Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Google in Government Symposium - notes from the day

On Wednesday 18 March I attended the Google in Government Symposium, hosted by Hedloc.

I had planned to liveblog the day, as I liveblogged the recent Politics and Technology forum, however due to a lack of available wi-fi (the National Convention Centre still charges $40 for six hours access - which I was not personally willing to pay), I resorted to taking notes on PC, which I've provided below in an edited form.

I also twittered the event as a personal stream-of-consciousness record and thanks to the dozen or so people who asked questions of the presenters through me or discussed the event with me on Twitter.

The record of the Twitter conversation can be found here, or under the hashtag #cggov - note that the records are in reverse chronological order, so go to the last result to start at the start of the day.

The text below is an edited version of my personal notes from the day. It does not represent the views of any other individual or organisation. Any errors or omissions are mine.

Google in Government notes transcript

Google Enterprise Overview
Presenter: Paul Slakey - Director Americas and APAC, Google
  • Google is the world's largest search engine – 63% market share
  • It has 21,000 staff 50% technical/engineering
  • Its 2008 revenue was $21B and profit was $5B (that's $1M revenue per staff member)
  • Has more than 90 offices globally
  • Products available in 117 interface languages across 157 international domains
Google Enterprise
  • 40% of world's information is behind firewalls
  • 10 of 15 US cabinet agency websites use Google search as their search tool
  • Washington DC is rolling Google search out to 86 agencies
Google Search Appliance
  • Plugs into most data storage
Google Maps/Earth
  • APIs for showing your data on Google's maps on your website
  • Premier level provides Enterprise support, features, no ads
Google Apps
  • Messaging, collaboration, security, compliance
  • Totally run from the web, no IT install hassles (just firewall access)
  • No delay in spam/virus filtering, run from cloud
  • 10 million active users, including some large enterprises
  • Security and ownership of information is an interesting area
  • Claims that Google is one of the most secure environments on the planet – what happens to access to data if a foreign power cuts international data links or legislates that they have the right to view all data?

Destination Innovation
Presenter: Alan Noble - Engineering Director, Australia & New Zealand, Google
  • Internet has transformed in last ten years from static print world imitation to dynamic, complex, application-rich environment
  • Openness meant we could innovate unimpeded
His view of the two major trends for innovation
  • Open Source
  • Open Data
Google is a big supporter of open standards, Open Social Alliance and Open Handset Alliance

Google is very interested in having governments make public data available online on same basis to all organisations and citizens - and has made submission in this vein in the current consultation process.

Some examples of openness
  • Make public transportation much more accessible to masses via Google transit (as Adelaide and Perth have done)
  • Victoria fires google map, indicating extent and severity of fires, using a real-time fire feed. This reduced load (and cost) for Government servers by shifting it to Google's map servers.
Two technologies changing the face of the web
  • APIs (Google maps originally launched with no API and was reverse engineered by clever programmers – Google hired them)
  • Gadgets/widgets – over 100,000 websites now syndicating gadgets, billions of pageviews per week – no one organisation could do this.
Four trends on the web
  • Open social – about knowledge sharing via collaboration applications, not simply for social engagement
  • Geospatial
  • Openly available digital information – greater information sharing, environmental benefits, shipping bits not products
  • The cloud – software as a service meets utility software – scalable and elastic – will finally make the computer invisible

Destination Search
Presenter: Richard Suhr - Head of Google Enterprise, ANZ & South East Asia, Google

Search challenges for Gov Agencies
  • Search is the starting point to the world's information.
  • Too much information, hard to organise
  • Google has unique position – spent ten years figuring out how to make search work for consumers
  • Why is it so much harder to find information in enterprises, than in private life?
New US president has made search front-and-centre

Singaporean government came to Google and said they wanted a better search system across all of their government departments. Google took one search appliance – runs all search for all of government. Operates 4 million pages, 300 different search experiences (in agencies)

Quick stats from Google
  • When navigation fails, 50% of users turn to search
  • 71% use keyword searches to find products and services
  • 90% of consumers said they used site search to access self-service content
  • 85% of site searches don't return what the user sought
  • 80% of visitors abandon a site if search functionality is poor
  • 22% of site searches return no results

  • 29% of CEOs/CIOs said it is difficult to find information to make company-wide decisions, 40% of senior managers reported the same
  • Knowledge workers spend more than 25% of their time searching for information to do their jobs – and when they find it it is often wrong

  • As much as 10% of a company's salary costs are wasted on unproductive searches
Customer (and staff) view
  • Speed - If it's not fast, I won't use it
  • Relevance - If I don't find it first time, I will go elsewhere
Google's trends...
  • Focus on 'answers' not 'results'
  • Building connectors (native support for over 100 connections)
  • Multimedia search done right
  • Compliance and archiving search
  • Federated search (hook search together across different systems)

Technical Overview and Case Studies
ATO website – people can now find information on the website, users gravitating to search as the first path for navigation, rather than menus – huge increase in search.

