Wednesday, January 18, 2017

VoxGov: A Veritable Goldmine of "Hidden" U.S. Goverment Insights and Trends

“Uncertainty” is the word which best describes the atmosphere in Washington, DC as the city prepares for the new administration. This uncertainty is driving traffic to  a relatively new product called  VoxGov.  The VoxGov website offers a treasure-trove of hidden government data and an alerting system for anyone trying to understand track  the statements and positions of government agencies and officials related to  any issue. At last count Voxgov contained over 26 million government documents.

VoxGov "Hacking" trends
The government information that lawyers normally rely upon such as statutes and regulations only represents about 10% of the VoxGov database. The vast majority of  government materials in VoxGov are collected from over 14,000 government websites. The document types include: Press Releases, News, Notices, Columns, Articles, Op-Eds, Decisions, Opinions, Orders, Events, Media Advisories, Fact Sheets, Newsletters, Bulletins, Recalls, Alerts, Reports, Publications, Speeches, Statements, Remarks, Testimony, and Transcripts, along with Social Media from official government sources, Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and more. VoxGov only collects information authored or adopted by the U.S. Federal Government and published  on official government websites .All of the data is enriched with extensive metadata which supports sophisticated filtering and trending.
Prescription Drug - Tracking

VoxGov is the brainchild of an Australian attorney Robert Dessau. After passing the New York State bar, Dessau  built a successful consulting business working with Australian technology companies seeking U.S. market entry. During this time he recognized the difficulty of accessing valuable information  generated by agencies of the U.S. Government. Based on this overwhelming need, Dessau has been dedicated to building and developing the back-end systems and know-how for the VoxGov platform that exists today.

Dessau moved from collecting documents to analyzing trends and parsing the people, agencies, parties and issues stirring the pot of government advocacy and regulation. He built  a system for indexing and analyzing the reports and data produced by over 9,000 US  government sources. Today VoxGov also includes over 24 million social media posts. . Even though the US government has migrated much of their standard legislative and regulatory materials online the vast majority of government information remains hidden even though it is in digital format.

No You Can’t Google This Stuff. Years ago I heard Ralph Nader remark that US Government reports were a goldmine of data that no one wanted to read…. Their plain brown covers and austere typeface screamed “boring.”  Those were the bad old days before the digital revolution and for those of you who that thought all government data was just a google search away from your eyeballs….  Voxgov will show you just how wrong you are.  According to Dessau less than 1% of all government documents are available on the web. VoxGov's proprietary technology visits over US government  14,600 web destinations on algorithmically generated intervals, in search of new documents published to any of these source sites.

Cybersecurity- related terms, people agencies
The Trump Effect  In recent weeks Voxgov’s phones have been ringing “off the hook.” The Voxgov  team has fielded requests from  a wide variety of stakeholders needing to glean some insights into the new administration. Inquiries include: A  city facing a budget crisis if federal funding to Sanctuary Cities is withdrawn;  A bank reading contradictory indicators on economic policy under the next administration;  A pharmaceutical group preparing to navigate a new legislative and regulatory environment.   According to Dessau, people are turning to Voxgov to address  a common need  “for the ability to telescope into who in is saying what on relevant and pressing issues in government." 

What Do You Need to Know? VoxGov allows  users to analyze material generated by government reports on any topic and to visualize the information using timelines graphs and word clouds. 

·         All of the data updates every 15 to 30 minutes.

·         There is live trending of the most active issues in the past 24 hours.

·         Measurement of tone of social commentary

·         Everything in the system can be shared legally because it is all public domain

Key Functions: 

  • All branches of government
  • 9,000+ Sources
  • ~20K News Docs Daily
  • Updated 24x7
  • 50+ Document Types

Analyze         Extensive use of data tagging and patented filtering technologies provides unique views and insights including analysis trends over time

  •         Data visualizations
  •          52 Timeline Graphs
  •          Multi-year comparisons
  •         Extensive Document Tagging

Track       Keep up to date with   custom-built tools that enable easy sharing of valuable information across teams and third parties.

  • ·         Custom Feeds
  • ·         Save Searches
  • ·         Receive Alerts
  • ·         Compile Folders
  • ·         Generate Reports

Trend         VoxGov highlights significant changes in issue activity levels coming from within the government conversation throughout the day.

  • ·         Multi-Point Trending
  • ·         75 Trending Options
  • ·         15 Minute Updates
  • ·         Rapid Drill-Down
  • ·         Frequency Monitor

Responsiveness to customer needs

Until now, VoxGov was primarily marketed to academic libraries. When Dessau asked me to evaluate the product for a law firm environment, I suggested that the alert features needed to be  “fine-tuned” in order to appeal to practicing lawyers who bill by the minute. Lawyers don’t want to be overwhelmed with results they want to see the most relevant materials first and they want to understand why a document is relevant to their interests. Within a few weeks, Dessau returned and had implemented  almost all the new features I had suggested including, sorting alert results  by relevance, highlighting relevant keywords in alerts, automatically deduping results ( now handled by grouping reissued documents under a single heading) , social media results are grouped separately from government releases. 

VoxGov is clearly a resource addressing the specialized need of lobbying and government affairs professional.  The product also offers unique materials for researchers and lawyers in any regulatory practice as well as a wide variety of litigation needs. Litigators can use government materials to locate experts, government studies and data to support or disputed facts as well as to pinpoint the timing of government actions. While the standard legal research systems, Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg BNA and Wolters Kluwer offer the  traditional primary sources for statutes and regulations, such as the US Code, the CFR, the Federal Register and the Congressional Records and Congressional Reports, none of them have taken on the development of an archive comparable to that amassed by VoxGov.

1 comment:

  1. some pricing information would be nice...