Find public records in the deep Web

The news that Google is assisting some states with indexing their online public records content has been repeated in the mainstream press, without shedding much light on the what or how. The Arizona Government Technology Agency does a better job, detailing the agency records that are included and the nature of the indexing.

To improve access to State information, Arizona technology managers have been working with Google to implement the Sitemap Protocol for online State databases. This protocol enables a website owner to communicate the contents of a web accessible database to commercial search engines so that information in the database can be indexed and searched by commercial search engines. Pilot Sitemaps have been implemented at the Arizona Governor’s Office, the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, AHCCCS, and the Departments of Administration, Health Services, Public Safety, and Real Estate.

Most public records indexes require the searcher to go to the government site and use that site’s search mechanism to find individual personal information records. But many of these will now be accessible through a general search engine, bringing part of the deep Web to the surface Web.

Here are three different query formulations that you can perform in Google of the Arizona Department of Real Estate licensee records, the first two of which return the same result – pointing to the Arizona government record. The third lists the same result in the 3rd Google entry.

The order of the first and last name has to correspond to that in the public record if you put the terms within quotations.

“STRADLING, REBECCA” arizona real estate license

“STRADLING, REBECCA” site:azre.gov

rebecca STRADLING “real estate”

The State of Arizona also has a Google custom search engine, where you can perform the same search, but only searching Arizona “State Agencies, Boards and Commissions, Legislative Government, Counties, Cities and Towns, and Tribes.” In this case, the same name search, without quotes, returns a manageable 10 records. If needed, you can then refine the results to the appearance of the terms in only legislative, state, county or city Web sites.

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