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Health and Safety Widgets From The CDC


The Center for Disease Control is, in my opinion, one of the leading government agencies making use of web 2.0 tools and services.  They are actively working to provides citizens reliable, up-to-date information on health and safety concerns like the peanut butter recall and flu activity.  As part of their social media efforts, the CDC has available a number of widgets to add to your blog or home page.  Currently, 10 widgets are available for both healthcdcwidgets consumers and providers.  The newest widgets include the Flu Updates, Emergency Text Messages and the CDC Data and Statistics Widget.  Adding one of these widgets to your site is as easy as copy/paste or, if you’re an iGoogle user, you can simply click on the ‘Add to Google’ button next to each widget.

You can view all of the available widgets here and the full range of the CDC’s social media efforts here.

The Facebook Phenomenon – How Government is Getting Into The Act


Let’s face it, Facebook is huge.  More than 150 million people around the world are now actively using Facebook and almost half of them are using Facebook every day. This includes people in every continent—even Antarctica.  Now many government agencies are deploying their own version of this popular social networking site to share  information and connect with niche communities.

ExchangesConnect is a social network administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, US Department of State.  The site is geared toward people interested or participating in international exchange and learning more about other cultures.  Have you participated in a exchangesconnectstudy abroad or student exchange program?  Or know someone who has?  Imagine being able to connect to those people after returning home.  ExchangesConnect aims to help you do that and much more.  Recently launched in October 2008, ExchangesConnect already has more than 7600 members and over 60 active groups.

This spring NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center will debut an internal social network for its employees.  The site will mimic Facebook and feature individuals’ profiles, expertise and personal interests, said Linda Cureton, chief information officer at Goddard.  Spacebook seems to be NASA’s latest foray into social networking after their massive success with the @MarsPhoenix account on Twitter.

A-Space (A is for analyst), dubbed the “social network for spies”, was reportedly launched in September of 2008 as a social network for the intelligence community.  The effort is spearheaded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or DNI, a post created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to coordinate foreign and domestic security.  A-Space was developed specifically for prominent intelligence organizations such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA) with a total of 16 intelligence agencies participating.  The site aims to give spies a chance to interact with their peers and share data like they never have been able to before.  A-Space even made Time Magazines list of Best Inventions of 2008.  Naturally, the A-Space network will not be open to members of the public and only intelligence employees with the prerequisite level of security clearance will be granted official access.

And of course, you can’t talk about government social networking without mentioning Govloop.  It may not be federal agency run but is aimed at federal employees.  Govloop was launched by federal employee Steve Ressler in his spare time with the goal of connecting the government community.  It’s proving to be a great way for government employees at the local, govloopstate, and federal levels to collaborate, share ideas, and ask for advice and assistance.  Govloop now boasts more than 6000 members, 800 blogs, 300 groups, 250 discussions, 2000 photos.  Are you on Govloop?  I am.

The US isn’t the only place government is getting in to the social networking game.  In late 2008 Transport For London (TfL) – the government owned company running the public transportation system in London – launched a social networking site called Together For London. The purpose is to gather ideas from customers about how to make London a better place. Registered users can create an avatar (called “Little Londoner”), start and participate in discussions, and even set up a campaign.

P.S. I wonder if the Dept. of State employees can even access ExchangesConnect since it is built using Ning, which is blocked by many government agencies.  Hmmm…..

Related Read:

Start your own Facebook- Lessons Learned from NASA’s Spacebook Project

Best Practices for Government Websites


Nextgov.com released an article this week citing 5 government agencies employing the best practices needed to make a good federal web site.

They are not necessarily the best federal web sites out there, but rather sites that employ what consultants say are best online practices. They don’t all make use of the latest and greatest in Web 2.0 technology or sport cutting-edge designs, and that, Nextgov noted, can be a good thing.  Each of the agencies responsible for these sites paid careful attention to what their users wanted to see and do online.

NASA, Library of Congress, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Social Security Administration, and Transportation Security Administration were selected.  Nextgov highlights the agencies achievements with interactive screen shots of the agencies web site as well as examples of how they are doing the right thing outsite of their own site.

Read the full article here.