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Google reps make first visit to American Samoa

reporters@samoanews.com
Google reps Deborah Hafford (R) and Tejas Saraiya (L) met with Governor Togiola during their first visit to the territory. They said they enjoyed their stay immensely, and hope to continue a relationship with ASG. [courtesy photo]

The American Samoa Government is moving toward ‘Going Google’ as a way to save ASG money with an array of free Google Applications, says Director of the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) and Chief Information Officer Easter Asi Bruce.

In conversation with Samoa News, the enthusiastic CIO said, “ Google Apps will actually allow us to transform how the government does business. Increased collaboration and enhanced communication will be the result of this move, which will, most importantly, allow us to do so in a much more secure manner.”

Asi Bruce said she realized —after attending the worldwide Google conference in November (”Atmosphere 2011- A View from the Cloud”)— that the American Samoa government really needed to consider Google Apps, particularly for their email. After all, why reinvent the wheel?

This week, at the IT Director’s invitation, Google reps visited the territory, making formal presentations on the ways ASG can save money as other state governments in the U.S. have done, by switching to “Go Google”.

The Google apps slide show presentations were made by Google State and Government Manager Deborah Hafford and her partner Tejas Saraiya, an engineer with Google’s West Coast operations. Cabinet members and the public were both given opportunities to meet with the Google reps and hear what they had to say at the Lee Auditorium on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

Hafford said there are various types of Google applications that are useful for education systems, government systems, businesses and also non-profit organizations, and these applications are currently free for users— such as Gmail, Google Earth, Google Docs, Google Calendars, Google Chat and Google Video, all with anti spam and antivirus features.

Hafford said there are many governments and businesses in the mainland that are now using Google apps because it is saving them millions of dollars, and Google is reliable and secure.

She explained that government agencies use Google's enterprise solutions with Google Apps, Google Earth, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Search. “Google helps take the hassle out of managing IT solutions —which allows you to focus solely on the resources of your core mission.”

Hafford spoke about the security features of Google, whose data centers are engineered by leading security experts with best-in-class disaster recovery. There is also Gmail with 25GB storage, less spam, email security, and easy integration with Microsoft Outlook.

Google Calendar offers agenda management, scheduling, shared online calendars and mobile calendar sync. Google Docs, with documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, can collaborate in real-time without attachments.

Google Sites are secure, coding-free web pages for intranets and team managed sites, she said, while Google Video has secure video sharing, almost like your own private YouTube.

She said Google Apps for Government helps agencies cut spending and empowers the employees with modern, web-based email and collaboration applications.

Gmail has security and archiving with nothing to install or maintain, she continued, and It’s easy to use for anyone to view, and understand.

She said Google Earth and Maps are great for business— combining the familiar, interactive Google mapping products with added features designed especially for business users. Google Earth manages and shares your geospatial data in the cloud with all of your employees or with the public with Google Earth Builder. Google Maps also helps with business, for the public website to engage your customers

Hafford also spoke about the Google Art project, and how it can be useful for educators. She said the Art Project offers the World’s Art Museums online, where it will allow anyone to take a virtual street-view cart and drive around into the museums’ galleries to view the paintings, which have been uploaded with high resolution.

Google Art project for the museums online is not a replacement for a museum visit, she said, but it’s an enhancement before you go to the museum. There are 17 online museums from nine different countries available for viewing on Google Art at this time.

She explained that Google provides a free suite of hosted email and collaboration applications exclusively for schools and for non-profit organizations under 3,000 employees.

A nonprofit organization can decrease its total cost of ownership and offer staff the very latest innovation from Google, she noted, and it’s quick and easy to get started even if your nonprofit doesn't have a dedicated IT staff.

“Google is more than just a search engine, it’s also a way to organize the World’s information and make it universally accessible and useful for anyone. Google Search is not solved, there’s still a ton of work to do to make Search better and still continue to get more and more information available on line for everybody to access,” said Hafford.



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