Virginia Recognized for RSS Services

by Ray Matthews on November 21, 2004 at 10:36 PM

The State of Virginia was recently recognized by the Center for Digital Government with a third place ranking in the Best of the Web and Digital Government Achievement Awards. The recognition came largely for Virginia's new syndication and alert services.

In recognizing the honor Governor Mark Warner said, "Our real-time online live help customer service continues to set the pace for the nation, and the portal's desktop alerts via live RSS feeds ensure that users always have access to the most current information."

The VIPNet portal and its RSS feeds are managed by the Virginia Information Providers Network. There are currently at least 34 feeds. Virginia uses RSS feeds not only for alerts, but also for a monitoring service that keeps citizens informed of new resources and services added to the portal.

In addition to providing standard fare such as feeds for press releases, emergency notifications, and what's new, creates feeds for lists of topical services and resources. You can subscribe to forms, licenses and permits, information about visiting Virginia, business resources, and many other topics.

Any government or agency that creates Yahoo-style directory access to resources could use RSS feeds in the way that Virginia does. A neat side-benefit of streaming links in RSS is that it offers a built-in web--page monitoring service. Citizens using a news aggregator can subscribe to the page and be automatically notified when you've added new resources to the page. Neat!

The next step would be to create a search of the directory and have that search create RSS feeds based on keyword queries. In way of example, take a look at the xmlhub Open Directory Search - Custom RSS Feed Generator which searches the DMOZ Open Directory and creates keyword query feeds.

Not everyone lives in a state that has ready made feeds of this kind. If you find a resource page of interest thas has not yet been syndicated, converted them to RSS feeds, you can try scraping pages of interest using a tool like xmlhub's RSSgenr8: HTML to RSS Converter.

Here's a list of some of the State of Virginia RSS feeds that you can subscribe to: