communications in rural America has always been a focus for the FCC, and the primary vehicle to achieve that goal has been the Universal Service Fund.  Despite great strides in this arena, one area where rural America still lagged the rest of the country was access to broadband.  Eighteen million Americans still have no high-speed Internet, and millions live, work, and travel in areas without mobile broadband coverage.  To address this gap, we took on the massive, once-in-a-generation task of retooling our rural subsidy system, creating the Connect America Fund to finish the job of connecting rural America to broadband, while bringing accountability and fiscal responsibility to programs that for too long lacked both.  We’re moving forward aggressively to implement these important changes.

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