Tag Archives: Google in Asia

Digital skills for Indonesia’s internet economy

Since joining Google just over a year ago, I’ve heard so many inspirational stories about the ways Indonesians are using the internet to improve their lives and others’.  Entrepreneurs like Sherly Santa—who took her durian business online—have helped make Indonesia’s internet economy the largest in Southeast Asia.  And a new generation of young Indonesians is working on big ideas for the future—like the Developer Student Club that built a flood warning app for villages in Bojonegoro.  


The challenge for Indonesia isn’t a lack of ability or ambition. It’s giving more Indonesians the digital skills to take advantage of the opportunities technology creates, something that’s a priority for us and our Indonesian partners. Training programs like Gapura Digital and Women Will have helped 1.4 million Indonesians learn digital basics and business tools. But we also want to help Indonesians gain more advanced software skills, which are in high demand from Indonesian technology companies. 


Today, at the fourth Google for Indonesia event, we announced a new initiative aimed at meeting that need. Bangkit (meaning “rise up” in Indonesian) is an intensive, six-month training program for developers run in partnership with Gojek, Tokopedia, Traveloka and leading Indonesian universities in Jakarta, Bandung, Denpasar and Yogyakarta. The program will be free, but selective—open to cohorts of 300 of the most talented developers across the country, with workshops starting in January 2020. The goal is to teach developers both technical skills in machine learning, as well as more general “soft skills” that can help them advance their career in the technology sector. Our hope is that Bangkit helps expand the pool of talent in Indonesia, making it easier for even smaller startups to hire people with the skills they need—and supporting Indonesia's digital economy as it continues to grow. 

GDCA Logos.png

Bangkit isn't the only way we're helping Indonesians get the most out of the internet. At Google for Indonesia we also announced a partnership with Telkom to expand Google Station, so it reaches more Indonesians with a network of fast, free and secure Wi-Fi points. We’ve launched Kormo, a career app that connects job seekers and employers to entry-level roles. And we’re deepening our commitment to protecting Indonesians online, announcing Stay Safer for Google Maps—a feature that lets people share their location with friends and family, and alerts them when their driver deviates from their chosen route by more than 500 meters.

With 152 million Indonesians online—and more joining them every day—there’s great potential for Indonesia to shape its future with new technologies, growing digital industries and jobs. It starts with expanding skills and opportunities more widely across the country—and we’re committed to playing our part. 

A new home for Japan’s startups

Google CEO Sundar Pichai meets Japanese founders from Sansan and Cinnamon

Japan has always been a nation of forward thinkers. From the bullet train and the walkman to the lithium ion battery, Japanese ideas have shaped the modern world—and now a new generation of Japanese entrepreneurs is carrying on that legacy, building businesses around technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning.  

To support these talented founders as they grow and scale globally, we’re opening the doors on a Google for Startups Campus in Tokyo. Joining a worldwide network with locations from London to São Paulo to Seoul, it’s a platform for Japanese startups to develop their ideas, access Google resources, and build connections with like-minded entrepreneurs.  

We’ve been supporting Japanese startups for some time now: Cinnamon uses AI to help businesses work more efficiently and Lily MedTech is working on a device that could better detect breast cancer at an early stage. The new Campus means we’re better able to help many more founders as they take their ventures forward. It’s co-located with our new office in Shibuya, so we can offer Google training, mentoring and tools. And it’ll provide a welcoming, inclusive environment for startups from all backgrounds. Over 37% of our Campus members globally are women—a higher percentage than in most other parts of the startup community, but one we’re working hard to increase every year. 

Starting in 2020, the Tokyo Campus will also be home to a new Google for Startups Accelerator, an intensive three-month boot camp for startups working in AI. The goal of the Accelerator program is to give founders with established products the tools to prepare for the next phase of growth, and ultimately contribute to a stronger Japanese economy. We’re confident the program’s focus on AI and machine learning will advance ways of applying technology to tackle social, economic and environmental challenges—an area where we believe Japan can lead the world. Applications open today.

