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How Apple iPhone Updates Add Value to Mail

By Gary Reblin // August 11, 2017

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Gary Reblin is product innovation vice president for the U.S. Postal Service.

Apple’s update of the technological capability of the iPhone with the coming iOS release will allow the U.S. Postal Service to expand the opportunities and capabilities that can be provided to mailers.

There are three main additional capabilities that may help elevate the impact of Postal Service products: the iPhone camera can read QR codes; the ARKit allows for augmented reality creation, and the iPhone’s near field communications capability has expanded beyond Apple Pay. All three features can make it easier for customers to both create and interact with mail piece features.

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The QR code reader update removes the need for an additional application to read such codes. This removes the inconvenience of downloading a third-party QR reader application and streamlines the process of interacting with mail that features a QR code. For mailers, this may increase the value of leveraging QR codes to offer promotions in a mail piece and allows for a larger audience to be reached and positively affected.

The ARKit is a useful feature...

BlackBerry's New Phone Reminds You How Great Hardware Keyboards Can Be

By John Breeden II // August 8, 2017

BlackBerry/TCL Communication

John Breeden II is an award-winning journalist and reviewer with over 20 years of experience covering technology. He is the CEO of the Tech Writers Bureau, a group that creates technological thought leadership content for organizations of all sizes. Twitter: @LabGuys.

Back when cellphones were first becoming popular, the secure models of BlackBerry phones and texting devices earned the company a near monopoly within the federal government.

But they stopped evolving and had limited app stores compared to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android phones. Over time, both Android and iOS devices also began to concentrate more on security, and Microsoft got into the act by introducing Windows phones that were closely tied to their desktop counterparts.

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By the time President Barack Obama famously began carrying around his heavily modified BlackBerry on world trips, the market within government for the company had just about collapsed.

It’s been a few years since a new BlackBerry device was released and looking at the KEYone, it’s clear the company is attempting to recapture some of the notable features that made their devices so popular...

Artificial Intelligence Can Make Voice Technology Less Frustrating

By Tom Romeo // August 7, 2017

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Tom Romeo is general manager of U.S. Federal Services at MAXIMUS.

At a recent event, Chris Liddell, assistant to the president and director of strategic initiatives, spoke about the White House Office of American Innovation’s focus on improving federal customer service, with the ultimate goal of providing citizens with “the same experience as they [receive] in the private sector.”

As noted by Liddell and other senior officials, modernizing the government’s outdated legacy systems will be an important part of this process. But this effort can also include incorporating more AI and machine learning-driven technologies into the systems that directly handle an enormous amount of citizen requests: engagement and contact centers. 

The Citizen Service Challenge

Today, and in the near future, voice is expected to remain the most prominent channel for citizens to interact with the government. Yet, while interactive voice response (IVR) technology has advanced over the years, it still lacks the capabilities necessary to meet citizens’ expectations and government demands. Simply put, IVRs have not proven to be a desirable self-service capability and continue to rank as one of the most frustrating aspects of the citizen journey. 

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How a Transparent Process Made Federal Spending Transparency Possible

By Christina Ho, Rob Cook and Bryce Pippert // August 2, 2017

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In May, the Treasury Department released a new website (beta.usaspending.gov) to share detailed federal spending information so that federal agencies, oversight bodies and the public can gain better insights into how tax dollars are used. For the first time, granular federal financial and award information has been standardized, connected and published. The new data sets and the website were released on the third anniversary of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act becoming law, the mandated reporting deadline for federal agencies. It was a huge milestone marking a new level of government transparency. Our government's finances have never been more transparent.  

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The DATA Act is the first open data law in the United States. Treasury’s charge was to track nearly $4 trillion in annual spending on a quarterly basis and link data from disparate functions and systems—managed by over 100 individual federal agencies—into one common standard. This has never before been done. Unlocking this data required significant collaboration with stakeholders across the federal government. And, the rollout of the governmentwide data standards, the data collection software and the new...

The Great Cybersecurity Bake Off: Mastering the Recipe

By Greg Touhill // July 28, 2017

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Greg Touhill, CISSP, CISM, is the president of Cyxtera Federal Group, former federal chief information security officer, and guest author for the (ISC)² U.S. Government Advisory Council Executive Writers Bureau.

In part one of this series, I addressed the four ingredients necessary for effectively “baking in” cybersecurity. In part two, I address the role that the right cookbook and a trained chef play in mastering your cybersecurity recipe.

If technology represents the ingredients in your cybersecurity recipe, your processes represent the cookbook. Your processes define and document the implementation of your cybersecurity strategy and supporting policies. They provide your workforce, both organic employees and third-party partners, with the instructions of not only what you want done, but why and how it needs to be done properly.

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Your processes should clearly link your cybersecurity strategy to discrete tasks supporting your operations. Ensuring that your workforce is appropriately and adequately trained to successfully accomplish those tasks is an essential due care and due diligence function. Training is a continual process and not a “one and done” activity. Best-in-class organizations such as the U.S. military...