Wednesday, September 20

9 to 10:30 a.m. (Opening Keynote)

Creating Emotionally Engaging Places

Join Alliance for Innovation Senior Fellow Peter Kageyama for a session on creating emotionally engaging places.  Peter is the author of For the Love of Cities and the follow up, Love Where You Live.  Peter speaks about how community leaders need to be intentional about creating a more emotionally engaging, lovable place.  These lovable cities are magnets for talented workers, entrepreneurs and businesses alike.  Peter talks about the expanded role that local government needs to play in creating this atmosphere of engagement and the ways, both big and small, that the city can partner with citizens to build great places.

Location: Aventine DEF

11 a.m. to 12 noon (Sessions)

Google Analytics for Beginners

In the City of McKinney, we have collected metrics on our various website iterations for the past seven years. While not experts in Google Analytics, we have been able to use the information to make decisions about how to configure our websites, what residents want to see and to satisfy constituents throughout the city. The intent of this session is to share our experience in the hope that opening up our analytics collection and presentation practices might offer useful information for other cities.

Key Takeaways

  • Google Analytics can be a useful tool for making decisions about a website and resident interests
  • It isn't difficult, you just need to know where to go for the information
  • Keep reports simple with examples


Location: Aventine A

Troll Hunting 101

Anyone who works the social media pages for a government entity knows that trolls can be a way of life, but they don’t have to ruin your groove! This session will focus on strategic messaging on your social media outlets and how to deal with your inevitable detractors (beyond throwing your hands in the air and pushing the “delete" or "ban” buttons). You CAN choose fight over flight and banter over ban — and I’ll show you how to do it so that trolls can actually become a valuable piece of your social media ecosystem. Gather your facts, stretch out your fingers, put on a smile and let’s storm that bridge together! 

Key Takeaways

  • Not all trolls are the same; learn how to identify different varieties and handle them appropriately 
  • Facts & personality are a winning combination in social media discussions
  • Trolls can actually HELP you win over the rest of your audience; embrace the hater 
Location: Aventine B

Webmasters: The Modern-Day Town Criers

As modern-day Town Criers, the role of the Webmaster is constantly changing.  Today’s communicators must couple constantly evolving technologies with multiple communication channels, while keeping the message clear and informative.

While the totality of Moore's Law can be debated, there’s no debating the fact that modern day Town Criers have far more responsibility beyond gathering the locals and shouting in the Town Square.  The ease of social media has ushered in an era of excess. However, there is a fine line between informative and over communicating, as Webmasters find themselves competing with elected officials who often want to engage the same audience.
This entertaining and informative lecture will cover the past, present and future of government communications as it relates to those at the helm of stated communication channels.

Key Takeaways

  • Historical perspective of our profession
  • Creative and unique ways to reach target audience
  • Organization of content through the most efficient delivery mechanism(s)
Location: Aventine C

Open Data Successes (and Failures): Lessons from the Trenches

The City of Boulder has been "doing" open data for nearly four years. The open data program has had a number of ups and downs over those years and we've learned valuable lessons and insights from our successes and failures. In this session we'll be talking frankly and openly about what we've learned the hard way to help attendees avoid, or at least anticipate, the pitfalls open data practitioners routinely face when trying to "do" open data; and highlighting tested methods and practices to be successful. We'll talk about our recent experiences as a member of What Works Cities and how hiring a Chief Innnovation and Analytics Officer is helping us reach our goal of data-driven decision-making.

Key Takeaways

  • Key factors to a successful program;
  • Key failures and how to anticipate or avoid them;
  • How part-time work leads to part-time success (and part-time failure);
  • Insights from the What Works Cities process that anyone can use
Location: Palatine AB

1 to 2 p.m. (Sessions)

Little Big Time

Good Morning! Your understaffed, sleepy jurisdiction has become the focal point of a controversial national news story, overnight. Facebook messages are pouring in, your server is smoking, and you are trending on Twitter. You were ready for this, yeah? 

Travis County found itself in a hot spotlight this year when a viral picture of the county judge combined with the federal immigration enforcement (ICE) clash between the newly elected sheriff and the Texas governor. We were the lead story on NPR, CBS, Breitbart, and a number of other news outlets, and everything happened so fast all we could really do was hang on.

Key Takeaways

  • We’ll provide an actionable "gone viral" checklist that every government agency should implement BEFORE they need to
  • We'll talk about strategies for weathering this sort of event
  • We’ll confess to all the ways we screwed it up when it happened to us (and the few ways we didn’t.)
Location: Aventine B

DIY UX Testing

Many problems that come up after a new site or app launches could have been avoided with a few usability tests. Unfortunately, testing is often considered too expensive or as taking too long, but it doesn't have to be. There are simple and affordable tools that can be used to test websites, web apps, navigation, information architecture, and content. This session will review free and low-cost tools and methods for conducting tests and how and when to use them.

Key Takeaways

  • What to test - how to identify potential problem areas for testing.
  • When to test - picking the right time in a project to introduce testing.
  • How to test - tools and tips for testing quickly and inexpensively.
Location: Aventine C

Who Will Tend Your Garden

Innovation.  Nearly every conference is looking for presenters to share their innovative projects.  But what happens when the innovator leaves the jurisdiction or organization for which they created the project?  What happens when the funding dries up?  Quite often, the project or initiative dies on the vine.  For those who rely on these innovative projects, especially those in the communications arena, this can be devastating.  This session will explore the causes, effects, and recommendations for "watering your garden" to keep projects alive and thriving.

