LA Goes All Google

At the beginning of August 2009, LA decided to firm up it’s bid to become the first fully ‘cloud-based’ computing city. This only relates to the city services (fire, police, justice etc), but will involve the moving over 17,000 workers to a system of Google Apps, with another 13,000 simply converting to Gmail. Chief information officer Randi Levin was quoted as saying:

The ability to get whatever information the city needs, whenever they need it, on whatever device they need it on will fundamentally change the way the city works and enhance productivity greatly.

Clearly this is a big deal, not only for Google and LA, but for cloud computing as a whole. Having gained much interest and popularity, adoption of this technology by larger companies has been slow amidst fears of security and reliability issues. Government agencies are notoriously jumpy about having third parties handle sensitive data, especially after recent events such as the hacking and removal of sensitive Twitter documents from a Google Docs account.
So unsurprisingly, the full integration launch has been delayed amidst security concerns, at an estimated cost of £100,000 to Google, but since this is the first integration of it’s kind a few hiccups should have been expected. Google has agreed to foot the bill, presumably in order to make this ‘test case’ a success.
However, opinion is split as to whether this is a good move. Many predict a slight time of chaos as the implementation is executed, with some security experts claiming it to be ‘nutty to give up that much control’. Others are of the view that Google’s security and reliability are far greater than local government departments currently, so it represents a step forward in those terms.

It is undoubtedly going to be interesting seeing the switchover, and it should be a massive benefit in many areas. As with all computer systems though, it has the potential to create massive trouble, especially with some of the information it will be handling.

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