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Google Aims To Make State Info Web-Accessible

  • Reuters, Monday, April 30, 2007 10:45 AM
Google just announced it would partner with the state governments of Arizona, California, Utah and Virginia to make it easier to find public information on their Web sites. The search giant plans to make state information more accessible by taking advantage of "sitemap protocol," which lets search crawlers easily find Web pages in Google's search results. It's a first step by Google at taking government information that should be public out of the shadows.

"A lot of state agencies view their Web sites as billboards as opposed to dynamic means of two-way communications between governments and their citizens," said Darrell West, a professor of political science at Brown University. "The problem is that there are some parts of government sites that search engines can't reach." There was no financial transaction involved in the deal, which was a barter between Google and the state governments to supply information that had not been accessible on the Web. "The reality is that much information on state Web sites is public, but effectively, it's not, because it's hard to find," said J.L. Needham, Google's product manager for public sector partnerships.

It's a little ironic that Utah is one of the partners, considering the state recently ruled that Google had no right to allow competitors to bid on trademarks they do not own. Google said the decision belied an understanding of how search marketing works, and most lawyers feel the case would not hold up in federal court.

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