Get Your Gov On – Right Now, Real-Time

Original post by guest author Dave McClure, Associate Administrator, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, U.S. General Services Administration, on GovDelivery’s Reach the Public blog.

We live our lives in real time and the government is moving to respond, react, and communicate with the public in more open and agile ways. Often, however, we find that the information is coming out from government from many different agencies and offices at the same time. USA.gov is “Government Made Easy,” and we’ve just added a Notifications Sign Up Site and Real-Time Search capability that makes it easier to see the most current government information coming out and to sign up for ongoing updates via email or text messages pushed directly to personal computers or mobile devices.

The new Notifications site menu provides a live stream of content updates with a Twitter-like search capability where you can see the federal government’s most recent notifications and alerts on a wide range of topics, as well as a filterable view of these updates and subscriptions available across federal government.

Any visitor to the site can use it in two ways:

  1. Use the Real-Time Search functionality to lookup current topics such as hurricanes, obesity, egg recall, open government, or whatever is of value and interest to you
  2. Signup to receive highly-personalized and specific information from across any of the participating federal agencies.

Notifications.USA.gov Search and Results

Real-time information streams and search capability is the cutting edge on the Internet today, and GSA is pleased to use this proven approach to enhance our ability to connect with citizens in real time and keep them in the loop based on their particular interests.

The site has already made a huge splash, with more than 7,000 updates covering 5,200 topics from 144 federal agencies and offices. Any federal agency can add its notifications to the site just by contacting GSA following the links on the dashboard.

Here’s just one example of how the Notifications site can reach out to those seeking more information. Let’s say someone wants to learn more about government response during hurricane season. They would simply go to the Notification web page (a single click on USA.gov web site), and type the word “hurricane” into our real-time search box. They would be brought to a page full of links to what a variety of agencies have recently posted about tropical storms and hurricanes. You will find quickly the latest news from agencies like FEMA, NWS, EPA, FBI and the CDC.

With a page of pertinent links at their fingertips, the user can click on links that interest them, read a synopsis of the content, and access the full story (or press release) if desired. The really cool part is this – if someone wants to receive more information on a topic as it becomes available, they can sign up to get updates directly from the agency via email, SMS or RSS feed (depending on what the agency makes available). There’s also a quick-link list of hot topics to choose from on the home page.

No matter how you decide to receive updates, you won’t ever need to worry about being left out or uninformed.

Take a look for yourself at notifications.usa.gov, and try out some of the subscriptions. We at GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Technology Innovation also welcome your feedback on how we can make this site even more valuable to your needs.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Emily Compton Hellmuth

I just signed up for my first subscription! The site is very user-friendly. I am excited to have this fresh and convenient way to keep up-to-date on the latest government news and issues.

PS, Scott, thanks for sharing the Vanity Fair article. I think it brings up a good point- that in order to have success in the whole “Twitter”, notification approach you cannot forget that the underlying appeal is quick, informative, engaging, information. If the information seems too dry and automated it will lose the essence of what has made this kind of communication so viral.