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Friday, February 19, 2010

Cincinnati Considers Switch to Google Gmail: Now Spends $724,638 Annually On e-Mail System.

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The city currently uses an internal IT operation to provide e-mail services, anti-spam and anti-virus filtering. City Manager Milton Dohoney says the cost is $13.57 per month for each of the 4,450 users on the city system. He says switching electronic mailboxes to Google looks less expensive: "The city could reduce or eliminate ongoing hardware, software and personnel costs associated with in-house messaging by moving to a hosted e-mail service." Dohoney told the Regional Computer Center earlier this month to assess the full impact. His memo said security issues - including the possibility of hackers and Google itself peeking at messages -- need to be studied before any switch is approved. Dohoney said he wants to weigh the risks and benefits before migrating to Gmail:

"Currently, e-mail availability is dependent upon internal (city managed) networks, e-mail application servers and client connectivity. Message delivery to local (city) users does not typically touch the public network (Internet). A disruption at the hosted e-mail site or other activity impacting Internet connectivity would result in a city employee's inability to access their e-mail. Furthermore, security of message storage on a hosted site raises questions about what parties have access to City information. Google established itself by employing data gathering techniques that tap into user information as a means to provide advertisers (Google's primary customers) with marketing information.

"Maintaining the integrity and access of sensitive data is a concern for law, public safety and other groups who must protect confidentiality. Issues have been raised about who is accessing data on hosted e-mail systems. The presumption is that locally stored and managed data is more secure than data that exists on a server in another city, state or country. Google is in the process of addressing this issue by separating its hosted services for government entities from that of other customers."

Currently, the city uses Mircosoft Exchange Server 2003 for e-mail services. Los Angeles has undertaken a pilot program with Google Gmail. It ends this summer. Dohoney said Cincinnati needs to see how it turns out. He said the LAPD didn't take part in the Google pilot. The LA cops want to see if the system proves secure and reliable.


  1. Government emails are all public record unless they fit one of the Sunshine Law exemptions. Exempt material would normally be a single digit percentage. So why the big fuss over security for something anyone can get by just asking?

    Put attorneys in the City Solicitor's office on a paid secure mail service, and everybody else on some sort of freemail. This shouldn't be as difficult as they're making it.

  2. Right on. Priority should be saving money. Go Google.

  3. Google Apps works amazingly well. It's very easy to preserve everything (it's just like Gmail) and the professional plans run about $50 per user a year. It doesn't have everything Exchange has, but it's less confusing.