Articles

    Member Spotlight

    Jamie Klenetsky Fay lives what some may consider a double life.
     
    Jamie Klenetsky FayIn her daily life, Jamie lives and works in Morristown, New Jersey where she is the Digital Media Manager for Morris County. Her job is developing and maintaining the county’s many websites, promoting the county via social media (and teaching other municipalities to do the same), producing video and audio, and managing multiple projects. She is a self-taught web designer who has been in the industry for over a decade. Her microsite, Morris County Elections Center, County of Morris, New Jersey, won a Members’ Choice Pinnacle Award last year.
     
    Performance
     
    But website design isn’t Jamie’s only forte –  she is an award-winning composer who focuses primarily on choral and vocal music. She also sings professionally in a variety of ensembles.
     
    After taking voice and piano lessons throughout her childhood, Jamie became a member of a number of choirs in high school. She completed a music degree from Rutgers University (affiliated with Mason Gross School of the Arts) and has sung professionally ever since.
     
    Jamie currently performs with C4: The Choral Composer/Conductor Collective, based in New York City. She was previously an artist in residence with the Continuo Arts Foundation, performing with the organization’s professional ensemble, Sonare. She also performed in the premiere concert of the Red Oak Contemporary Ensemble. Jamie is a singer with the Eastern Opera of New Jersey and has appeared in multiple productions, the latest as Mamma Lucia in Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana.
     
    Composition
     
    Throughout the years, Jamie has composed vocal, chamber and electronic works. Being a vocalist, she fell in love with writing choral music. She won the New Voices competition in 2007 (San Francisco Choral Artists) and was a finalist in a chamber writing competition in Omaha, Nebraska. C4 performed two of Jamie’s works in New York City in 2009 and 2010. She was commissioned to write three pieces for the Seton Hall University Chapel Choir (2010-2011). She also had her electronic music heard during New Music Hartford in 2011. Two pieces, "Tomaraji na kumo" and "Seawall," have been performed by C4 in the past two concert seasons (2016 and 2017). "Tomaraji" was also performed by sister organization C3LA in 2017.
     
    Jamie recently attended the prestigious Creative Musicians Retreat, where her piece for marimba and violin, Thoughts Creep In, was workshopped and performed by award-winning musical theatre songwriter Matt Gould and the Mivos Quartet which is known as “one of America’s most daring and ferocious new-music ensembles.”
     
    In 2018, a new choral piece by Jamie, I Remain, was premiered by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Men’s Ensemble in their joint concert with C4. Two art songs, Distance and To Be Heard, were premiered in Petoskey, Michigan and Kansas City, Missouri.
     
    Listen to a C4 performance of Jamie’s composition "Seawall" on YouTube.

    Another year, another retreat…

    The notion of a retreat often conjures images of exotic locations somewhere in the tropics, where one engages in activities to expand awareness through ancient Vedic traditions with Deepak Chopra. Others may picture the work retreat with team-building activities that are supposed to foster trust among colleagues.

    The NAGW board retreats are an entirely different beast. They take place in the spring at the location where the National Conference is held. This year we’ll meet up in Salt Lake City, April 24-26.

    Rather than team-building exercises, retreat days are filled with organization-building sessions. Board members follow a strict schedule of strategic planning to move the organization forward and conference planning to ensure  – as much as possible – attendees experience a glitch-free, enjoyable event.

    Some years, strategic planning days will have a professional facilitator. Last year we engaged Sherry Jennings, founder of Sound Governance, whose invaluable assistance helped us take a close look at our organization’s culture and needs and consider long-term, value-driven strategies.

    The other part of the NAGW board retreat entails conference planning, going over all the details such as our roles and responsibilities, inspecting the facilities to ensure appropriate room for breakout and keynote sessions, checking audio, determining video camera locations, deciding on signage, discussing Pinnacle Awards banquet and entertainment, investigating N3 locations, selecting giveaways and swag items, deciding on tee shirts and board polos, and nailing down every detail right down to who gets to use the GaffGun gaffers tape dispenser to hide cables and cords (Frankie Rios’ turn this year).

    NAGW board retreats entail a lot of hard work. At the end of the day, members meet up in the president’s suite to enjoy a cold beverage and watch episodes of "The IT Crowd." Mostly because we’re much too knackered to consider any alternative evening activity.

    The Emperor's New Clothes: Accessibility for All to See

    By Gregg Turnbull

    %95.8 ADA compliant graphicToday, local government websites have become the most heavily utilized tool by cities and counties for outreach, engagement and two-way communication. Citizens visit the sites to stay in the know, provide feedback, and get access to services, while staff heavily rely on site-hosted tools to carry out their daily tasks. With communities’ increased reliance on their websites, it is more important than ever to ensure they can be accessed properly by all visitors. This includes the estimated 1 in 5 Americans with some form of disability - numbers rising as our population ages.

    A Quick Review of the Laws.

    The American with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title II prohibits state and local governments from discriminating based on a disability for ALL public services and programs. In addition, if the local government is a recipient of federal funds, Section 508 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act, passed in 1998, requires local governments to make electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Litigation over accessibility is an ever-present risk for local governments. If Beyonce can get sued over an inaccessible website, so can you.

    The need for continuous site monitoring.

