The Gazette has traditionally been available in hard copy at the printer for a fee. A few years back, the National Council for Law Reporting started scanning and uploading the Gazette onto the Kenya Law Reform Commission’s website.
This format has however been unwieldy and not easily searchable online as the scanned copies are stored as images.“The initiative to digitize the Gazettes began over two years ago with the National Council for Law Reporting (NCLR), under the authority of the Attorney General,” Google said in a statement yesterday.“Through a model public-private partnership with NCLR, Google was able to scan the documents, automatically identify text from images, and index over 190,000 pages of Gazettes. Internet users can search the Gazettes by title, year of publication or keyword, across an entire archive, or within a single issue.”
Google sub-Sahara head Joe Mucheru told the Star on phone that the project took Google between 60 -90 days.“They (NCLR) had already scanned the documents so the technology we offered them was optical character recognition and indexing of every word so it can be searchable,” Mucheru said. Once Google has digitized such information, it then looks for ways to monetize it like search-based advertising.
The Gazette information is stored in google’s online books, books.google.co.ke, a vast collection of books digitized after their copyright expired.
A search showed a January 1906 proclamation by a J. Hayes Sadler, Her Majesty’s Commissioner for the East Africa Protectorate (Kenya) ordering the quarantine of a farm in Kikuyu area.“Whereas cases of contagious Pleuro-pneumonia are reported by the Chief Veterinary Officer amongst the cattle belonging to R.B. Taylor of Castle Farm, Kikuyu,” Sadler wrote.“Now, therefore in exercise of the powers conferred upon me by the Diseases of Animals Ordnance 1906, I hereby declare the said farm to be an infected area.”The order is dated January 27, 1906.
Google said there is potential for a lot more government information to be digitized this way including parliament’s Hansard and the Bureau of Statistics census data.
David Mugonyi, parliament’s PRO however said the hansard was already online going back to the 2008 sittings.“We have a Hansard team (working on it),” Mugonyi said.