The launch of a Google for Startups Campus in Tokyo is part of a bigger story, with Japan making technology, digital skills, and AI central to its ambitions for the future. Eighteen years ago, Japan was where we opened the first Google office outside the United States. Today, our team here is much bigger, but we're just as focused on making sure Japan has the digital tools and services it needs. We're helping Japanese businesses adopt cloud computing. We're supporting AI research at academic institutions and universities. And we've committed to train 10 million Japanese workers in digital skills by 2022, through the Grow with Google program we launched earlier this year. 

We’re looking forward to Campus contributing to these efforts, giving Japanese startups the opportunity to make their ideas real—and continue shaping the world like so many of Japan’s entrepreneurs before them. 

A call for the next big ideas in news

This time last year, we launched the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge, part of our $300 million commitment to help journalism thrive in the digital age.  

With our first challenge, we funded23 projects focused on diversifying reader revenue in the Asia Pacific region. Since then, we’ve launched challenges in North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, receiving more than 1,300 project submissions from 77 countries--and recently selected 64 more projects for funding. 

Today, we’re opening our second challenge in Asia Pacific. This time, we’re calling for projects which aim to increase reader engagement. The more deeply people engage with the stories they read, the more likely they are to return to a news website, visit more pages during a session, sign up for an email newsletter and become subscribers.  

We’re interested in hearing about creative ideas around reader engagement, including but not limited to personalization, analytics, audio and loyalty programs. And the Innovation Challenge is open to organizations of every size--startups, NGOs, broadcasters, traditional news publishers and freelancers--so long as they can clearly show the impact of the project from a reader’s perspective, and deliver it within a year. 

The application window for project submissions is open until January 7, 2020, and you can read more about the eligibility, rules and criteria and funding at the Google News Initiative website or at a town hall on November 13. 

To find out more about the results of the first round of funding, we spoke to Disha Mullick of Khabar Lahariya, who has created a new subscription model around a video series about young people in rural India.

How did you develop this subscription model?

We initially talked about aiming the subscription model at our primary, rural audience. The dream is for this audience to become our strongest, most loyal subscribers. But discussions internally with the Google News Initiative and with our peers in digital media pushed us to test the idea with our urban, English-speaking audience first. 

Our vision is to take hyper-local content and voices to a broader audience through immersive video storytelling. Embedded reporters would help link these local stories to global shifts in gender and power, technology, environmental change and financial instability. If this platform works, we’ll adapt it to other audiences who may take longer to come around to the idea of paying for content. 

What is the long-term plan for growing your subscriber base?      

We plan to create a model that combines the features of a membership model and a digital subscription or paywall--one that’s inclusive of both rural and urban audiences willing to pay for good quality, hyper-local content. We also hope to be able to provide other features, like workshops and fellowships, travel opportunities—perhaps even access to small grants for media or other entrepreneurial projects. 

What advice would you offer the next group of reporters looking to increase reader engagement?  

I can't over-emphasize the impact of investing in local content. Even if that's not what gets monetized easily, it’s what builds trust and credibility, which have been shaken by the amount of misinformation floating about. I also think the way we engage readers needs to be responsible, to counter the state's imperative to control social media or the flow of information on the internet--which may be knee-jerk reactions to the violence and abuse we see. 

The Singapore students using Cloud for smarter recycling

Coming up with big ideas in technology used to take the kind of time and money that only large companies had.  Now open source tools—like TensorFlow, which provides access to Google’s machine learning technology—mean anyone with a smart concept has the opportunity to make it a reality. Just ask Arjun Taneja and Vayun Mathur, two friends and high school students from Singapore with a big ambition to improve recycling rates.  

Arjun and Vayun realized that separating waste is sometimes confusing and cumbersome—something that can derail people's good intentions to recycle. Using TensorFlow, they built a “Smart Bin” that can identify types of trash and sort them automatically. The Smart Bin uses a camera to take a picture of the object inserted in the tray, then analyzes the picture with a Convolutional Neural Network, a type of machine learning algorithm designed to recognize visual objects.  