    Accessibility is tricky to attain when managing high page counts, and even more complex when department staff members are offered a seat at the web editors table. Content Management Systems (or CMSs) lower the tech hurdle to their participation. Luckily, tools are available to continually monitor your site for barriers to accessibility, such as Siteimprove or Monsido. At Larimer County we, as of this publication, have over 130 web editors who add and update content all hours of the day. We partner with Siteimprove to continually monitor and score the site for accessibility, quality and search engine optimization and have made great strides in bringing each score up. In the beginning, these scores were only visible to our staff. It seemed unfair (and anticlimactic) not to share with all, and thanks to Siteimprove’s API, that is what we did.

    Sharing our scores.

    Since the cries for government transparency echo just as loudly as those for accessible websites, we thought it made sense to share our Accessibility (and Quality) efforts in real-time. From start to finish, it took us roughly a week and a half to release a prototype of our Accessibility and Quality Assurance Dashboard, which has since gone through a few minor revisions. Siteimprove’s API is clean, rest based, and was easy to integrate into our site. In order to mimic Siteimprove’s internal graphs and visuals, we leaned on HighCharts scripting library. Since our site is built using Drupal, we built our dashboard using PHP. The code is a simple enough one-page script that could be modified or translated to another language if needed. If you are interested in reviewing the real-time dashboard, visit www.larimer.org/accessibility. If you are ready to dive into the code, we’ve released our PHP dashboard on Github. Note, the only items that require updates in the code are the API KEY and your SiteImprove SiteID. Hope this helps at least a few others to disrobe and share their accessibility and quality scores with the world.

    Make a Memorable Conference a Memorable Stay in SLC

    Joining us at the National Conference in Salt Lake City? Tacking on a few days for some sightseeing? Below are a few attractions you shouldn’t miss during your SLC stay.

    Nestled high in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains, just south-east of the Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City offers plenty for visitors to see and do.

    SLC was laid out on a grid system, so all roads lead to Temple Square – a breath-taking 35-acre complex in the heart of the city. Owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is home to the magnificent, 19th-century Salt Lake Temple and the neo-gothic Assembly Hall. The world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs in the domed Tabernacle. The Family History Library houses millions of genealogical records profiling more than three billion deceased ancestors from around the globe, making it the largest library of its kind in the world. For information on everything to see and do at Temple Square, visit: www.templesquare.com/explore/.

    Head out to the Utah State Capitol building for a free guided tour of this prominent SLC landmark. Information is available here: utahstatecapitol.utah.gov

    If you’re into the arts scene, visit the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum’s six gallery spaces exhibit work by local, national and international contemporary artists. The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) is a university and state art museum. Its permanent collections include over 17,000 works of art representing many different cultures, including African, Oceanic and the New World, Asian, European, American, and the Ancient and Classical World.

    Other SLC museums include The Leonardo, a science and art museum where you can explore the many ways that science, technology, art, and creativity connect. There’s also the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts which features works made by artists from Utah’s Native American, rural, occupational and ethnic communities.

    If you enjoy the outdoors, explore 80-acre Liberty Park in central SLC. Be sure not to miss the park’s aviary and greenhouse. Red Butte Garden is a terrific spot if you’re looking to spend a bit of time doing a nice long walk. The Garden is housed on the University of Utah campus in northeast SLC. It’s divided into sections, each devoted to a specific type of plant or ecosystem.

    Hogle Zoo is located just east of the University of Utah campus. It’s home to more than 800 animals. Visitors can feed the zoo's rhinos and birds and meet Zuri, an African elephant born at the zoo in 2009.

    Outside of city limits, the 1,700 square-mile Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River. Or take a guided tour Utah Olympic Park, located 28 miles east of SLC. Need to simply get away from it all? The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest has 2.1 million acres of Mother Nature on offer.

    These are just a few suggestions for your SLC visit. There’s plenty more to see and do when you get there, so start planning for a terrific conference and a great Utah experience.

    The New NAGW Logo (Ta-Da!)

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 2 • Issue 1 • Fall 2018

    Logo redesigns take place in every industry but not always with great success. Some may remember the infamous 2011 J.C. Penny redesign fail – the new logo was created by a third-year graphic design student at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Although nicely executed, the redesign did not appeal to the store’s market base and was replaced by another update a year later. Logo redesign number two saw little success as well and the company was compelled to go back to its original pre-2011 logo. Three years, three logo changes.

    The NAGW board of directors discussed the idea of updating the organization’s logo for a number of years – the Nike-esque swoosh went out of fashion more than a decade ago and the USA outline had long neglected the inclusion of states 49 and 50. This year, it was decided that it was time to go through the rebranding exercise but there was no desire among members to make this a long, drawn-out, and ultimately painful experience, the sort which creates tremendous dissent and endless arguments.

    Although the annual conference logos have always been created in-house (to lesser and greater degrees of success), it was decided to leave the job of redesigning the organization’s logo to a pro. After all, NAGW is an organization of professionals, so a professional designer was required to do the job for such an important task. Of course, the design cost was a significant issue but the board was able to find an expert designer who was willing to provide a selection of logos from which to choose at an affordable price.

    The designer asked the board members which of the three most basic types of logos they preferred (icons/symbols, logotype/wordmark, combination of the two), what notions the logo should represent, did the board have color preferences, and was there a specific mark that should be incorporated into the design.

    The board chose to go with the combination icon plus logotype format and to include the organization’s full name. To reflect the “national” aspect of the organization, the colors red and blue would best suit the purpose.

    The process took two rounds of logos and a vote.

    The final design includes all of the board’s suggestions as well as some whimsical elements – the three-dot ellipsis on the letter N and the star forming the counter in the letter A.

    The new logo will soon be incorporated in all of NAGW’s marketing collateral with the launch of the new website in early 2019.

    New NAGW logo

     

    Where To Begin In A Website Redesign Project

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 4 • Summer 2018

    by Leslie Labrecque

    Redesigning your website can be a daunting project so where do you begin? Fortunately I managed several website redesign projects and I’m here with information you’ll need to have available before you start. Below are a few items that can help you steer your project in the right direction:

    1. Stakeholders: You will need to have key executives in your corner who can help you steer the project should it need help moving along. A suggested pairing of stakeholders would be your IT Director (to help on the technology side) and your Communications Director (to help on the content side). You should meet with your stakeholders monthly to keep them abreast of the project.
       
    2. Content Analysis Report: A content analysis report contains a listing of the content on your website. You can compare this list with website metrics to see how often the pages are being viewed. Use the content analysis report to rank your pages and try to clean house so you don’t migrate stuff you don't need to your new website.
       
    3. System Requirements: You need to define what your new website needs to be able to do from a technology perspective so you can pick a system that matches the requirements. It is also helpful to define the gaps with your existing system for comparison's sake. Use the system requirements to rank system demos when you reach that point.
       
    4. User Feedback: It is helpful to conduct preliminary research to understand what is working and what’s not working on your existing website. It is good to talk to both your external users as well as your fellow staff to understand what is required.
       
    5. Creative Brief: A creative brief is a document you can use to outline the purpose, requirements, expectations and goals for your website. This document is a great starting point for conversations with your graphic designer to convey the purpose of your website.

     

    A Brief Introduction To Your New Board Member-At-Large

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 2 • Issue 1 • Fall 2018

    by Gregg Turnbull (your new Board Member-At-Large)

    It was summer of 1994, and I had just finished my last day as a summer intern at the Phelps Dodge copper smelter outside Silver City, NM – the small town I had called home since 2nd grade. I was coated in a thin layer of arsenic-rich dust and, looking down at the holes left by acid on my pants and thick work shirt, I realized a life working in a copper mine near a city of roughly twelve thousand would not stick. The following year, I enrolled as a freshman at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ, as a Systems Engineer – a major my roommate and I picked at random from the majors catalog.

    Both the move and my fateful choice in major panned out.

    After earning my Bachelor's at U of A, I went on to first work at Motorola – back when Motorola still had cool phones. (Remember the Razr?) After four years in the corporate world, I moved to Phoenix to work in academia, namely, at the Biodesign University at Arizona State University. While at the Institute, I, along with my team, built and supported their public facing website, developed Ruby on Rails apps for use in research, and even worked with a team on the launch of a plasmid (genetic material) clone and storage operation titled, DNASU – a project that netted me a published authorship in a scientific journal. While at the institute, I also researched digital health, quantified self, and worked alongside a Nobel Laureate.

    After fifteen years in the desert, the family had grown weary of the triple digit temps and lack of seasons, as it was no fun jumping in cactus needles in the fall. We packed up and headed north to Colorado.

    For the past four years I have led the web services team for Larimer County, Colorado. This year, after launching the new larimer.org in September of 2017, we were awarded the 2018 Pinnacle and member choice award for large counties at this year’s NAGW annual conference in Pittsburgh, PA. I have been a speaker at the past three NAGW conferences. At home, my wife Janelle and I spend most of our remaining waking hours wrangling our six kiddos – ages two to fourteen. You are welcome diaper companies.

    My passion is in making our County’s engagement with the citizens work well by providing easy to use sites, regardless of device or disability. I want real-time data to be present and usable by citizens where and when they need it, delivered in a format that is intuitive and easy to understand and apply. I believe that members of NAGW are in an immensely important role and that each time we commingle and share ideas our, cities and counties are better off.

    I am excited to be in this role and excited to work with my fellow board members to continue to make NAGW awesome.

    Cheers,
    Gregg
    greggt@nagw.org

     

    Introduce Yourself With Instagram’s ‘Nametag’ Feature

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 2 • Issue 1 • Fall 2018

    by Jennifer Chapman

    There’s a new way to introduce yourself to the digital world, thanks to one of Instagram’s latest features. 

    Instagram launched a Nametags feature, which allows users to create personalized “nametags” that can be scanned by other Instagram users. When someone scans your individual Nametag, they’ll be prompted to follow you.

    Sound familiar? Think of it as Instagram’s version of a QR code.

    According to Instagram, the goal is to make it easier for users to connect and reduce the need to go through long and confusing searches.

    So, how does this help your municipality, county, or federal agency connect with new followers? 

    Besides meeting followers in person at local events, you can screenshot your Instagram Nametag, post it on your website, on your social media channels, in email campaigns, and printed materials. 

    Head to your Instagram profile, tap on the top right navigation menu, and select “Nametag” to give it a try!

    It’s faster than searching for a profile and ensuring you have the handle spelled correctly.

     

    Favorite Web Browser Extensions

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 2 • Issue 1 • Fall 2018

    A New Phase In The NAGW Website

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 4 • Summer 2018

    We are excited to share that the NAGW website is currently in the process of being updated. We have been using Drupal and CiviCRM for many years and, while this works for our business, the board realizes that maintaining open source software is very labor intensive.

