Google to power UAE municipality

The UAE oasis city of Al-Ain looks set to benefit from working with Google to improve its level of contact with citizens and the way it manages its internal work flows. The local authority will use Google software to boost its administration by adopting Google Docs as its preferred source of applications. The authority has extended this idea to citizens by planning to offer them all Google Gmail addresses to help them stay in touch with the local authority.

If this latter plan goes ahead, Al-Ain will be the world's first municipality to service its population this way. Also on the slate are ideas to offer citizens a view of infrastructure developments using Google Maps, and for Google translation tools to offer authority documents to the public in a number of different languages. Aside from the lowered cost of using free software, presumably there's an advantage to the authority in standardizing on Google to power its e-Government portal, although it's not clear what the business model is for Google.

I'd be interested to understand what the commercial terms of the agreement are, and Google's subsequent responsibility to ensure that government information and services are available to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Also, I wonder if Google will be placing advertisements for services and businesses next to the presentation of government documents? Could this foreshadow a move by Google into the government sector elsewhere?

Nicolas Jacquey
Simon Marshall