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April 30, 2007

Google To Offer Deep Government Info for Four States

Google's announcement that it has partnered with four states (California, Arizona, Utah, Virginia) to googlize inaccessible data in state electronic files is drawing mixed reviews.  Those who want a more transparent government welcome the news.  Those who believe that unscrubbed data can compromise privacy are sounding alarms.  State records have an awful lot of social security numbers attached to individuals in various files.  Then there is the question as to who owns the data. 

Google says that a lot of people try to use the search engine to get at state data and usually can't find good results.  That's because Google's spiders can't get to the information.  The answer is to work with the states to make that information accessible in a form where the search engine can catalog it.  Google's press release refers to a Sitemap protocol where agencies communicate all pages on a government site, including databases. 

Does the deal with Google mean Yahoo! or MSN will be offering similar search capabilities?  Maybe.  There's no information as to whether the Sitemap protocol is proprietary, or one that's open to other data collectors.  If proprietary, it seems possible that other search engines can develop one of their own.  This remains to be seen how this all plays out.

For the moment Google will be the front end for deep government data in these four states.  That leaves 46 more as an untapped market for the major search engines to divide.  The federal government will be the biggest nut to crack.  Google has set a standard by stating that it will bear all the costs of implementation.  Governments like free when it comes to stuff like this. 

The deal more likely will be another driver of traffic to the Google web site.  Just remember, when looking up your birth certificate or drivers license information, there will be a column to one side of the page that says "Ads by Google."

April 30, 2007 | Permalink


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The site map protocol is open (well the four majors all recognise it).

Posted by: Simon Cast | May 1, 2007 10:07:17 AM

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