Harout Chitilian is Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre’s designated information technology honcho -
.com, .qc.ca, .ca — so why not .mtl?
A city of Montreal official says city hall will explore the possibility of creating its own Internet domain with the abbreviation for Montreal.
“It’s an interesting possibility for Montreal,” city councillor Harout Chitilian, the vice chairperson of the city executive committee, said on Tuesday. Chitilian is Mayor Denis Coderre’s designated information technology honcho at city hall, responsible for the mayor’s “smart city” initiative.
“We have to be creative to promote Montreal, and it’s a tool that we’ll take a serious look at.”
He made the comment as New York City launched the pre-sale of .nyc as a suffix for New Yorkers’ Web Addresses on Monday.
A domain name for Montreal is moot for the moment because new applications for city domain names are no longer available with the non-profit Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, which co-ordinates global Internet naming systems.
However, industry insiders say there is talk that ICANN is considering another round of new domain registrations in the future. It’s just not likely to happen this year, they say.
But that gives Montreal time to plan a .mtl initiative, if and when an opportunity comes around again.
A city domain name would allow local businesses, for example, to create a website address like: company.mtl.
It’s a potential revenue-generator for the city given that businesses, organizations and individuals pay for their Internet domain names.
New York appears to be the first city in the United States to register a city domain name, but other cities in the world have gone down the same path, including Berlin (. berlin), London (. london) and Paris (. paris).
The Quebec-based group PointQuebec has been promoting the idea of a .quebec domain name.
The door opened to cities to register a personalized domain name in 2012 when restrictions were removed on so-called generic top-level domains, or gTLDs. A gTLD is the suffix at the end of a Web Address, such as .com or .ca.
“The new .nyc domain presents a unique opportunity for New Yorkers, our small businesses and organizations throughout the five boroughs to brand their identity, showcase their affiliation with the city — and to ‘own’ who they are online,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news release on Monday to launch a 60-day pre-sale that allows businesses, organizations and residents with a physical address in New York City to claim a .nyc domain name before it’s available for sale to the general public starting on Oct. 8.
New York, which began working on the initiative under de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, partnered with a private business that offers domain name registry services. The company, Neustar Inc., paid the US$185,000 application fee to ICANN, along with related approval costs.
New York, meanwhile, promotes the domain name and is guaranteed at least US$3.6 million over an initial five-year period under its contract with the company. The deal can be renewed for two five-year extensions.
And if .nyc proves particularly profitable, the city is to receive 40 per cent of gross annual revenue from domain registrations, advertising and other related business.
Chitilian said Montreal would also seek a private partner to pony up the cash to register a city domain name if the project is deemed viable.
“But everything we’ll do will be part of a global strategy,” Chitilian said, noting that the city is already working on a web-based 3-1-1 service to process Montrealers’ requests about municipal services and a web-based snow-removal application to give real-time updates on operations. (City officials will meet on Aug. 16 to evaluate proposals for the new snow-removal app, Chitilian said.)
Domain names hearkening to cities and even professions, such as .plumber, have several benefits, said Elizabeth Driscoll, vice-president of corporate communications in Arizona for GoDaddy, one of many companies that sell registrations for domain names to the public via a registry service such as Neustar. GoDaddy says it has 12 million customers worldwide, including in Quebec.
City domain names promote city branding, Driscoll wrote in an email response to The Gazette. “We definitely view new gTLDs as a great way to establish a more specific online identity.”
BY LINDA GYULAI, GAZETTE CIVIC AFFAIRS REPORTER