Social media philosophy blog
Tuesday September 25th 2018

Municipalities up in the cloud

Swedish municipality Salem recently announced that they were the country’s first municipality to place all of their IT services at Google apps. This surprised me greatly, since it is such a dramatic step with extensive and complicated consequences. Did they really know what they were doing? It didn’t sound like it based on the public announcement. This is what I interpreted as their thinking:

• -we are just switching from Microsoft to Google, just a platform switch
• -this is basically a choice based on technological reasoning
• -this makes good business sense, much of this is free and we do not have to pay all these expensive licenses
• -we can put more resources into working with important policy issues
• -cloud computing is the future, so let’s embrace it
• -all the services are integrated, so none of that compatibility trouble
• -all services are reachable from anyplace
• -all of the 2500 schoolchildren will have the same platform

I would have liked to read their thinking on a number of other issues. The involved people seem to be well informed, so maybe they have already thought about things that concern me:

• -What are the ethical and legal implications in moving data and services from computers and servers owned by the municipality to computers owned by an American multinational corporation?
• -What kind of freedom of choice does the municipality have when investing in future information technology?
• -What kind of competitive advantage is Google given concerning associated technology on the local market? For instance, regarding smartphones?
• -In which ways can Google Sweden safeguard its information in relation to the mother company?
• -Did officials of the municipality have the right to take the decision to move information from Swedish citizens to an American corporation?
• -Isn’t information to be seen as a kind of currency? That we are giving away for free?
• -In which ways is the Salem information linked with other nation-based resources? What else was Google given in this deal?

And so on. Personally, I find cloud computing as a sideline to the regular Internet quite exciting. I find the trend to put all resources on the cloud scary. Very scary. Information is slippery guys, very slippery.

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