Google Expeditions App Featuring Virtual Tours Now Open to All

Google Expeditions App Featuring Virtual Tours Now Open to All

Google on Thursday rolled out its Expeditions app with a new solo mode for all users.

“Using this mode, they can explore over 600 different tours on their own. All that users need to do is download the Expeditions app (available on both Android and iOS), drop their phone into Google Cardboard and get ready for an adventure!” the company said in a statement.

For the past two years, the app was available only for teachers as a tool to extend learning inside the classroom, helping students to gain exposure to new career paths and learn about various social impact initiatives happening around the globe.

With the new update, users can either take these tours as an explorer or a guide.

As an ‘Explorer’, users can experience the tour on their own, where they can view more detailed information on various points of interest within the experience.

The ‘Guide Mode’ lets teachers preview a tour before embarking with their students on a virtual journey.

Expeditions also works on Daydream View VR headset-ready phones for more immersive and engaging experience.

[“source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Beyond open data: Insights through analytics

city analysis (Who is Danny/Shutterstock.com)

The federal government is taking big steps to share information and make data more free and open. Thanks to legislation like the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, agencies are now required to post standardized spending data on the USASpending.gov site. Other initiatives, like the Government Publishing Office’s GovInfo.gov, let citizens use full-text searching and metadata to sift through decades of digitized content. It seems as if we are entering a new chapter of open data. But what, exactly can governments do with this data on hand? How do citizens and public officials make the most of this unprecedented level of access to information?

Analytics are what allows government to use “data as a flashlight, not as a hammer,” according to “A Practical Guide to Analytics for Governments,” recently produced by the team at the SAS Institute and published by Wiley.

The book celebrates information sharing and the wide range of data available on the municipal level in particular — from smart streetlights that also collect info on pedestrian foot traffic to rail equipment outfitted with sensors so that repairs can be made as needed, rather than on a maintenance schedule. (An innovation that Washingtonians inconvenienced by D.C. Metro’s months of “SafeTrack” repairs might envy). Overlaying of municipal code enforcement and police activity data reveals unexpected correlations between property neglect and crime, and having studied algebra in high school is connected to markedly higher income achievement later in life.

“Armed with insights” from shared data, officials in Arizona’s Pinal County used the strength of analytics to more effectively understand already-existing health data in a way that would better protect the public from heat stroke. Investigators were surprised to discover that analytics revealed the highest threat of heat-related illness was not found among the elderly — as had been expected — but instead, among the young people of this Arizona community.

Small agencies can benefit from analytics as much as larger ones.  The book’s authors make the case that smaller cities may be best positioned to take advantage of technology advances because there is “less infrastructure to retrofit.” Since only 300 U.S. cities have populations that exceed 100,000, they add, the opportunities for data-driven innovation are substantial.

State-level open-data success stories are also hailed, most especially the example of  North Carolina, which “opened its 2017 budget for citizen scrutiny” with a new visual analytics tool.

But more important than making data itself available, the authors argue, is recognizing the challenge of melding data into analytics. After all, they assert, “typical government IT projects are built in a siloed approach,” which means that while agencies have torrents of data, often not a drop is shared. Teachers are not given the opportunity to proactively provide remedial attention to students. Police don’t have background information to help them approach a suspect with either greater caution or more compassion.  The book also looks at applications in transportation, public health, child welfare, prescription drug abuse, fraud prevention, and it methodically lays out both the depth of missed opportunities and the possibility of a brighter future.

As government at every level updates its IT assets, the book warns CIOs that “[a]cquiring technology for technology’s sake … rarely achieves the expected outcome.” Instead, the book makes the case that the emphasis should be on “building an analytics-driven government” and leveraging data to “build stronger analytics capabilities.”

“A Practical Guide to Analytics for Government” lives up to its title and concludes with a specific suggested solution. Establishing an official center of analytics, the authors write, can help agencies create a keen awareness of the importance of “building common competency … [that] enhances government analytic success through shared experience.”

Some cities have begun to work in that direction, and the City of Boston’s Citywide Analytics Team and the New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics are hailed for seeking “innovative ways to leverage data.”

