The United Nations has added another search function to their two existing “simple search” and “advanced search” functions already on their Official Document System, and you get one guess where they bought it. For those who haven’t been following the news, earlier this year the UN publicly released their online archive of documents — including General Assembly resolutions, press releases, and job notices. This was a welcome e-government addition to the UN’s online activities, demonstrating their commitment to transparency and public information. Recently they added another search function, one that looks suspiciously “google-y.”
The new Global Search on the UN’s official document server (ODS) is an interesting name since one would assume the “simple search” and “advanced search” on the ODS were also global searches, unless you explicitly limited your search query to certain databases. The new search allows you to specify a set of words or phrase to look for, as well as the ability to exclude words, and limit by language.
I searched for “panganiban” and the only references to myself pertained to my very brief volunteer work representing various East Timor solidarity groups at the United Nations back in the mid-90s. Kind of disappointing, actually. But very fast.
The United Nations is not going to come right out and say that they have licensed the number one internet search engine in the world, in order to avoid favoring one company over another, I guess. But the similarities are obvious:
- The results screen has a similar results bar, saying “Results 1 – 10 of about 33. Search took 0.24 seconds.”
- Each result entry looks very google-y, i.e.:
“[PDF] Display PDF File
… access. Implementation is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2004; (e) Blocking spam in the e-mail accounts of the missions. The Working Group has been …
daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open&DS=E/2004/78&Lang=E – Text Version
So if the UN isn’t using Google’s engine, they are certainly copping their look & feel very closely.
It’s important to note that the United Nations doesn’t take a “technology neutral” stance on other software it employs. For example, the UN has licensed RealMedia, to provide all of their streaming video and audio. There are no other streaming or downloading formats supported, open source or closed source.
Google is the number one search engine in the world for good reasons — it’s crazy fast, easy-to-use, it just works. So it’s great that the UN is employing their services, which will ultimately benefit people everywhere searching for specific information about the UN.
Kudos to the UN’s tech team for choosing wisely.