Federal CIOs directed to tag coronavirus announcements for search engines

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The White House has directed federal chief information officers to help prioritize particular information about the coronavirus in internet search results by incorporating new standard tags into all relevant webpages starting Wednesday.

Schema.org — a community founded by tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo — created the tags to be added to the code of any website containing information on COVID-19 prevention, disease spread, quarantine rules, travel guidance, and testing.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Office of Management and Budget also advised state and local government, private sector, and academic CIOs to follow suit.

U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios, Federal CIO Suzette Kent and White House Chief Digital Officer Ory Rinat issued the call. The officials also asked the Network and Information Technology Research and Development program to circulate instructions for digital teams publishing urgent coronavirus announcements.

With agencies using the tags, search engine queries will be more likely to yield the latest official public health announcements and information. State and local governments can flag closures and changes in restrictions, while pharmacies, clinics and businesses can identify COVID-19 testing sites and hours of operation for their communities.

Agencies continue to develop tags for scientific and other auxiliary COVID-19 information. The National Science Foundation-funded Open Knowledge Network, Department of Energy and National Institutes of Health are behind that effort.

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CIO, coronavirus, Department of Energy (DOE), Google, Michael Kratsios, Microsoft, National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of Science and Technology Policy, Ory Rinat, Schema.org, search engines, SEO, Suzette Kent, tags, White House, Yahoo!