    We are also aware of the fact that we may not have technical expertise on future boards so we want to focus less on the maintenance and more on the content.

    Last year the board wrote technical specifications to define current and future needs. We are evaluating several hosted systems that can be used to run the NAGW website, process membership management, provide members-only content and conduct conference registration. We plan to make a decision by early summer and in the meantime we are inventorying existing content in preparation for migrating to the new system. When we cut over the membership and historical information there will need to be down time. We will keep everyone posted on the status.

     

    Maximize what you can Analyze

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 4 • Summer 2018

    by Olivia Davis

    What you want

    Google Analytics offers great information about how visitors use your website. These insights include page visits, times of page hits, devices visitors use and many others.

    However, let’s say you want more. Which documents do visitors download? How often do they complete forms? How long do they watch videos? You need Google Tag Manager.

    How to make it happen

    Google Tag Manager integrates with Google Analytics to display data from events like document downloads, form completions and video plays in one location. You need to follow a few additional steps to get started with Google Tag Manager.

    Enter the Google Analytics tracking ID

    What you need

    • Google Analytics implemented on your site (have the tracking ID on hand)
    • Access to the section of every page on your site*
    • Access to the section of every page on your site*

    * You can usually find both sections in your site template(s).

    What to do

    Install Google Tag Manager

    1. Go to Google Tag Manager.
    2. Follow instructions to create an account.
      Create account in Google Tag Manager
       
    3. Using the vertical ellipses in the top right corner, select Create Container and follow instructions.
      Create new user defined variable
    4. Enter the given code snippets in the appropriate sections of your site.
      Variable configuration

    Connect to Google Analytics

    1. Once inside your Google Tag Manager container, select Variables on the left.
      Variable types in Google Tag Manager
       
    2. Scroll to the bottom to create a new user-defined variable.
      Create new user defined variable
       
    3. Name the variable GA Property.
      Variable types in Google Tag Manager
       
    4. Click on the Variable Configuration box to edit.
      Variable configuration
       
    5. Under Choose variable type > Utilities, select Google Analytics Settings.

    6. Enter your Google Analytics tracking ID.
      Enter the Google Analytics tracking ID
       
    7. Click Save.

    Explore!

    Use resources like the Google Tag Manager handout to learn more about how you can leverage Google Tag Manager.

     

    Civic technology: How your City/County can use Amazon Alexa to engage audiences

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 4 • Summer 2018

    by Jennifer Chapman

    The City of Johns Creek logo and an Amazon Alexa deviceFrom playing your favorite songs to providing step-by-step recipe instructions, Amazon Alexa performs a variety of functions for its users – but did you know it can be a transparency tool as well?

    The City of Johns Creek, Georgia, decided to leverage the virtual assistant technology to launch its own Amazon Alexa “skill” in an effort to enhance the accessibility of the City’s open data portal, the DataHub. The DataHub portal holds large amounts of City-generated data like code compliance information, building permits, fire and police data, and more.

    Johns Creek is the first City in the world to use open data with Amazon Alexa, which pulls info from the City website and DataHub to answer users’ questions.

    For example, Alexa users can request, “Alexa, ask the City of Johns Creek when the next City Council meeting is scheduled,” and the virtual assistant will reply with the meeting date, time and location.

    Amazon Alexa users can download the City of Johns Creek “skill,” which can answer questions about available jobs, the City event and meeting calendar, in addition to data-related questions.

    From Web Professional to Certified Government Digital Services Professional

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 4 • Summer 2018

    by Barbara Belli

    Class sessions are complete. Homework assignments have been turned in and completed online. The final project – the Capstone – has been written, rewritten, proofread, and turned in. The virtual tassel on the graduation cap has been moved to the left for the inaugural class of the Certified Government Digital Services Professional (CGDSP) certification program.

    When NAGW sat down with Public Technology Institute in 2015 to talk about a certification program partnership, the possibility of career advancement in the government web profession was put into motion.

    We’re More Than a Webmaster

    Depending on which definition you look up, the position of webmaster has grown by leaps and bounds. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines it as:

    webmaster
    noun, often capitalized web·mas·ter ?web-?ma-st?r
    a person responsible for the creation or maintenance of a website especially for a company or organization

    We know from our experiences as web and IT professionals that our jobs encompass more than just managing our respective government websites. Managing social media, ensuring that our websites are ADA compliant, writing website usage policies…the list goes on. We do a lot more than meets the eye.

     

    Inspecting Elements with Chrome Developer Tools

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 4 • Summer 2018

    What To See And Do In Pittsburgh

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 3 • Spring 2018

    Pittsburgh, the second largest city in Pennsylvania, is known not only as Steel City for is history with the steel production industry and its more that 300 steel-related current businesses, it’s also called the City of Bridges – there are 446 of them. We’re not suggesting you visit them all but there are a few that stand out and are worth seeing. (Check out some of Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation’s the self-guided walks).

    Pittsburgh has plenty of attractions for every taste, whether you’re a sports fan, arts enthusiast or history buff.

    The north side is home to many popular sites for visitors including the Carnegie Science CenterNational AviaryChildren's Museum of Pittsburgh (fun for all ages!), the Allegheny Observatory (this website could use some help), and the Andy Warhol Museum, dedicated entirely to the city’s native son.

