Thursday, February 14, 2019

Chatbots vs. RPA vs. Virtual Assistants

Improving customer service is an imperative for governments at all levels as evidenced by the goals of the President’s Management Agenda and the National Association of State Chief Information Officer’s top 10 priorities list for 2019. To do it, more agencies are turning to emerging tools such as chatbots, virtual assistants and robotic process automation (RPA).

So what's the difference and how are agencies using the new technologies?

See more at gcn.com

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Hot wheels: Today’s adult tricycles are low, sleek, speedy, and finding a larger fan base

With sweat beading on a hot August morning, Howard Quinn of Catonsville paced the pavement at Mt. Airy Bicycles in Carroll County, Md., studying recumbent tricycles that he and his grandson, Freddy, could share. After neck surgery, Quinn tires quickly on a bike, and the boy has trouble balancing on a two-wheeler.

“It’s in first gear,” Tom Hill told Freddy, situating him on a seven-gear Delta model priced at $1,399. “Here’s your hand brake.” He sounded like a salesman, but Hill, 61, of Damascus in Montgomery County, doesn’t work at the shop. He’s a customer — a frequent customer, having bought three trikes in nine years after undergoing back surgery.

See more at washingtonpost.com

Patients facing serious illnesses, chronic diseases find benefit in working out together

The group of about 10 women kept inching toward the door, but then the topic would change, and they’d pause to hash it out. The Life with Cancer circuit training class at the Life with Cancer Family Center in Fairfax, in which they’d squatted, curled and stretched had ended 15 minutes ago, but the socializing afterward seemed just as essential to their well-being.

“I call it parking lot counseling,” said Debra Banning, an Annandale resident who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.” We would walk out together, and we’d share our stories and help each other and talk it out. I wasn’t one to go in and have talking groups, so this is like an oasis.”

See more at washingtonpost.com

How data centers power Virginia's Loudoun County

With 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic passing through the 10 million square feet of data centers situated in Loudoun County, it’s tempting to say that they put the Northern Virginia district on the map. But Buddy Rizer, executive director of the county’s Economic Development Department, might give AOL credit for that.

See more at gcn.com

Friday, September 21, 2018

Empathy, patience and more — when kids visit assisted-living facilities, everyone benefits

“It’s your turn. Try to get a strike — but I’m winning,” my 6-year-old son, Jared, told a resident of the memory care unit at Sunrise at George Mason, an assisted-living facility in Fairfax.

She rolled the plastic bowling ball. All the pins fell. She smiled. Not one to lose gracefully, Jared mumbled, “Good job,” and flopped onto an ottoman to sulk while his friends Brice Bartley Jr., 10, and Marilyn Bartley, 8, set up the pins again.

Nearby, my daughter, Ellie, 8, giggled as she tossed a balloon to our favorite resident: my mom, Loraine Collins, 83, who has lived in the unit known as Reminiscence for two years.

This was a typical scene on Thursdays this summer when my kids and a revolving handful of their friends, ages 2 to 10, visited as volunteers, part of Sunrise Senior Living’s Intergenerational Program to encourage engagement between the elderly and youngsters. The children made bead bracelets, played ring toss and generally entertained the 20 or so residents who have cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

See more at washingtonpost.com

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Adventure After Adventure: Locals Guide to Loudoun County

Not so long ago, going 30 miles outside Washington, D.C., to Loudoun County was akin to making a day trip. Now, there are tons of reasons to make the drive – and take the kiddos. Named after John Campbell, the fourth earl of Loudoun, a Scottish nobleman and titular governor of Virginia from 1756-1759, the area started being settled in the late 1720s. A center of agriculture for more than 200 years, the arrival of Dulles International Airport in the 1960s initiated a transformation of the county by attracting businesses and residents. Today, about 330,000 people live in the 520-square-mile county, which is one of the country’s wealthiest. Check out the latest developments or let loose in the great outdoors.

See more at redtri.com

Neighborhood Guide: All Day in Arlington

Just a short drive over the bridge – or a few bridges, depending on where you’re headed – sits Arlington, Va. Founded in 1801, Arlington has grown into a bustling urban area in its own right. With most of the action huddled around Metro stops on the Blue and Orange lines, some of the most densely packed and walkable areas are in the Ballston-Clarendon-Rosslyn corridor. Its 25.98 square miles are full of family-friendly activities, educational experiences and history. Here are some not to miss.

See more at redtri.com