Key Takeaways

  • How to identify a project in danger of dying.
  • What "nutrients" to add to a project for built-in longevity.
  • How to tweak an existing project to keep it thriving long term.
Location: Palatine AB

2:15 to 3:15 p.m. (Sessions)

Make Releasing Data Meaningful

Ready to move beyond just releasing data! This session will help you build an approach that will make releasing data meaningful for your internal and external stakeholders. Sharing data in a meaningful way relies on having "good" data that is clean and timely, sharing context about the data, and ensuring that it connects with what is important to your audience (timeliness of accessing the information or about a emerging topic). This is about getting beyond just quantity, releasing lots of data, to figuring out how to releasing high quality, meaningful data. 

Key Takeaways

  • Tool for identifying data internally (share data inventory tool and how an inventory can help communications professionals)
  • Start simple and prototype (tips for identifying the stories you need to tell to the City Council, Executives, and/or public)
  • Engage outside your walls (examples of how to engage with tech audiences and general public around sharing data, these efforts will lead to conversations about service delivery, priorities, not just about the data)
Location: Aventine B

Testing for Accessibility

How do you test for accessibility compliance? There are many tools out there. During this session, I will outline the strategies and tools we use to make sure the content is accessible by all. I will also cover the template we use for reporting issues. 

Key Takeaways

  • Testing strategy
  • Automated and manual testing
  • Reporting template
Location: Aventine C

Snapchat 101: How to Communicate Government Information in the Land of Emojis

Snapchat is the hottest social media platform on the block and a tool that government communicators can't afford to ignore. Come learn the ins and outs of Snapchat and how to create an engaging presence on a platform dominated by millennials. Participants will leave this session armed with answers to questions about how government should communicate on Snapchat, how to develop a strong strategy and how to address accessibility and records management issues.

Key Takeaways

  • Participants will learn how to take content they already have and modify it to make it appropriate for the Snapchat platform. This will include tactics on how to make a potentially dry topic seem more engaging to a younger audience and how to use Snapchat "mascots" to make government Snapchat accounts more friendly.
  • Participants will leave the session with an understanding about how to formulate a Snapchat content strategy. This will include information about how frequently they should post on Snapchat and how to use emoijs in a way that makes sense and strengthens a message.
  • Participants will understand the ways they can store stories they create in Snapchat for use on other platforms and learn about ways to make their Snapchat content as accessible as possible. 
Location: Palatine AB

3:45 to 4:45 p.m. (Sessions)

Look who's TAWKing - using Tawk, an embedded web chat client, for citizen engagement

Join us as we review Larimer County's pilot of Tawk, a no cost solution for adding real time chat capabilities to our vehicle licensing page. The repetitive ring of 'Now Serving' is going the way of the Dodo as online solutions, such as TAWK, allow the citizens to connect with the County online and in real time. We review the tool, it's features and lessons learned in bringing it online.

Key Takeaways

  • Does real time chat have a home on your website?
  • Steps to spin up and test the Tawk chat solution with little effort and no cost
  • Tips and tricks used to aide staff in providing quick and accurate info to the citizens
Location: Aventine A

Using Digital Communications to Tell the Important Stories of your Agency

The U.S. Forest Service is mid-way through executing a communications plan for a statewide heritage project on public lands in Alaska. This plan introduced new digital communication channels to assist in delivering the most important stories to our audiences. In order for the plan to be a success, we had to decide on what platforms should be used for each piece of the “conversation” and how to successfully move traffic from one platform of content to another.
This thought provoking session will walk you through the process of determining what important information to share, how to drive interest and what additional opportunities occurred as a result of the campaign. You will leave the session equipped with the knowledge needed to use digital communications to tell your most important stories.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose digital and social platforms that will work best for you and your agency
  • Drive traffic and interest from one communications piece to another 
  • Create a complete “conversation” or story with the use of your digital platforms, including web, social, and apps
Location: Aventine B

Cyber Threats as They Pertain to Government Web Properties

The cyber threats are evolving at an exponential rate, making it difficult for organizations to keep up. Government websites are of special interest because of the platform it provides attackers - adversely affecting the communities they are designed to serve. We saw the impacts of this in 2014 with the riots in the City of Ferguson and the constant cyber attacks the city web properties faced, making accessibility impossible for multiple days. We've also seen the rise in hacktavism due to the unstable political landscape through actions like defacements, data breaches and malware distribution. In this talk we will look at the psychology of the attackers, and the specific threats that government properties face. We will explore recent cyber attacks, their affects and the lessons we've learned along the way. 

Key Takeaways

  • The presentation is designed to inform the audience, through education we can begin to take a more a proactive position against cyber threats. 
  • It will also provide insights into the challenges other peer organizations are facing so that better controls can be deployed. 
  • Lastly, it will provide insights into the defensive controls available to help thwart cyber attacks. 
Location: Aventine C

Section 508 Refresh: Understanding the New Requirements

Section 508 standards are federal acquisition requirements that apply to information and communications technology (ICT) that is used, developed, procured, maintained, or used by federal agencies. The standards promote ICT that can be accessed by the public and employees with disabilities. The current standards became effective 15 years ago and great effort has been made to update (or “refresh”) Section 508 to harmonize the standards with guidelines for Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act.
The final ruling for the Section 508 Refresh was published in the Federal Register in January 2017, with an effective date of one year after the publication date. The Section 508 Refresh will include a broad application of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, and many features that currently meet Section 508 requirements will no longer be compliant under WCAG 2.0.

Key Takeaways

  • The expected timeline and application requirements for the Section 508 Refresh
  • Key differences between the current Section 508 requirements and the new Refresh requirements
  • The necessary testing types and techniques to ensure compliance with the proposed requirements
Location: Aventine C

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