    The south side area boasts East Carson Street, once the heart of Pittsburgh’s steel-working neighborhood, it features 15 blocks of Victorian architecture and was designated a National Historic District. There are plenty of funky and colorful boutiques, a variety of restaurants, art galleries, theater and live music venues – all within walking distance of one another.

    Northeast of the central business district is the Strip District – another hip and trendy area of town. Also located here is the Heinz History Center with its eclectic collection of cultural artifacts and is home to the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum.

    The east end’s many attractions include the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG AquariumSchenley Park which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district, and Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

    On the west end, be sure to visit Mt. Washington, with its famous view of the downtown skyline. Take the Monongahela or Duquesne incline, funiculars that climb the hill to lookouts like Grandview Overlook.

    And then there are the sports venues: PPPaints Arena Heinz Field and PNC Park.

    The above is just a small sampling of the Steel City’s attractions. Find plenty more by visiting www.visitpittsburgh.com.

     

    The Least Sexy Advice You’ll Get Today

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 3 • Spring 2018

    by A.J. Van Beest

    What if I told you just two things can solve most of your cybersecurity problems? (Cue “The Matrix” soundtrack.)

    Cybersecurity is a deep and complex problem, but at its core, it’s about two things: Reducing the number of ways you can be attacked, and recovering after an attack. The rest is just riffing on those themes.

    WARNING: None of this is new info. None of it is flashy. It is, however, solid gold. Do these things, and you’ll sleep better at night.  

    Step one: Patch All The Things

    Patch every digital device that you’re responsible for, as much as you are able. Patch the firmware, the operating system, and the applications and services. Oftentimes, this is as easy as “Apply Windows updates” or “sudo apt-get upgrade -y.”

    Do this for your web server. Do it for your CMS. Do it for your workstation, your phone, your smartbulbs… You get the picture.

    Applying these patches fixes outstanding security vulnerabilities and improves performance, and it’s the single best security return on your investment of time and energy.

    One caveat here: Sometimes you can’t patch things, for whatever reason (say, because a vendor for a mission-critical thing requires you to run Java 6.23 (I’m looking at you, State of Wisconsin)). That’s when you need a compensating control (a firewall, in-depth monitoring of a specific process, an application whitelist, etc.) in place. More about that another time.  

    Step two: Backup All The Things

    When disaster strikes despite our best preventative efforts, we need to have an easy, reliable way to recover and resume operations. Enter backups.

    To that end, we need to have solid backups of all our mission-critical stuff. Is your website important to your organization? Back up that CMS and your data. And backup the whole server while you’re at it (a snapshot of a VM is ideal here). Do you need the contacts and other data on your phone to *be there* when you need it? Better back it up, too.

    With good backups (especially good *off-site* backups!), when the worst happens to your systems, it’s a matter of a couple hours to move your backups into place, restore your production environment, and get rolling again. Without solid backups, you may be down for days or weeks, depending on the complexity of your environment, your documentation, the availability of other critical team members, etc.

    Just two things

    That’s it: Just patch and backup. Do those, and you’re eighty percent of the way to cybersecurity nirvana. Okay, maybe not *nirvana* but you’ll definitely have a better chance of avoiding those late-night “everything is on fire” phone calls.

    Tell Your Story With Instagram Stories

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 3 • Spring 2018

    Have you hopped on the Instagram Stories bandwagon yet? It’s a Snapchat-like feature that lets users create sequences of photos and videos that expire after 24 hours. They can also be saved to your profile as a highlight.

    More than 250 million people are using Instagram Stories slideshow-like feature daily so how can governments use this fast-growing platform?

    Here are a few ideas to get you started and engaged with your audience:

    Go Live with Instagram Stories

    Similar to Facebook’s Live feature, go live on Instagram! Go live at a local festival or hold a quick Q&A with an elected official. Instagram Stories is also great for behind-the-scene tours of a grand opening of a new park or government building. Showcase what your government is doing.

    Capture your community

    What’s going on in your community? Create your Instagram Story slideshow of images or graphics that promote your government’s next big event – give your viewers something to look forward to. Is it snowing outside City Hall? Snap some photos or take video and upload it to your Story!

    Graphics

    If you’re lacking on eye-catching photos, try using some of the built-in emoji and sticker features to add to your image.  If you have more time, try creating some graphics with Adobe Spark (For Creative Cloud users, sign in with your Adobe ID) and use the templates provided for Instagram Stories.

    Have fun with it – tell your story!

    Open Data -- Now More Important Than Ever

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 3 • Spring 2018

    Most of you are probably aware that the current federal government administration is not focusing on open data as much as the previous administration. With the federal government stepping away as the leaders in this area it is now more important then ever for the state and local governments to continue to advance their open data initiatives! To drive home why this is important let’s review some of the many reasons why open data is important:

    • Government participation by our constituents
    • Self-empowerment for our constituents
    • Government transparency and increased trust in government
    • Metrics and impact measurement on policies, regulations, etc.
    • Innovation through the apps and services developed with the data released
    • Improved efficiency and effectiveness of government

     

    Don’t give up on your open data initiative and make use of the collective knowledge of your NAGW peers if you have questions. Many of our agencies are at varying levels of open data adoption and someone is either where you are now or just beyond where you are and can give you advice on next steps.

    Open data is information. By providing information you are proving to your constituents that you are committed to transparency and improving the services you offer to your community.