To train the algorithm, Arjun and Vayun took around 500 pictures of trash like glass bottles, plastic bottles, metal cans and paper. It’s a process that would normally be laborious and expensive. But by using Google’s Colab platform for sharing resources and advice, the students could access a high powered graphics processor (GPU) in the cloud for free. They were also able to access Tensor Processing Units, Google’s machine learning processors which power services like Translate, Photos, Search, Assistant and Gmail. These tools helped their system analyze large amounts of data at once, so the students could correct the model if it didn't recognize an object. As a result, the model learned to classify the objects even more quickly. Once the Smart Bin was trained, all they had to do was place an object in the tray, and the system could predict whether it was metal, plastic, glass or paper—with the answer popping up on a screen. 

Building on their successful trials at home, Arjun and Vayun showcased the Smart Bin with a stall at last week’s Singapore Maker Faire, and they continue to work on other projects. It’s a great example of how tools available in the cloud are cutting out processes and costs that might have held back this kind of invention in the past.

Media literacy for Asia’s next generation

When I served as U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, it often struck me that young people there had vastly more access to news and information than I did when I first lived in that country 20 years earlier—a sign of how things can change for the better from generation to generation.  


The internet has enabled people in Vietnam and across Asia Pacific to learn, connect and express themselves in ways we couldn’t have imagined in the past. We need to keep expanding those opportunities, but we also need to help the next generation explore the internet with confidence as they come online.


As Google marks UNESCO Global Media and Information Literacy Week, we’re building on our efforts to promote media literacy and combat misinformation. We’re constantly working to make a difference with our own products, like improving our algorithms to prioritize authoritative sourcesand original reporting in search results. At the same time, through a $10 million Google News Initiative media literacy campaign funded by Google.org, we’re supporting expert organizations across the region as they develop new approaches for teaching media literacy. 


In Southeast Asia, this includes programs run by the Indonesian Anti-Slander Society and the Child and Youth Media Institute in Thailand to create video teaching tools for local schools, building on a pilot program we developed with the University of Hong Kong. And today we took the next step, announcing that Google.org will support a new initiative run by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication in the Philippines. The funding will enable the AIJC to hold “school summits” across the country, training 300 high school teachers so they can teach media literacy to around 9,000 students each year—helping them tell the difference between misinformation and reliable news online.


We asked Ramon Tuazon, President of the AIJC, to tell us a bit more.  


In 2017, the Philippines became the first country in Asia to make media and information literacy (MIL) part of its high school curriculum. Why is this so important?  


When we first started discussing adding MIL to the curriculum in 2013, we knew we had to address misrepresentation and propaganda in traditional media as well as social media. But we also had to deal with the new challenges the internet has created, including the fact that young people are becoming media literate online before they learn ethics and responsibility in how to use technology.  


With the new campaign, what do you hope students and teachers get out of the experience? 

I hope the students gain new perspectives and better understand how to verify news, deal with their biases and be sensitive to misinformation and disinformation. For teachers, I hope the training helps them learn new, creative and engaging teaching approaches.  Over the long term, I hope both teachers and students will be able to go out and challenge misinformation on social media and other platforms.  

What’s next after this initial campaign? 

We’ll be working closely with the Department of Education to continue improving how we teach media and information literacy as part of the curriculum, including through new tools and better teacher training.  Our challenge is to expand this new initiative nationwide.

New heights for Southeast Asia’s internet entrepreneurs

If there’s a story that sums up the impact of technology in Southeast Asia, it’s Tan Thi Shu’s.


Shu Tan founded Sapa O’Chau, a trekking company in northern Vietnam, but initially struggled to attract customers.  She signed up for digital skills training through the Accelerate Vietnam Digital 4.0 program—and since adopting online tools she's raised awareness of her tours, increased sales, created work for her local community, and attracted more tourists to the beautiful Sapa region.    


Southeast Asia has always buzzed with entrepreneurial energy. But technology today is giving small businesses like Sapa O’Chau the chance to grow in ways that wouldn’t have been possible in the past. The latest e-Conomy SEA 2019 report, published by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company, shows that the regional internet economy reached $100 billion for the first time this year, with 360 million people now online—100 million more than just four years ago. And that momentum is only going to continue as a new generation comes of age and more people outside big cities move online. The report forecasts that by 2025 the regional internet economy will have tripled to $300 billion and account for 8.5 percent of regional GDP (more than double what it is today). 


