The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mapp Transition Team finds 'ticking time bomb'


Breakdown of domain registrations for New Jersey's
540 municipal websites. Note .gov accounts for 5 percent.
 

One of the Transition Team subcommittees for Plainfield Mayor-elect Adrian Mapp has discovered a 'ticking time bomb'.

When municipal administrations make the changeover from one mayor to another, transition committees are often used to get a snapshot of the situation with the current administration to give the new mayor a 'heads up' on issues that may need his or her attention immediately upon taking office.

Mayor-elect Mapp's team has turned up one such issue, but it is even more serious since its expected impact will take place before Mapp officially takes up the reins of government.

A volunteer member of the Information Technology subcommittee discovered that the registration for the city's plainfield.com domain is set to expire December 31, 2013 (or December 30, or January 1, 2014, depending on which record you look at).

plainfield.com is one of two domain names registered to the City (the other is plainfieldnj.gov). The .com domain has been registered by the City since December 31, 1995; the .gov domain only appears on records dated back to March of 2012. See the records here (.com) and here (.gov).

You get the same viewing experience whichever address you choose to use.

In the push to develop the .gov domain, the City has chosen to use that as its email handle also. This would be considered a good step to ensure accountability and transparency in the conduct of Plainfield's official business when it is done by email. If everyone were required to use the .gov email domain, which, unfortunately, they are not.

Some within the current administration argue that the .com domain is unimportant in light of the effort to support the .gov domain, and that the .com domain should be let go.

I think otherwise.

It is an asset that, if lost or given up, could come back to haunt the City. Besides, the .gov argument is not supported by the actual domains used by New Jersey municipal governments, as you can see from the graphic at the head of this story.




Note Google search turns up .com page.

In the first place, Google searches return the .com version as above, not the .gov version.




...and search for plainfieldnj ALSO turns up ,com pages.

Worse, even if folks searched on the search term 'plainfieldnj', the result would point to the .com pages (see above).

What's more, owning both domain names gives the City of Plainfield the flexibility to allow the use of the .com domain for a separate purpose (or purposes) from the city government website -- say as  window on economic development activity and opportunities, or to promote Plainfield cultural organizations and activities or tourism or as an online marketplace for Plainfield businesses. The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations.

AND OWNING the domain name.

And that raises the question of what to do.

Even if keeping the domain name is considered desirable, it is currently registered with an old and non-working email address with Mayor Robinson-Briggs as both the administrative AND technical contacts. This suggests that emailed reminders from Network Solutions (the domain registrar) would bounce and they might conclude the City didn't give a damn if the domain expired.

Is anyone in the current City administration trying to chase this problem down and get it resolved before the domain name expires?

What do you think?



-- Dan Damon [follow]

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7 comments:

Olive Lynch said...

Dan -- wouldn't this be a job for our technology director?

This is basic stuff.

Anonymous said...

Propaganda is not necessary to make a point, this is a non issue for people who understand technology. It will cost lest than....$0.02 cents on the dollar per day to keep the domain name if that is a major issue for you.

Dottie Gutenkauf said...

And it ought to be reasonably easy to do!

Anonymous said...

no one said those Republicans knew a damn thing about running a business or a city government..

Anonymous said...

This is so simple its not even worth the effort. When you register a name, you take them all. .com, .biz, .gov, .us at a minimum.

Anonymous said...

To 11:18AM For more than 30 years it has been the Democrats Green Team running the City and running up your tax bills,not the Republicans. You need to check your facts!

Anonymous said...

The city should definitely register the domain. I have extensive experience in government, with a major university, and we always, always, always register "sister" domains as a defensive tactic. It is a practice that helps protect, control, and preserve one's online-image. Plainfield should register plainfield.com, plainfield.net, plainfield.biz, plainfield.net, plainfield.xxx.

This is a no brainer and a standard marketing and it practive.