    Additional Resources 

    NAGW Webinar Archive

     

    Policy Resources 

     

    How to Capture Metrics on Registered Domain Names

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 3 • Spring 2018

    Getting Certified: Introducing The Certified Government Digital Services Professional Program

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 2 • Fall 2017

    The 2015 NAGW National Conference in Albuquerque saw the genesis of a great idea. Following his keynote speech at the conference, Executive Director and CEO of the Public Technology Institute Dr. Alan Shark proposed a unique partnership between NAGW and PTI during a conversation with board members. Why not create a certification program specifically for government web professionals?

    Fast forward to the 2017 NAGW National Conference in San Diego, California. The inaugural class of the Certified Government Digital Services Professional (CGDSP) program commenced. The first module took place September 19 and the course will continue with 10 modules on subjects ranging from web and app management, to leadership and governance, to crisis management.

    The graduation ceremony for the CGDSP Class of 2018 will take place at the 2018 NAGW National Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Class of 2019 will also commence in Pittsburgh.

    For more information about the Certified Government Digital Services Professional program, visit https://nagw.org/certification.

     

    The Importance Of Running An HTTPS Website

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 2 • Fall 2017

    Today, it is more important than ever for your websites to be accessible via HTTPS.

    HTTPS Everywhere banner

    HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure and it is a method for encrypting your website data and demonstrating that your website is authentic. HTTPS uses the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to provide data encryption and a safe tunnel between the visitor’s browser and the website server.

    With so many hacks and data compromises making the news, you want your visitors to trust that they have made it to your official site and that interactions with your website are secure. In the days to come, non-HTTPS content will become harder to access because web browsers now prevent mixed content from displaying. For example, if you try to embed an HTTP website within an HTTPS website using an iframe, web browsers will block the content from displaying.

    To ensure you are using HTTPS instead of HTTP, you need to install a security certificate on your web server. You can purchase a security certificate at around $200/year or you can use a free service such as Let’s Encrypt.

    This is such an important issue and we want you to become the champion of running an HTTPS website in your organization. Talk to your IT department, your website hosting vendors, and your cloud-hosted web application vendors and tell them you want to switch your website to HTTPS. You should also add this as a standard requirement for your request for proposals and software contracts.

    Together we can encrypt the web and make it a more secure experience for everyone!

    Reference Links

    Fishing For Followers With Smart Social Media Clickbait

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 2 • Fall 2017

    By Bryan Bullock

    Most governments use social media to raise awareness about their organization’s news, programs and services. This is a great use of the medium, but it’s important to diversify your content strategy if you really want to get your key messages out to the masses. You need followers to see your posts, and sharing one dry news release after another will likely do little to drive engagement or win new followers.

    You need some “clickbait” in your social media content strategy – posts that you can regularly count on to drive engagement and grow your accounts. It’s best if your clickbait aligns with your broader social media and organizational communication strategy. Sprinkle this engaging content in your normal post mix and you’ve got a recipe for social media success.

    Here are few ideas for smart clickbait for governments:

    Throwback Thursdays

    Your local library or historical society likely has a wealth of old photos of your community, which may even be accessible online. People love seeing old photos, so try sharing some on social media with attribution. It’s always best when you can use an image to tell a story about your community – especially if the government is a character in that story, like the creation of an important landmark. Here’s a #TBT example from the City of Boulder.

    Community photos

    Sharing compelling photos of your community is a great way to drive engagement and help build a sense of community. You can start by sharing photos you already have access to – like staff photos over the years – but it’s even better to share images taken by community members. Photo contests are a great way to solicit images – fall photos are hit this time of year. If you don’t already have one, an Instagram account is a great way to solicit photos and you can share the images across all your social media accounts, which is what the City of Boulder does.

    GIFs

    When used sparingly and appropriately, animated GIFs can be very effective for grabbing attention. It’s best if you create your own GIFs, which can be done quickly and easily with Giphy’s GIF Maker. You’ll have more creative control if you make GIFs in Photoshop. You’ll want a short, engaging video clip to create the GIF or you can add animation to an image. Here’s an example of how the City of Boulder used a GIF to draw attention to bear safety.

    And more

    This list is just the tip of the iceberg. Get creative and come up with fun ways to spice up your social media feed – which is sure to keep followers engaged so they actually pay attention when you do have a critical message to share.

    Open Data: The Hard Lessons

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 2 • Fall 2017

    By Ron Pringle

    The City of Boulder has been running an Open Data program for about four years now. In that time, we’ve had ups and downs, pursued things that ended up being dead ends and in some cases found paths to success. Based on our experience I’d like to highlight a few things that have and haven’t worked for us.

    Write a policy – We started without a policy and thought that if we built up enough momentum and shared successful case studies, the advantages of publishing open data would be magically obvious to everyone. They weren't. We eventually ran into roadblocks of the “you can’t make us” and the “we’re too busy” variety. Make open data a part of your culture by adopting a policy. Policies have political support. You need that.

    Build it and they will come – It’s 2017, you can’t just publish data and call it a day. While you might get lucky and have a vibrant community who instantly uses your data in wonderful, meaningful ways, chances are you won’t. Either way, you need to provide inspiration. We’ve done that by adding Areas of Inquiry which provide some possible starting points for working with the datasets in our catalog.

