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At DNC, Google pitches products to public sector

Search giant tells bureaucrats in Denver for the Democratic convention that its applications can make governments run more efficiently and on a smaller budget.

DENVER--Google is taking advantage of the presence of innumerable state and federal bureaucrats attending the Democratic convention to engage in some old-fashioned product pitchmanship.

Vivek Kundra, the chief technology officer for the District of Columbia's government, was on hand here on Wednesday to explain how he has used Google applications to facilitate the online work of more than 38,000 D.C. employees. He related the story of how he interviewed for his job on the morning of September 11, 2001, and quickly learned how critical it was to upgrade the city's bureaucracy.

"All of our assets were in one physical building," he said. "I wanted to learn how we could run a stateless government, without physical infrastructure."

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is pitching convention attendees Google Enterprise, its collection of products for government applications. (One is the Google Mini, which can search up to 50,000 documents inside an intranet for $3,000 a year; more expensive versions are more capable.)

Kundra said D.C. had planned on spending $4 million on an intranet system, but he was able to cut costs by more than 97 percent by using a Google platform.

"We have enormous data centers around the world," said Dave Girouard, president of Google Enterprise. "Trying to keep up with the engineering work and data capability that we're doing makes no sense."

The audience of about a dozen--made up of mostly Denver-based government employees--had questions about keeping government information secure on Google applications.

Girouard said the company has worked with dozens of large organizations, including parts of the Department of Defense, to provide secure capabilities with systems that recognize credentialing.

"They come out saying their data is much safer through Google," he said.

For products that Google cannot provide, such as applications to facilitate the collection of state taxes, Girouard said other companies with the proper expertise can use Google products to build such products. He said Google's open platform is part of its effort to make more information publicly accessible.

"We aim to build strong public partnerships," he said. "We have initiatives to get more information into the Google index."

Girouard said Google applications have so far been most useful for equipping emergency first responders. For instance, products like Google Earth can be used to help them locate fallen power lines.

Kundra said the District of Columbia has used its partnerships with Google and Apple to create a new content management system wholly designed for mobile users.

"We've created alerts and real-time maps of the snow plower going through your neighborhood," Kundra said, citing an example of how the system benefits residents.