June 24th, 2010 | Published in Google Enterprise
Editor's Note: We're pleased to welcome back James Ferreira who previously wrote about adopting Google Apps. James is the Chief Information Officer for the Office of the New Mexico Attorney General, providing IT services to the largest law office in the state. Mr. Ferreira is tasked with the responsibility of facilitating the communication between the public and nearly 200 office staff, including attorneys. Additionally, Mr. Ferreira has served as a member on many committees including the NM Information and Technology committee, NM Technical Counsel, and the Department of Information and Technology Project Review Committee.
The New Mexico State Attorney General’s office maintains data sets containing hundreds of thousands of documents relating to ongoing trials, cases, investigations and lawsuits. Like many state and federal agencies, a significant problem we face in public sector document management is keeping track of the relevance of individual documents within large data sets. Client-side document management systems can help but are very expensive and often lack the flexibility required by a large state agency. Unlike cloud-based offerings, client-side solutions are not designed to let people collaborate easily, so adding important meta-data to a data set is often a complex and frustrating undertaking that can’t easily be split or shared by large teams. Nor can you easily access your work outside the office, since files stay on your local corporate network.
The New Mexico State Attorney General switched to Google Apps Premier Edition for email and documents last year, and a few months ago we started thinking about using Google Apps Script to help us automate parts of our document management system. Google Apps Scripts comes free with Google Apps Premier Edition, so there is no cost involved to build on this platform, making good fiscal sense for any cost-conscious government agency.
After spending just a few days to build scripts, we built a developmental App to search data sets and return a list of results to a spreadsheet. From the spreadsheet, users can then enter additional meta-data to describe documents. In addition, users can organize and group documents on related topics by selecting choices from custom-made menus powered by scripts.
By using the new UI App service in Google Apps Script, we were also able to extend the functionality of this App to mobile platforms like Android without needing to deploy an application to each device.
And since the entire data chain runs on Google servers through secure SSL connections, the risk of in-transit data attacks is minimized - a significant benefit given the sensitive nature of the legal documents in our data set.
We are seeing a fundamental shift in information sharing. It is no longer enough to have a place to store files, we also need to build the semantics of our documents to create relevance for a wider audience. Rather than cumbersome client-side software, cloud-based tools like Google Apps Script make it easier to share and collaborate on document management through an inexpensive, secure, and extensible platform.
James Ferreira, CIO, Office of the New Mexico Attorney General
Editor's Note: For more examples of how organizations are using Apps Script, head on to the Google Apps Script Blog.