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City installs Google search on Web site

Original post made on Dec 12, 2007

Palo Alto's much-maligned Web site recently switched search engines, replacing Civica Software's program with a Google search bar, Chief Information Officer Glenn Loo said Wednesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 12, 2007, 5:35 PM

Comments (15)

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Posted by A World Without Google Is A World Without Light
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2007 at 6:07 pm

A Google search yesterday provided links into the Palo Alto web site, which had not happened in the recent past. Figured that something had changed, but given how uncommunicative the city was when the original web site was launched, trying to talk to anyone at City Hall about it proved difficult.

The fact that the Civica software was incompatible with Google's "crawlers" certainly should have been determined by the city prior to signing any contracts.

Guess the old adage "live and learn" applies here. (This is if the city actually learned anything.)


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 12, 2007 at 6:51 pm

"Civica software was incompatible with Google's "crawlers"

And pundits are saying that Palo Alto should not sue Civica? Can someone tell me what enterprise - public or private - is served by not being able to be accessed by Google?

This is an egregious contract breach. Civica should be sent a demand letter.


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Posted by A World Without Google Is A World Without Light
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2007 at 7:28 pm

> This is an egregious contract breach. Civica should
> be sent a demand letter.

This is the City's fault, or at least, its lack of technical expertise is/was showing.

Even if the City had a claim, the legal fees alone would not make this worth the effort.

However, by removing the Civica code, the access to the other modules which Civica offered makes any future expansion of this site problematic without a lot of work.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 12, 2007 at 8:34 pm

There's not much satisfaction in saying, "We told you so," when all the money has already been paid to Civica.

And yes, it is the city's fault. Civica provides plenty of information about its "capabilities" on its site, along with examples of cities using its software. If we had any web-savvy staffers, this would never have happened.


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Posted by COO
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 12, 2007 at 10:41 pm

Maybe we would have had some web-savvy staffers if certain citizens weren't always trying to nickel and dime city operations in a way that is penny wise, and pound foolish


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Posted by karen anne
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 13, 2007 at 2:55 am

I give them credit for making some progress. I searched for "my" heritage tree, and it showed up easily in the listings, plus, unlike the first edition of the web site, they now have the tree report and photos up.

Also I searched for creek monitor, and that showed up as the second result (google itself popped it up in first place.)

Lots more work to do, but they have done something. I suspect the reason they got no positive feedback is that people gave up on the site and haven't been visiting it.


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Posted by suckered against my will
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2007 at 8:55 am

Another 30 THOUSAND to fix this?? We're still being duped.


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Posted by Management Matters
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2007 at 9:18 am

> Maybe we would have had some web-savvy staffers
> if certain citizens weren't always trying to nickel
> and dime city operations in a way that is penny wise,
> and pound foolish

City financing doesn't work that way. The City has a lot of money and IT people are well paid. This is a management issue that goes to the top of the management chain.


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Posted by Web designer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 13, 2007 at 10:04 am

I would have done the whole thing for 25k. Nice work PA.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Dec 13, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Palo Alto isn't learning a thing. Someone made out like a bandit. Maybe there is a connection between a decision maker in Palo Alto and the web design firm?

Who in their crazy mind would pay $500k for a stupid website? Even paying $25k is a waste. It is a website for a city, not a business. Files aren't being uploaded and downloaded by users, supply chains are not reacting to user data. Spending 5 figures for a website is crazy enough...but $500k?

The fact that no heads rolled or jobs were terminated at Palo Alto is a testament to apathy of Palo Alto residents. In Menlo Park (I'm on the border), we supported a recall of some Council members for buying into real estate and into a private business. While that is outright criminal, paying $500k for monkey work coding of a website is just insane.

I don't think we have any right to criticize those idiots in City Hall. We let them get away with it. There is no outcry. There is no angry letter writing campaign. You just gave them a blank check for another stupid project. Sorry for being harsh, but you know we deserve it for sitting on our hands.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Search has hugely improved. Not only does the search take less than 10 seconds, it actually provides links. The old search used to return blank pages on the same keywords.

Now if the city would only replace the rest of the Civica CMS and use a non-proprietary content management system so they could rebid the website contract.


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Posted by Maslow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 15, 2007 at 7:01 pm

It is interesting how naive the comments are in this blog. People want to focus only on things that don't work or mistakes City staffers make, but what about all the other things that work? Did your property value not stay up in the top in the current downturn? Yes, the school district has much to do with it, but it is not the only thing. What about all the community services offers? go search the beautiful websites of other cities and tell me which city offers a $22 million budget for such services. If you don't like what you get.......move!!!


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 15, 2007 at 10:11 pm

Maslow, perhaps you can start a thread to list items the government deserves praise for. That would be more constructive than suggesting your neighbors move rather than object to things they don't like.

Personally I doubt that "city services" are a huge factor in maintaining housing values in PA. But maybe I'm wrong. Which community services do you think are so stellar that they drive housing values?


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Posted by Can't find
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 16, 2007 at 1:36 pm

The search has vastly improved, sure. But it brings up quantities of irrelevant matter, unlike Google itself which usually has the most pertinent items right on top.
Look for something happening this week and you get 2004, 2002 etc.
The organization of the material is screwy. Usually not in time order.
And the introductory material was written for strangers or children. You have to page down through lots of useless text again and again to find something you specifically searched for.
And you can't find things that aren't posted. Whose job is that? The city calendar is useless unless you are looking for children's stuff.
For what audience was this thing designed?


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Posted by Can't find
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 16, 2007 at 11:50 pm

I was just searching for a meeting and the text says (several times) that the meeting will be televised on Channel 16. Is anything televised on 16? I assume they meant Channel 26.


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