    Don’t overlook automation – The more you can automate the intake and publication of datasets the more sustainable your program will be. Don’t underestimate how hard Extract/Transform/Load (ETL) work can be and make sure you have the capacity to do the work. In our case, we piloted various ETL strategies but have still run into bottlenecks due to staff turnover or lack of availability due to other projects.

    Create an open data handbook – Our handbook is geared towards our departmental data stewards who are responsible for inventorying and submitting data for publication. The handbook walks them through that entire process. Like all documentation, don’t assume they’ll read it or refer to it. Reinforce the handbook with group sessions and individual hands-on training if needed. It can be labor-intensive but having trained, knowledgeable staff closer to the departments doing this work is invaluable.

    We continue to learn and refine our processes and approach to open data at the City of Boulder. If you want further insights or just need someone to discuss open data with, contact me!

     

    How to Setup Website Monitoring

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 2 • Fall 2017

    You Should Apply!

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 1 • Summer 2017

    Have you ever wanted to become more involved with NAGW and help lead the organization? Starting on Monday, July 3 the board of directors will be seeking nominations for the 2017 election. Serving on the board of directors is truly a labor of love. We work hard but we also play hard. Our fellow board members past and present feel like an extended family. Board member positions are a two-year term starting on Nov 1 in the year you are elected. Board members are expected to do the following:

    • Maintain your NAGW membership
    • Participate in conference call meetings (one to two hours every two weeks—currently scheduled on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. CST)
    • Attend two formal meetings every year at conference site (one pre-conference planning session and one at the NAGW annual conference)
    • Work on tasks relating to NAGW business, usually as a member of at least two committees
    • Attend the annual NAGW Conference (no conference registration charge for Board members)

    Checkout the NAGW Board of Directors brochure >>

    The majority of our board members will be seeking reelection in 2017 however our current South Region Director, Alicia Brown, will not be seeking reelection. If you are located in the South Region please consider applying.

     

    #NAGW2017 Security Spotlight

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 1 • Summer 2017

    "Report: Ransom Demanded After Newark Computers Hacked”

    “‘We Hacked Aberdeen City Council Website in Response to Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban’”

    “FBI website hacked by CyberZeist and data leaked online”

    As cyber threats become not only more numerous but more sophisticated and creative, are you doing everything you can to make sure your city or agency isn’t next? Two of our #NAGW2017 conference speakers are offering informative sessions which may help you avoid the headlines by keeping your sites secure.

    AJ Van BeestAJ Van Beest will provide an intensive four-hour pre-conference session focusing on cyber security. You’ll learn how to probe your business and code logic and analyze your defenses. A J will also show you examples of real-life attacks. All of this invaluable information will arm you with the knowledge and tools needed to make your own website harder, better, faster, stronger.

    AJ is a vulnerability assessment and management specialist and member of one of Wisconsin’s State, Local Tribal and Territorial (SLTT) Cyber Response Teams which teach government agencies how to avoid, prevent and respond to cyber attacks or threats. Response teams also help communities recover quickly and effectively when they’ve been affected by a cyber incident.

    Tony PerezTony Perez is Co-Founder and CEO of popular website security platform Sucuri. Tony’s #NAGW2017 session will take a close look at how political events may prompt attacks against government websites, as well as hacktavism movements which are becoming a mainstream force, compelling organizations and companies to face not only critical security challenges, but also political ramifications from disclosed information.

    Tony’s session will explore recent attacks on government agencies and will look closely not just at specific threats but also the psychology of the attackers.

    Why You Should Use Snapchat For Your Agency

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 1 • Summer 2017

    Many local governments have adopted social media as a means of communicating with constituents, increasing citizen engagement and enhancing transparency. While apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have attained great popularity in government use, government organizations are much more hesitant about using other, newer social media platforms.

    Not so the City of Santa Clarita, California.

    Irish Festival in Snapchat“We are always looking for new ways to engage our citizens with technology,” said Frankie Rios, Santa Clarita’s Web Developer and NAGW West Region Director. “Our social media team is great about adopting new trends to reach our younger audiences – teens, high school and college students, etc. – and for about two years now, we’ve been having great success with Snapchat.”

    Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to capture images and video to share as “moments” with friends.

    “Snapchat posts or ‘Snaps’ are best described as moments because you’re sending photo or video messages immediately after taking them but they will disappear from the recipient’s inbox in 10 seconds or less after they’re opened,” said Frankie. “Unlike Facebook or Instagram, where you can upload images that have been in your camera roll for a long time, you can assume that a Snap from a friend is going to be a quick, personal glimpse into a moment they have chosen to share with you as they are experiencing it.”

    Snapchat’s unique ability to share moments is complimented by another feature of the app that Santa Clarita enjoys using – Geofilters, or special overlays for Snaps that can only be accessed in certain locations.

    “When sharing a moment on Snapchat, your picture or video can be accompanied by a filter that acts as a picture frame,” said Frankie.

    The filters are fun graphics that illustrate anything from a restaurant, city name, or an event -- their form and design will be based on a user’s phone’s GPS location, so the filters one sees in Santa Clarita will differ from those users will see elsewhere.

    “For a reasonable fee, Snapchat gives us the ability to design our own Geofilters for events we hold throughout the city,” said Frankie. “Our Snapchat users love discovering new Geofilters at all of our events and they use them to decorate the moments they share with their friends. Not only do Geofilters give our events more publicity, they also provide a sense of innovation and attention to detail that our citizens appreciate about their city.”

