As of last Friday, August 18, Google Sites now supports Page Level Permissions (see Better control in Google Sites with Page Level Permissions). For planners looking at using Google Sites to create an Event Communications Center, this is great news! Why do I say this?
Conferences and events are complex undertakings. One of the biggest issues is that they involve coordinating the efforts of a number of 3rd party hotels, venues, vendors, sponsors, exhibitors and partners. While the event planner may need to communicate with these different organizations, it is often also true that these organizations should not be able to view the communications from other organizations. Imagine for example that the planner needs to coordinate a social with a restaurant outside of the event venue. There is no reason that the event venue should see the communications between the event planner and the restaurant. In fact, there may be serious confidentiality issues if those communications are shared with the venue.
So what happens if the planner wants to use an Event Communications Center (ECC) to be the focal point for their event? Unless the technology can support the need for information privacy, its not an acceptable solution.
When we started the ECC project, Google Sites only supported site level permissions. If a person was assigned the ability to view or edit the site, then they could view or edit all of the pages on the site. In order to protect the privacy of information between 3rd parties, we looked at combining the site level permissions with document level permissions to solve this problem. What that meant is that we could create separate documents for each 3rd party, and embed those documents on pages in the site. Then, when the 3rd party contact accessed that page, they could see the page, but if they didn’t have permission to access the document, they would see an empty page.
This was a workable solution, but its not ideal. The better solution is that 3rd party contacts should only see pages that they are entitled to see in the first place. The recent announcement for Google makes this possible. I am looking forward to using this powerful new capability to add features to the ECC project in the coming weeks.