Online businesses have hit new heights

All Southeast Asia’s internet industries are growing strongly, but e-commerce and ride hailing are the standouts. More than 150 million Southeast Asians are now buying what they need online. And more than 40 million people now order transport, food and other services on demand, compared with just 8 million in 2015. 

The next wave of start-ups is coming

Behind the 11 fast-growing Southeast Asian technology companies valued at more than $1 billion, there’s a wave of more than 3,000 start-ups—promising businesses that have received $7 billion in funding since 2015. They’re operating in sectors like education, health, e-commerce and financial technology, and they’ll need continued investment, tools and support to keep growing.  


Opportunity is spreading beyond the big cities

Up until now, seven major metropolitan areas have made up more than half of Southeast Asia’s internet economy (despite accounting for just 15 percent of the total population). But between now and 2025, the internet economy is forecast to grow twice as fast outside cities as inside them, bringing new jobs and opportunities as well as greater demand for education and training. 


A new generation is shaping the future

Many of the 100 million people who’ve come online in Southeast Asia since 2015 are mobile-savvy teenagers. This new generation has influenced shifts like the rise of video apps, which doubled in popularity over the past three years. And with 10 million more young people turning 15 each year, it's a generation that will keep Southeast Asia at the forefront of digital trends.  


Access to online financial services is growing

The online financial services industry is catching up to other sectors of the internet economy, as digital payments grow from $600 billion in 2019 to a forecast $1 trillion by 2025.  However, there are still almost 300 million Southeast Asians with limited or no access to the formal banking system, and it will take collaboration between business and governments to build systems that can meet their needs.  


Despite the incredible progress noted in this year’s report, we know there’s still a lot of work to do to ensure Southeast Asia’s internet economy reaches its potential. Whether it’s providing support for small businesses to grow, teaching Southeast Asians digital skills, expanding Internet access through Google Station or advocating for smart policy and regulation, we’re looking forward to helping bring the benefits of technology to millions more people across this amazing region.

A more accessible internet for Indians

Rama Devi has taught more than a thousand women how to use the internet in her role as a saathi—now she’s helping farmers become more productive. Amita Raghu has used digital tools to grow Krishne Tassels, her traditional saree tassel business, and trained 700 women in the art of tassel-making. Rajesh Jain, winner of Google’s AI Impact Challenge, has created an app that helps cotton farmers identify pests just by snapping a photo.


These are some of the more than 460 million Indians using the internet to search, create, solve problems, build businesses—and help others. They show how technology isn’t just driving economic growth in India, but creating a ripple effect of opportunity across communities. 


Continuing that momentum was the focus of this year’s Google for India event, where we shared announcements aimed at making the internet more accessible, inclusive and empowering for Indians.   


Expanding reliable Wi-Fi in India


Four years ago, we launched Google Station: a partnership with Railtel and Indian Railways to bring fast, reliable and secure WiFi to 400 train stations. We hit that milestone last May, and we’ve also expanded the program beyond train stations to include thousands of public buildings and spaces around the country.  Today we announced the next step: a partnership with BSNL to bring high-speed public WiFi to villages in Gujarat, Bihar and Maharashtra—places that haven’t had a WiFi connection before. 


We also announced an initiative to help the hundreds of millions of Indians who use 2G phones get the information they need, without requiring data or an internet connection. The Vodafone-Idea Phone Line—supported by the Google Assistant—enables Vodafone-Idea users to call a single number (000 0800 9191000) free of charge at any time, and ask for everything from sports scores, traffic conditions and weather forecasts to help with homework. The service will be available across India in English and Hindi.


Speaking India’s languages


As we improve access to the internet, we also need to make it relevant and helpful, with information Indians need in the languages they speak.  


For many Indians, searching by voice rather than text is their first choice. Two years ago, we introduced voice search in nine Indian languages on Google Assistant.  Hindi is now the second-most used Assistant language globally after English. And from today, you can simply say, "Hey Google, talk to me in Hindi” (or the Indian language of your choice) to start using the Assistant, without needing to dig around in settings.


We’re also adding more Indian languages to the Google apps Indians use, including Discover, Lens and Bolo (an AI-powered teaching app that’s already helped 700,000 young Indians learn to read).   