    Some examples of Santa Clarita’s filters with their associated costs are provided below.

    Snap chat filter example

    “In the first example, we created a custom filter in Photoshop and had it cover 47,685 Sq Ft for 3 hours. Total cost was $5.00,” said Frankie. “In the second example, we had our filter cover 331,541 Sq Ft for 33 hours. Total cost was $101.78.”

    Snapchat’s increasing popularity has been documented in Snap Inc.’s initial public offering prospectus (February 2017), showing that 158 million people use the platform daily and 85% of users are between the ages of 18 and 34.

    Santa Clarita is one of few governments who were early adopters of the app – other government organizations are more hesitant in using the technology, primarily because of archiving and FOIA issues.

    “The temporary nature of Snaps can be a concern for governments because we’re required to keep a record of the content that we produce, and Snapchat Snaps are no exception,” said Frankie. “Luckily, Snapchat has been very compliant when it comes to records requests.”

    Santa Clarita Cowboy FilterSnapchat retains all Snaps for 30 days, after which they are deleted. However, an agency may put in a preservation request with the company.

    “If you’d rather not go through the process of making requests with Snapchat, there is an easier way to preserve your own content for as long as you’d like by saving it to your ‘Memories,’” said Frankie.

    Snapchat’s “Memories” feature is a searchable and shareable archive of Snaps that is accessible from the app. “Memories” backs up Snaps to Snapchat's servers and automatically categorizes users’ saved snaps according to location.

    “In the case of governments, I would suggest that all Snapchat videos and images taken from the government account be saved to ‘Memories’ to comply with open public records requirements,” said Frankie. “I would also suggest that the content be purged from the account according to a specified retention schedule.” 

    Learn more about Snapchat’s legal process

    More information on Snapchat

     

    Geofilter Example One

    Click on the image to view a larger version of the geofilter.

    Geofilter Example 1

    Geofilter Example Two

    Click on the image to view a larger version of the geofilter.

    Geofilter Example Two

    Government agencies to follow on Snapchat

    Below are a few government agencies on Snapchat -- to follow them, install Snapchat and enter each username. Source: Girardin, Lauren (2016, February 24). Snapchat for Government: The Basics

    • America’s Navy (americas_navy)
    • Be Ready Utah (bereadyutah)
    • City of Evanston, IL (cityofevanston)
    • City of Las Vegas, NV (cityoflasvegas)
    • Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship, UK (csfasttrack)
    • Corporation for National and Community Service (nationalservice)
    • Coventry, CT Recreation (covparksrec)
    • Department of State (statedept)
    • Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (myfwc)
    • French Government (gouvernementfr)
    • Hamilton County Public Health, Ohio (hamcohealth)
    • Hawthorne, CA Police (hawthornepolice)
    • House Republicans (housegop)
    • Provo City, UT (provocity)
    • Texas State Parks (TxParksWildlife)
    • UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (ukforeignoffice)
    • U.S. Department of the Interior (usinterior)
    • The White House (whitehouse)

     

    UPDATE: "Snap Maps"

    Snap Maps is a new Snapchat feature that was launched last week. The Snap Map gives the user the ability to turn their location on and share it with friends. In the app, you can open a virtual map that will show avatars of all your friends who are sharing their location. Privacy concerns naturally come to mind because the app will update your location for all of your friends to see each time you open it. It is clear that this feature has the potential to aid stalking, lurking, and other dangerous situations, but there are pretty easy ways to prevent your location being known: 
    • The feature is opt-in, meaning that you have to choose to share your location, it won't just share without your knowledge. 
    • Your location can only be shared with your Snapchat friends list and is not available to all of the public. You will also receive notifications periodically reminding you that your location is being shared to make sure you are still comfortable with it. 
    • And lastly, if you have shared your location, and would like to turn it off, you can easily activate "Ghost Mode". 
    Of course, it is suggested that all agencies using Snapchat keep their profiles in "Ghost Mode" so the employees moderating the account aren't broadcasting their location to their ever-growing list of followers.

    Open Data Starts With Community!

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 1 • Summer 2017

    By Suzy Christophersen

    I wanted to get a conversation about open data going in my organization, without yet another committee. After some research, I came across the term “community of interest” and it resonated with me. What's a community of interest? It's a group of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in the topic by interacting on an ongoing basis.

    Excited about bringing together a community, I reached out to the GIS experts in my organization and asked if they would be interested in getting together to geek out on data. They were! No government group is complete without an acronym so DataCOIN, our open data community of interest was born.

    Together we dreamed about what DataCOIN should be.  The group quickly narrowed in on a few goals, the most agreed upon being to get an open data policy in place. First we defined what open data means to our organization and assessed the current state. Next we drafted two policies and gained consensus (“I can live with it and support it”) in a group of 20+ people, before we came up with our final simplified open data policy which became policy in July 2016.

    The moral of this story? You don’t need to be a expert to start a community in your organization.   It’s up to you to connect the dots -- don’t wait around for someone else to take the lead in building a data-centric culture! A community of interest is a great way to connect with people across silos (like an internal Meetup group) whatever the topic. Don’t know where to start?  Let’s chat via the NAGW listserv or on the government-only DataCOIN Slack channel by going to datacoin.xyz

     

    How to use the Match Font Tool in Photoshop

    NAGW Navigator: Volume 1 • Issue 1 • Summer 2017