Such efforts could even unite an otherwise polarized political community, the authors suggest, since “both Republicans and Democrats value opening the public’s business to citizens.” Indeed, they contend that during a time when the citizens increasingly distrust political leadership, “open data can . . . promote legitimacy.”

More importantly, though, the authors stress that governments at all levels should be “breaking down barriers to sharing and accessing information … to ensure frontline workers, management, and policymakers have the knowledge they need.”   After all, as Shawn P. McCarthy, research director of IDC Government Insights, is quoted as saying about this book, “in many ways, modern government is information.”

[“Source-gcn”]

Walmart Holds Open Call 2017, 500 Made in USA Companies Compete for Store Shelf Space

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

Recently, 500 companies — mostly small businesses and startups — went to Walmart (NYSE:WMT) company headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, to pitch their products to company buyers.

If they’re selected, they’ll get to sell their products at Walmart stores and on the retailers website. It could mean huge growth for those small companies. But there are challenges involved as well.

This is the fourth Open Call event Walmart has held.

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

This year, Walmart is specifically looking for American companies and is promoting American manufacturing. So companies that sell products that are made in America could have a good chance of getting their products placed in Walmart stores or even getting the opportunity to manufacture some of Walmart’s private label products.

Walmart Open Call 2017

Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart vice president for U.S. Sourcing and Manufacturing said in a statement, “While finding products our customers want is a year-round focus for our buying teams, Walmart’s annual Open Call is a special opportunity to connect our buyers with companies that are manufacturing products in the U.S. and to identify new and unique product solutions.”

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

American manufacturing has been experiencing a resurgence in some sectors. So this type of open call allows Walmart to potentially tap into some interesting new markets while also taking advantage of some of the positive public perception that often comes with supplying American-made products and supporting job growth and the U.S. economy.

But for the businesses in attendance, the opportunity could be even more significant.

Walmart is the world’s largest retailer. So getting products featured on store shelves or on Walmart.com could provide a huge sales boost.

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

And the significance of that opportunity was not lost on the small businesses in attendance, some of which went to extra lengths to put on a great presentation for their products.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

In fact, nearly 100 companies received deals on the spot. And dozens more will continue to have conversations with Walmart about future opportunities.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

The companies that receive deals from Walmart could also gain some local notoriety and extra coverage for their participation.

Walmart Open Call 2017 -- 500 Made in USA Companies Competing for Store Shelf Space

Overall, this type of event provides a unique opportunity for small businesses, many of which face major roadblocks in getting their products in front of large retailers or corporations.

Of course, this also means that those small businesses that receive deals will need to step up production in order to meet that increased demand. But for the businesses that can take on the extra work, it’s a potentially huge opportunity.

[“Source-smallbiztrends”]

HTC to Open Hundreds of Virtual Reality Arcades to Promote Vive VR Headset

HTC to Open Hundreds of Virtual Reality Arcades to Promote Vive VR HeadsetHTC to Open Hundreds of Virtual Reality Arcades to Promote Vive VR Headset
Taiwanese tech giant HTC will open hundreds of virtual reality gaming arcades in Taiwan, China, Europe and the US by end 2017 under its “Viveport Arcade” programme.

The company is developing virtual reality games for its VR devices and hopes the gaming arcades will serve to promote its virtual reality Vive headset, the Taipei Times reported Saturday.

The programme will begin in Taiwan and China and then be extended to the US and Europe at an unspecified date.

HTC is hoping to expand its Viveport programme to internet cafes, movie theatres and virtual reality centres by offering a wide range of games and experiences at affordable prices.
Last week, HTC opened a virtual reality centre called Viveland in Taipei, where the public can try its products without having to buy them first for a fee ranging from $5 to $13.

This year, HTC also teamed up with internet cafes in China to promote the use of virtual reality in the country.

The Taiwanese company, which has so far focused on developing and producing mobile phones, will compete with other manufacturers of virtual reality headsets in a still limited market.
Tags: HTC, HTC Vive, Vive VR, Virtual Reality, VR, Wearables, Virtual Reality Arcade

[“Source-Gadgets”]