Lens


Building platforms for economic opportunity

One of the biggest factors in India’s booming internet economy has been the rise of digital payments—from 17 million transactions in August 2017 to more than 900 million last month.

We launched Google Pay to support this growth, giving Indians a fast, safe and reliable way of making and receiving payments.  It’s now used by millions of people to complete transactions with hundreds of thousands of offline and online merchants. But we think there’s an even bigger role for Google Pay as a tool to support small businesses. 

Starting today, we’re introducing the Spot platform: a way for businesses to create experiences and engage their customers within the Google Pay app.  Popular services like UrbanClap, Goibibo, MakeMyTrip, RedBus, Eat.Fit and Oven Story are already on board through our early access program, and we’re excited to see how other organizations use Spot to make life easier and more convenient for the Indians who rely on them. 

We’re deepening our support for small businesses through a new app called Google Pay for Business: a free and easy way for small merchants and storefronts to enable digital payments without the hassle of time-consuming verification process.  And we’re stepping up our support for job seekers too - introducing a Spot on Google Pay to help people find entry level positions that aren’t always easily discoverable online. We’ll be partnering with the National Skill Development Corporation to make sure Skill India students can take advantage of it. 

Spot on Google Pay

Merchants can use Spot on Google Pay to provide a better customer experience. 

These are just some of our efforts to help more Indians share in the benefits of the internet economy, and we’re looking forward to continuing to contribute to India’s extraordinary progress and growth. 

Backing Asia Pacific’s emerging newsroom leaders

Across Asia Pacific, a new generation of journalists is telling the region’s stories and tackling the challenges facing the news industry. The Google News Initiative (GNI) Newsroom Leadership Program, a collaboration between GNI and the Columbia School of Journalism, was established to develop the business and product expertise of these emerging newsroom leaders. Today we’re announcing the 2019-2020 Program fellows and sharing more about their projects.  


The projects they chose are as diverse as their backgrounds. These journalists hail from Pakistan to Japan, India to Australia. They’ll be looking at how digital tools can make great storytelling even better, championing socially-conscious reporting and investigating new approaches to political polling. And they’ll explore new membership and revenue models for news, helping fund the future of journalism in their countries. 


As they work on their projects, the fellows will take part in seminars and develop professional networks across the region. To find out more, we spoke to Raju Narisetti, the Director of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism and Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia, who helped develop the program. 


What are the skills you think emerging newsroom leaders need to be successful today?

The most critical skill is an understanding of the business of journalism and the forces shaping the industry. They also need to hone the ability to think of content as a product, and the willingness to let data inform their decisions. These “hard” skills need to be coupled with “power skills” like developing diverse teams, leading with purpose and managing relentless change.


How do you think the GNI Newsroom Leadership Program addresses this?

The fellows will experience a mix of theory and practice in seminars during their in-residence weeks at Columbia School of Journalism.  Practitioners as well as academics will deliver the sessions, which are specifically designed for the media industry. Topics will range from revenue streams and media sustainability to building video, audience and analytics frameworks and teams for the next decade. They’ll also get hands-on workshops on developing leadership and “managing up.”


What words of advice do you have for the fellows as they prepare to go through the program?

Be really present during the in-residency classroom weeks, because your day job will still be waiting for you. Think of the other participants as a learning and sharing opportunity that can become a professional support network during the year and beyond. And have strong beliefs (about your project or the news business), but hold them loosely, so you can embrace new ideas and solutions.


Caption: Our 2019-2020 Fellows, as pictured from left to right, starting from the top left: Gyanu Adhikari, Phillip O’Sullivan, Akane Imamura, Betina Hughes, Danielle Cronin, Marium Chaudhry, Nitya Thirumalai, Hyuntaek Lee, Ragamalika Karthikeyan, Yusuf Wijanarko, Anisa Menur Maulani, and Lynn D’Cruz.

“Great Sporting Land” tours Australia’s sports-mad history

Australians have a passion for sports—so much that it was perfectly normal for the Prime Minister to give the entire country the day off when they won a boat race back in 1983. Over generations, Australia’s favorite pastimes have shaped the country’s identity, values and culture. Along with the Melbourne Cricket Club, Australian Football League, National Portrait Gallery and the North Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club, Google Arts & Culture is showcasing the people, moments and places that led Australia to become the “Great Sporting Land” it is today. 