Presenter: Aaren Tebbutt - Account Manager, HEDLOC
  • Can integrate search across platforms, delivering a search across websites, file servers and databases.
  • Supports unlimited collections across subsets of content
  • Can suggest best bets and search narrowing terms
  • Secure results are not presented to unauthenticated users
  • Wanted faster and more relevant result for their document management repository
  • Integrated security – presented results that were 'search only' – could not see a snippet or have a link
  • Can use metadata to refine search – and display metadata in results
  • OneBox module – can get results from applications and database systems, sent back as XML and integrated into search results. Used to integrate contacts information into a single set of search results. Also works for maps and other content.
  • Search as you type function – suggest results as people type

Destination Geospatial
Presenter: Mickey Kataria - Google maps Product Manager, Google

Mission: 'Organise the world's geographical information and make it universally accessible and useful'
  • Google maps is no. 1 most trafficked mapping website (including in Australia, US, UK, NZ)
  • Acquired Maps from an Australian product in 2004, integrated with 'Keyhole' for Google Earth – another company acquired by Google.
  • Google Maps APO – embed a fully customisable, interactive (or static) map into any webpage
  • Street View
  • Driving Directions
  • Geocoding
  • Static Maps
  • Javascript or Flash versions of interactive maps
Maps API - Premier version
  • Contract/SLA
  • Support
  • Opt-in options for ads
  • HTTPS support
  • Advanced geocoding
  • Larger static maps
  • Usable internally (within a firewall)
  • Share your data back into google maps, for example,
    Australian Electorate map for Federal election
    UK Metropolitan police crime map –
  • Maps on phone, static maps API, Javascript maps API
  • Map Kit – native API for iPhone
User-generated content
  • MyMaps – create your own map (plotting points, sharing, collaboratively editing)
  • MapMaker – create maps where they don't exist
  • Editing listings – add a business, move a location
Google Earth
Presenter: Brian Atwood - Google Earth Enterprise Product Manager
  • More robust and full-featured than maps
  • Government a major GID user, Google earth provides a single interface to aggregate all this data
  • Two components,
    1. All data goes into Google Earth Fusion Software – processes and blends it together
    2. Processed data goes to Google Earth Server which allows viewing of data in a 3D or 2D format
  • Visual clearing house for data, viewable by those who are given access
  • Fast, easy-to-use and low cost
  • Works with and is complementary to existing GIS systems
  • DC GIS – crime and other data
  • New York Dept of Transport – travel, accident and crisis info
  • Department of Homeland Security Earth – iCAV – crisis info, hurricanes, floods, etc
  • US Forest Service – GPS tracking of planes in real-time

Case study - Virtual Alabama

  • Needed an 'affordable, scalable, maintainable' system to visualise state asset imagery and infrastructure data
  • Initiative started by Governor in 2005

  • Video – Virtual Alabama 'common operating picture for state of Alabama', full case study is on Youtube (will add link later)
  • Common operating picture and situational awareness (everyone sees same data)
  • Right people have right data at right time
  • Increase efficiencies in data usage, reduce costs
  • Very easy to use
  • Able to handle terabytes of data quickly
  • Began project in June 2006, Initial release in August 2006, all 67 counties by Nov 2007
  • 550 Agencies now using it
  • 2,100 total users + growing

Case study - Energy Australia
Presenter: Lawrence Bolton, Manager Community Liaison and Infrastructure

In his area
  • 4,500 substations
  • 5,000 distribution centres
  • 11,000 distributors
  • Need load monitoring to prevent substations getting overloaded
  • Huge infrastructure program over next 5 years $8B to replace aging equipment
Wanted a way to 'see' or 'visualise' data

Google Earth is being rolled out in pilot as the visualisation platform for their GIS data, using layers and rich information.

Case Study - Australian Federal Police
Presenter: James Harris - Team Leader Geospatial services, Information Services Australian Federal Police
  • Over 50 GIS Apps
  • Most in specialist hands
  • Silos of data and solutions
  • Little or no succession plan
  • It was a 'cottage industry'
Audited systems:
  • Found 30 GE Pro Installations
  • 300+ GE installations - potential licensing issues, Google gave them an amnesty to fix
  • Dec 08, over 1,000,000 hits on per month – increasing 400% or 800% per year
Selected Google Earth via a tender process, and are implementing an internal version so no-one external is aware of when the Federal Police have interest in a location. Initially using 8 terabytes of storage – with multiple globes.

Initial role out in April to testers, full rollout in June.

Looking to roll out maps, live feeds, custom build tools, link into corporate databases in future.

Case Study - NT Land Information Systems
Presenter: Phillip Rudd - Director NT Land Information Systems

Geospatial useful for key questions
  • Where did it happen?
  • What else is around there?
  • Is there a pattern over time/space?
Uses Google Earth alongside other tools (complex system - but it works well).

Department was gathering lots of map data, but could not effectively do much with it.

Originally deployed solution in production in 2006.

Emergency Management – 239 registered users
Land Information – open to all users (potentially 9,500 desktops) actual 1,619 logins

'We all think in pictures, not in words'

  • Counter terrorism and Emergency management
  • Spatial Searching
  • Automated mapping

Destination Apps and Security
Presenter: Paul Slakey - Director Americas and APAC, Google

Why are users unhappy?
  • better tools at home than at work
Stats on current IT management
  • IT organisations spend 80% of their budget on Maintenance
  • 68% of organisations experience 6+ data leaks every year
  • 60% of the average agency's Intellectual Property is trapped in email
Forrester report Jan 2009 – should your email live in the cloud?

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