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9/22/2010
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Obama Administration Adds Real Time Alerts To USA.Gov

Notifications.gov lets people receive text messages, e-mails, or RSS updates from federal agencies about topics of their choice.




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As part of its mission to use the web for better public engagement, the federal government has added the ability for people to receive real-time alerts about a range of topics via its public website, USA.gov.

Using a new Notifications page, people can search for topics of interest -- such as hurricanes and other natural disasters, product recalls, and health information -- and sign up to receive real-time alerts about them via the communication means of their choice.

Alerts are available via text message, email, and RSS feeds, including Google Reader, Bloglines, or My Yahoo.

There are more than 7,000 updates spanning 6,200 topics currently available through the service from 144 federal agencies and officials. Government agencies also can add their feeds to the notifications dashboard so people can get updates from them as well.

To find alerts they may be interested in, Notifications.gov has a general search feature. For instance, if a person types in "hurricane," he or she might receive search results from government agencies such as the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, or others that respond to or have information about perilous weather or storms.

The website was developed on a digital subscription management solution for automated and on-demand public communication systems from digital communications provider GovDelivery, according to the company.

The Obama administration has made a concerted effort to modernize USA.gov and make it more user friendly, launching major revisions in July that included adding a series of mobile applications that allow people to access information from the site on mobile devices.

Providing more access to government information and services is a key objective of the Open Government Directive, a mandate by the Obama administration to use technology for more public engagement and transparency.

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