The exhibition features over 11,000 archived images and videos, and more than 100 original stories from more than 30 partners. To do so, Google’s Art Camera technology has been on a marathon between sporting institutions across the country to capture over 200 pieces of art, archival materials and artifacts in high resolution gigapixel quality.

Join cricket legend Steve Waugh who will take you on a tour of the archives of the world-famous Bradman Museumwhere you can zoom in to the hand-etched scores on the back of Don Bradman’s first bat. Or take a trip to a changing room at The Sydney Cricket Ground, where visiting players have drawn their standout batting and bowling figures on the changing room door. You can also follow Steve Waugh through a video seriesthat offers never-before-seen insight into his work and memories of the sport. 

Then put on your cossies or your togs (swimwear) to feel the vibes of a trip into Summers Past from the National Archives of Australia —an exhibition celebrating the golden days in the Australian sunshine. The surf’s up when you Watch the Waves, a selection of photographs by the National Archives, or explore the North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club in Google Street View.


For Australians, sports are a part of national identity, pride and belonging, whether played by everyday people or world known icons. To discover more moments from Australia’s sporting history by visiting g.co/GreatSportingLand, or download the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS or Android.

Tackling cardiovascular disease with AI

Westmead team with Google’s Mel Silva and Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Hon Karen Andrews MP


Heart disease and cardiovascular health are a major challenge around the world, and in Australia, one in six people is affected by cardiovascular disease. The University of Sydney’s Westmead Applied Research Centre is working on a digital health program for people at risk of cardiovascular disease, and they recently received a $1 million Google.org grant that will help them apply AI to give patients more personalised advice and support.  

We sat down with Professor Clara Chow, Professor of Medicine and Academic Director at Westmead Applied Research Centre, and Dr. Harry Klimis, a cardiologist and Westmead PhD student, to hear more about the program.   

Why is cardiac health such a big issue? 

Professor Chow: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of premature death and disability worldwide. In Australia, cardiovascular disease affects approximately 4.2 million people, has resulted in more than 1 million hospitalizations, and caused 1 in 3 deaths in 2016. That’s one death every 12 minutes, and these deaths are largely preventable.

How are you proposing to address this problem? 

Chow: Our goal is to support people at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease by encouraging them to adopt healthy habits, such as diet and exercise, and connecting them to health services when they need them. Data and mobile technology means we can do this in ways that weren’t possible before. 

Dr Klimis: We’ve already developed mobile health text-message programs using basic algorithms to customise programs to individuals. We now plan to use machine learning and AI to keep improving how we support participants and help them self-monitor measures like cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, physical activity, diet and smoking.

How will you use the funding and support from Google.org? 

Chow: The grant will help us create digital tools that enable clinicians and health services to provide personalized advice without the need to meet face to face. Initially, we’ll link data from existing secondary sources like hospital and clinic presentations to create programs tailored to individuals, and the system will learn from there. 

How does AI help?  

Klimis: An example would be if “John” went to the emergency room at hospital with chest pain and had type 2 diabetes, obesity and hypertension. After being assessed and treated, he could be flagged as a patient at high risk of heart attack and added to the mobile health prevention program. The AI program would learn from John’s activities and deliver health advice via SMS or through an app. If John was less active at a particular time of day, the program might register this and prompt him to take a 5-minute walk. 

What do you think is going to be the most challenging part of your project?

Klimis: Making sure we have reliable enough data to support a program capable of AI and machine learning. Our original program sent out standard text messages to over 3000 people, which allowed us—with their permission—to collect data on their characteristics, how they respond to different messages, and how this affects health outcomes. That data will be crucial in building an AI model for the current project.  

What are you most optimistic about?

Chow: We have the potential to help more people at risk of cardiovascular disease by giving them high-quality prevention programs developed by clinicians and researchers, without requiring frequent clinic or hospital visits. Over the long term, mobile and digital health solutions could reduce hospitalizations, bring down healthcare costs, and make healthcare more accessible.