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Vote for DDS for SXSW Online 2021

While 2020 hasn’t been the year for getting out, that doesn’t mean we haven’t been diligently working on some incredible projects with the U.S. military service branches. Wondering how we’ve focused our efforts working remotely?

What if we told you we’d helped the Navy track the coronavirus on their warships? Or, if we said we had used the popular gaming platform, Twitch, to virtually deliver our Hack a Satellite challenge to DEF CON 28 attendees? And, then there’s that Raiders of the Lost Ark-like treasure trove of 55M human tissue samples that is poised to be a game-changer in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. We have many stories to share, and we’re hoping you’ll help us take the virtual stage at SXSW Online 2021.

We have submitted six unique panels for inclusion in the digital line-up. Lucky for us, the public gets a chance to shape next year’s agenda. Go to the SXSW panel picker before November 20th to vote for us. You can read more about our ideas below, and we can’t wait to show the folks in Austin that you’re as excited about them as we are!


What it is: The COVID-19 crisis threatened to destabilize U.S. military services and national security. Designing solutions required sensitive, rapid user experience testing, and validation.

Who it is: Katie Olson, Deputy Director, Defense Digital Service

What you’ll learn:

  • Urgent situations can shed light on inadequate systems
  • The government can improve user engagement by designing with users
  • Changing government culture can improve user experience


What it is: Four cybersecurity leaders involved with Operation Warp Speed will discuss the initiative itself and the security challenges facing healthcare in general.

Who it is:

  • Danie Bardenstein, Digital Services Expert, Defense Digital Service
  • Janet Vogel, Chief Information Security Officer, U.S. Department of Health and Services
  • Scott Sumner, Vice President, R&D and Information Systems (CISO), Dassault Systèmes
  • Lewis Watson, Director of Cybersecurity Compliance, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

What you’ll learn:

  • Healthcare is in dire need of security expertise.
  • Government support for private-sector cybersecurity is...complicated.
  • How to rapidly secure an entire industry


What it is: When Covid-19 thrust DEF CON into SAFE MODE, DDS leveraged Twitch to teach you how to hack a satellite...in your pajamas. Join us as we nerd out on hacking Twitch to teach and connect in a pandemic world!

Who it is:

  • Clair Koroma, Bureaucracy Hacker, Defense Digital Service
  • Nick Ashworth, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Tulsa, Computer Science Program

What you’ll learn:

  • The art of moving fast and getting sh*t done in government, without breaking it
  • The nuts and bolts of achieving hardware fidelity in Twitch
  • Humor in adversity


What it is: In April 2020, Defense Digital Service (DDS) received a call from the Naval Hospital Guam requesting aid with a Covid-19 outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. This is the story of what happened next.

Who it is:

  • Brett Luartes, Digital Service Expert (Product Manager), Defense Digital Service
  • Maya Kuang, Army Product Manager, Defense Digital Service
  • Charles Yetman, Data Science & Analytics, Senior Scientific Technical Manager, Navy Information Warfare Center Pacific
  • Niels Olson, Chief Medical Officer, Defense Innovation Unit

What you’ll learn:

  • An urgent situation required proactive, fast-thinking to prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • Team integration and authority are the special sauce for standing up a tool quickly
  • The application and the generated data can be used for rapid medical decision-making


What it is: What happens when you bring together soldiers and a swat team of nerds to modernize national defense from the inside-out? This women-in-leadership mentor session will share insights from within Army Futures Command and DDS.

Who it is:

  • Hannah Hunt, Chief Innovation Officer, Army Futures Command Software Factory
  • Katie Olson, Deputy Director, Defense Digital Service

What you’ll learn:

  • Training government alongside industry will modernize software practices
  • Designing with users leads to more meaningful user experiences
  • Senior leaders unlock perspectives and foster collaborations previously untapped


What it is: DDS and the Joint Pathology Center are converting the world’s largest tissue repository into digital images to improve computational pathology.

Who it is:

  • Scarlett Swerdlow, Digital Service Expert - Data Scientist, Office of the Secretary of Defense - Defense Digital Service
  • Dr. Colonel Joel Moncur, Director, The Joint Pathology Center
  • Dr. Faisal Mahmood, Assistant Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School
  • Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton, Professor of Health Policy, Pediatrics, and Law, Vanderbilt University

What you’ll learn:

  • Why the Joint Pathology Center is a national treasure
  • How this dataset can contribute to AI/ML in computational pathology
  • The ethical, responsible use of data to advance medicine