Category Archives: Innovate Gov

Beyond algorithms: Optimizing the search experience

oreilly.comWe live in a golden age of algorithms. Even though we’ve had search engines, speech recognition, and computer vision systems for decades, only in the last several years have they become good enough to move out of the lab and into tools we use everyday — products like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana.

But as good as our algorithms are, they could be improved by better human-computer interaction. In particular, most of today’s search engines tend to optimize for one-off transactions rather than engage people in conversations to improve the search experience.


Your Idea Could be the Change You Want to See

govloop.comHave you ever complained to a friend about how you could make a difference if you only had the tools to do so? Or ever look around your neighborhood and wish some things were different – improved even? Wait no more.

The Knight Cities Challenge is the opportunity to have your ideas become a reality. Through the challenge, the Knight Foundation could help provide you with the necessary tools like funding and advice to make real change. Your idea could help better the community around you.

Carol Coletta, Vice President of Community and National Initiatives for the John S.


Just Say It: 3 Easy Tips for Communicating In Plain Language“The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.” George Bernard Shaw

“Why don’t they understand the instructions?”

“How come we get so many calls when it is time for people to renew their licenses?”

“I can’t find anything on that website that even remotely sounds like what I need!”

Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve experienced this as a citizen trying to use government services. Or you’ve heard these complaints coming into your office every day. What gives? Maybe the language used to communicate isn’t plain enough.


Building an Automated Future

medium.comOur fears of automation aren’t due to problems of artificial intelligence, but of human intelligence.

In Andrew Ng’s interview about the dangers of AI, he says that he’s much more concerned about near-term effects that “increasingly smart machines might have on the job market, displacing workers in all kinds of fields much faster than even industrialization displaced agricultural workers.” This is a much more realistic concern. It has been raised many times over the past few years, notably by the Data & Society Institute’s project on the Future of Labor, and the Open Letter on the Digital Economy, to which Tim O’Reilly is a co-signer.


Civic technologists are transforming government for the 21st century

microsoft.comI’m always excited to attend conferences that Microsoft sponsors—especially one that puts the spotlight on leaders across the public, private, non-profit and academic sectors who are transforming government for the 21st century. That’s the perfect description for the code for America Summit, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, in Oakland, Calif.

Microsoft served as the only capstone supporter of the Summit, a self-described “roll-up-your-sleeves conference that brings together innovators from hundreds of governments across the U.S.


A Hospital Reduces Repeat ER Visits By Providing Social Workers

npr.orgA Milwaukee hospital is trying a new approach to get newly insured residents to stop using emergency rooms as their main source of medical care and develop relationships with doctors instead.

The pilot project at Aurora Sinai Medical Center, the only hospital left in a mostly poor, black area of downtown Milwaukee, is labor intensive. But it’s showing promise in getting patients connected with primary care doctors and in cutting ER costs.

“We’re targeting the high utilizers of the emergency department,” says Mark Huber, the hospital’s senior vice president of social responsibility.


2015 Data Science Salary Survey

oreilly.comExecutive Summary

Now in its third edition, the 2015 version of the Data Science Salary Survey explores patterns in tools, tasks, and compensation through the lens of clustering and linear models. The research is based on data collected through an online 32-question survey, including demographic information, time spent on various data-related tasks, and the use/non-use of 116 software tools. Over 600 respondents from a variety of industries completed the survey, two-thirds of whom are based in the United States.