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Search Tags: Meeting Mission and Goals through Technology
A new mobile app lets smartphone users instantly check to see whether any product on a store shelf has been recalled, and why. The new recalls.gov app lets users scan a product's UPC code with their phone's camera, then searches government databases to see if it's been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Food and Drug Administration or the Department of Agriculture. It's one of 18 new mobile government apps the General Services Administration is making available as part of the redesign of the USA.gov website.
The Labor Department is out with its very first smartphone app. It's designed to let anyone track the hours they work and the wages due to them. The idea, according to Labor is to let employees keep their own records, so they don't have to rely on their employers' systems. The department says that information can prove invaluable when it comes to disputes filed with the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division. For now, the app is for iPhone only, but Labor says they're exploring other devices.
The FCC and FEMA have teamed up with the wireless industry to create a new emergency warning system for mobile devices. The Personal Localized Alerting Network is designed to blast emergency messages to every mobile device in a geographic area -- regardless of where that phone came from or what network it's on. The nation's four largest wireless carriers are part of the effort, which will come online by the end of the year in New York City, and in the rest of the country by next spring.
The Census Bureau is experimenting with ways to collect data using the Internet. The bureau didn't use online data collection for the 2010 Census, but officials say they are already getting responses via the Internet for their ongoing American Community Survey. By the end of the year, they expect one million people to have responded to the ACS online, and many people are using mobile devices to respond to the survey. The Bureau plans to use what they learn to plan online efforts for the full 2020 Census.
The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development have decided to partner with the private sector to get basic health information to expectant mothers in developing countries. The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action will focus on delivering critical information to mothers in areas where mobile phones are plentiful, but health care access is scarce. The first round will focus on Bangladesh, South Africa and India. From there, they hope to build it into a global program.
The Army will turn to members of the public and industry to help it develop software more quickly. Their first Apps For Army challenge was open only to Army employees, but officials say the second round will tap into industry as part of the buildup to the forthcoming Army applications Marketplace. The Army says it wants to use the challenge to deliver new software capabilities in as little as 90 days, and generate applications that can be used on any platform -- whether mobile or desktop.
The US Department of Agriculture wanted to make food safety information available to people where and when they actually need it, like in the kitchen, at the barbecue grill or the grocery store. So they developed a web-based mobile application to answer some of the most common questions about preparing, handling and storing food. The app, which they're calling "Ask Karen," lets users search through a list of about 1,500 questions designed to help prevent foodborne illness. It's optimized for Android, iPhone and iPad devices, but will work with most mobile phones.
The Army plans to use video game technology to train soldiers to safely dispose of improvised explosive devices. The Army's Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey has received a patent for a virtualized environment that will train explosives disposal personnel to use robotic vehicles. The simulator is designed to precisely mimic the controls of the Talon robots the Army uses in theater, as well as the environments where IEDs tend to be found, like in sandbags or courtyards. The Army says it gives soldiers a chance to train safely in what would otherwise be a dangerous environment.
NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development have signed a five-year agreement that will put the space agency's data about the earth to work for USAID. The agency plans to use NASA imagery and other geospatial technologies to help developing countries solve challenges around issues like climate change, agriculture, disaster response and energy. The agreement builds on a joint program the two agencies have already been using to help forecast environmental changes that impact residents in Central America, East Africa and the Himalayas.
TRICARE, the military's managed healthcare system, is taking a step forward in letting its beneficiaries see their own health records online. The agency's "Blue Button" tool is getting an upgrade that now lets users see their lab results, patient history and diagnoses. The site already gave TRICARE users the ability to view their own allergy and medication profiles. TRICARE says they developed the system as a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The system already has more than 250,000 users.