Seeking Your Input on Building a 21st Century Platform

Posted by Janice Clark
August 22, 2012
Smartphones As Seen During a Concert

In response to the Federal Digital Strategy that the White House released in May 2012, the Department of State seeks your input in identifying services that may be appropriate for development by modern tools and technologies. We have two questions for you.

Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, allow for sharing data between applications. Content that is created in one place can be dynamically posted and updated in multiple locations on the web. What information from the U.S. State Department would you find useful for us to make available via web APIs?

We've identified 7 possible API candidates, which you can review here on the state.gov/digitalstrategy page. Or if you have a different suggestion, let us know that, too.

What U.S. State Department services would you like to suggest be optimized for mobile use?

We've identified 8 mobile candidates, which you can review here. Or, if you have a different suggestion, let us know.

To keep up with other efforts related to the Federal Digital Strategy, visit www.state.gov/digitalstrategy. We'll be updating that page frequently as we continue to work on the Strategy's major milestones.

Thanks so much for your input as we build "a 21st century platform to better serve the American People."

Comments

Comments

Gabby G.
|
China
August 22, 2012

Gabby G. in China writes:

Happy to hear you are adding new digital features! Here are my suggestions: Perhaps for those of us that are frequent international flyers, an embassy "check in" service would be nice. Where the app could find our location, and give us the option to register with the closest embassy (all being very mobile friendly and within the app). At the very least it should be able to give you all the important details of the embassy closest to you. Through this app you should be able to check for the most recent information released by the consulate and find any other pertinent information regarding the region you are in.

Kurtis B.
|
Japan
August 22, 2012

Kurtis B. in Japan writes:

I travel extensively world wide in aviation. Most new generation have cabin surveillance and outside aircraft realtime video, perhaps an app can be linked (time lapse and flight number blocked for security reasons) of the aircrafts exterior camera veiws for other than NSA current uses. Perhaps a real time link to phone cameras other than the current DOM 01010 NSA flags utilized could be a direct APP for public use also.

christopher s.
|
United States
August 23, 2012

Christopher S. in the U.S.A. writes:

Api s are basically apps correct? I looked at the progress you guys made and its difficult to understand but heres my pitch. Politico.com has an tab you can click called 44. It monitors everything the president is doing from signing bills to making speeches. If the state dept had an app that let the public know everything it did that day thats allowed in the public eye but may lose out on media time because of a bigger story i think people would really like that. I know i would. It makes the people feel more connected to washington dc if they are constantly updated.

Luke R.
|
District Of Columbia, USA
August 23, 2012

Luke R. in Washington, D.C. writes:

Don't waste resources making any APIs. Make LOTS of large data sets available for bulk download in simple CSV format. Developers can easily use those to make the same functionality as an API, and the CSVs are much better for researchers.

Necmettin S.
August 24, 2012

Yasar writes:

hello

Janice C.
|
District Of Columbia, USA
August 23, 2012

DipNote Blogger Janice Clark writes:

@ Gabby G. in China -- Thanks for your suggestion! We recommend that you check out Smart Traveler, the smartphone app we developed for iPhone and Android. It should meet your requirements. Read more here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/rls/dos/165020.htm.

Gina
|
North Carolina, USA
August 23, 2012

Gina in North Carolina writes:

To quote someone on Twitter, I would like to see an app that will help me get a good job. I took care of my Mom until she died, tried going back to school, let due to finances, and been out of work for over 10yrs. Now I cannot get a job because of it. Before Mom got so sick I was a worker that was always there doing my best. That doesn't seem to matter to anyone. Applications are done online and there are no spaces to explain and tell of my qualifications. I need help to get a job so I can help my husband catch up and pay bills.

Michi E.
|
Maryland, USA
August 23, 2012

Michi E. in Maryland writes:

I would like to see foreign travel advisories provided in an API.

