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Google Cloud's New RAD Lab a 'Sandbox' for Government

As more public agencies turn to digital tools, Google has released a new cloud-based resource to help government agencies and universities set up cloud environments for the development and testing of new technology.

Google has released a cloud-based “sandbox” where public agencies, along with laboratories and university IT departments, can test and learn new technologies.

The new tool, called RAD Lab, makes its debut as more governments turn to cloud tools and software as a service — a big factor in the growing amount of investment and merger and acquisition activity in the government technology sector.

“For state and local governments, the pandemic has driven an upsurge in innovation, and that shift is here to stay,” said Emma Fish, head of education programs and business development of Cloud Public Sector at Google. “Many (of those agencies) are thinking about how to upscale and support technology teams.”

As Fish tells it, the open source RAD Lab allows users to quickly set up cloud environments for research projects, develop and test new technologies through trial and error in a secure environment, and receive support from Google professionals.

Users can set up projects in a matter of hours, according to a post last week on Google Cloud's blog, and employ automated script while doing so. Google’s expectation is that users will use the product mainly for testing, not permanent endeavors.

“RAD Lab allows users to test and learn on the cloud, and remove barriers to access,” Fish said.

She added that the subscription-based pricing model protects users from cost overruns.

According to Google Cloud's blog, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is already using the new tool to “vet ideas and develop prototypes that can scale.” The agency is working on research and development in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science and enterprise architecture – all topics that are increasingly relevant to state and local governments as they beef up their capabilities in disaster relief and other areas.
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.