Internet giant Google has announced partnerships with the state government s of Arizona, California, Utah, and Virginia to improve public access to information available via state government Web sites. The partnership has two layers: the first makes difficult-to-find information already published on state Web sites more accessible to Google and other search engines using Google’s Sitemap protocol, while the second has selected state agencies using the Google Custom Search Engine service to create better search features on their own sites.
“Connecting citizens with their government by offering the public better access to public sector information and services is consistent with our broader vision—to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” said Eric Schmidt, Google’s Chairman and CEO, in a statement. “These partnerships are among many that Google is pursuing with government agencies to better serve the public.”
Google says it has been working with state officials at no charge to implement search improvements, with an eye toward making information already available to the public via the government agencies—but difficult to find—more accessible to the public via general seach engines and via search facilities available at the agencies themselves. For instance, job-seekers in Utah can find job listings from the state’s Department of Workforce Services directly from a general Google search; similarly, historical resources from the Library of Virginia are now generally accessible to the Web, whereas before they were effectively hidden away from search engines. Similarly, information on California health and education services and Arizona’s Department of Real Estate are now accessible to Internet search engines.
Agencies have also been adopting the Google Custom Search Engine to improve search offerings on their own sites; search features on the main Virginia and Utah stae sites not encompass all sectors of state government.
“Transparent digital government is a top priority in Virginia,” said Tim Kaine, Governor of Virginia. “Our goal is to provide easy, quick and intuitive citizen access to every government resource. Google is helping us to achieve it.”