Naadir J.
|
United Kingdom
August 23, 2012

Naadir J. in the United Kingdom writes:

Not sure what your relation to USAID is, but you need to follow in DFID's footsteps in terms of accessibility of data.

Perry B.
|
California, USA
August 24, 2012

Perry B. in California writes:

A vast majority of diplomacy in the world is not state-to-state but rather person-to-person.

Now that more of the world's people are armed with the tools of the digital age, how will the U.S. State department change its policies to accommodate greater access and empower more person-to-person citizen diplomacy?

Natalie B.
|
United States
August 24, 2012

Natalie B. in the U.S.A. writes:

For APIs, I think you want to distribute data that needs crunching--that can be made more attractive for a general audience.

From your list I would focus on the bibliographic metadata (but please find a different name for that) and U.S. Passport Issuance data.

I'm interested in the bibliographical data because I think people need (and want) a clearer understanding of American foreign relations throughout history. I'd like to be able to organize this information by country over time. It needs a good front-end to draw people in. Application programmers and usability experts are exactly the kind of people you would want to tackle this data, and it would save you from having to build it yourself.

I think the passport data would be good because it's easy to grasp intellectually and it's appealing to general audiences. I'm seeing maps and charts. I'm seeing comparisons between number of passports and other socioeconomic data provided by the Census, and academic studies of same.

I'm sure there's actual data backing up the other candidates on the list, but from what it says, they feel static. Travel.state.gov doesn't need to be crunched, just organized and searched. You could make a mobile app out of those if you wanted, but why not just make good web sites that are optimized for mobile?

Moving away from the list, I'd love to see an app that focuses on international hot spots--not just in a wide sense, but in a specific sense. Something that combines actual reports of crime against Americans with local news stories, tweets, etc. It would be great to have some solid, real-time information about where it is safe to go when I am traveling. If my phone could alert me that I am entering an area that could be dangerous, and provide tips on how to behave (or avoid the area) would be extremely valuable to me as a traveler.

Similarly, an app that would allow me to call up relevant information--phrases, traditions, social graces, interesting history, WikiTravel listings, famous works of literature--based on my physical location would be great. Perhaps these features could be rolled into a future addition of Smart Traveler.

Eden
|
California, USA
August 24, 2012

Eden in California writes:

I think the people who spend a lot of time on the State website are the people who are actually interested in getting a job. Teenagers, future diplomats, etc. I would suggest the careers section to be upgraded. What you should also focus on is the image of this 21st century platform. It has to be "COOL". I would say that Minimalist design is cool and simple. Simple is also another thing you should remember with out making it all about texts. Make more video presentations with written descriptions for people who actually want to read. I think it's important to really make the careers section better. More information about becoming a diplomat, what it takes to be a diplomat, and about the process....there are so many people that could be applying but are not confident about their qualifications. Introduce more diplomats to the public.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 28, 2012

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Well, I wouldn't know what would happen if the State Dept collaborated with a video-game design group to design a virtual on -line UN and players could learn all about the inner workings of diplomacy and all that entails.

Just a thought...

What if this wasn't a game and the whole world had voice in what's going on in it?

Now there's an app for that somewhere 'round here I'm sure.....(chuckle).

EJ

Janice C.
|
District Of Columbia, USA
August 28, 2012

DipNote Blogger Janice Clark writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Thanks for your creative idea! The U.S. Diplomacy Center at the State Department is working on various interactive, educational projects that would accomplish a similar goal to educate, inform, and engage the public in the work of the Department. Please visit http://diplomacy.state.gov.

@ Eden in California -- Thanks so much for your suggestions. We’ll be sure to consider how we can work these ideas into future plans and designs.

@ Luke R. in Washington, DC and Christopher S. in the USA -- Thanks for your input. We will take these suggestions into consideration as we move forward.

@ Kurtis B. in Japan -- Thanks for your suggestion. We’ll share your ideas with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Indir
|
Turkey
February 11, 2013

Indir in Turkey writes:

Very good! Thank you to everyone.

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