Tag Archives: Google in Europe

How a village took a local festival to the global stage

Beautiful, ancient and home to fewer than 100 people, the village of Rokka in Kissamos, Chania seems like an idyllic place to live. But with young people moving away to pursue their ambitions in the city, and fewer visitors over the years, the Greek village started to feel empty. “A village is more than just trees and houses,” explains Eftichis Papadakis, who has lived in Rokka since he was a child. “It’s about the people.”

To bring life back to their home, the community decided on a yearly summer festival as the perfect meeting point for people, culture and celebration. The centerpiece would be a dramatic symphony orchestra performance at the top of an ancient archeological site.

It was a creative idea with far-reaching tourism potential, but the villagers lacked the expertise to use the web to promote their festival. With a little help from Google and Grow Greek Tourism Online, they were able to get the skills and support needed to share the festival with the whole world.

Grow Greek Tourism Online (GGTO) runs under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Education, the Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT) and in partnership with the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE). The initiative is part of Grow with Google, which provides free training and tools to help people find jobs and grow their businesses. Since 2014, GGTO has trained more than 120,000 business owners and individuals in more than 100 Greek cities, including Rokka.

Through the program’s digital skills seminar, locals learned how to promote the festival online. They created an event page where people could see photos of the village and find out more information. They also learned how to promote their businesses in the run-up to the festival, using social media and analytics. Thanks to the hard work of Rokka’s inhabitants, people from all over the world soon started making their way to the village. And as visitors sat down to enjoy the concert, a YouTube livestream made sure that anyone, anywhere in the world could experience it too. Rokka had gone from a pin on the map to a prime tourist destination.

“Their passion and creativity are what make the people of both villages unique,” says Mety Panagiotopoulou, Creative Coordinator at Giortes Rokkas. “With the help of the Internet and technology, these villages in Crete are in contact with the whole world and vice versa”. 

Tourism provides jobs for one in five Greeks, makes up 20 percent of Greek GDP and shows plenty of promise for growth. An Oxford Economics study found that tourism-related online content could boost Greece’s GDP by 3.9 percent and create more than 176,000 new jobs.

As a result of new digital skills, 67 percent of Greek businesses have already seen increased revenue or increased visitors to their website. The positive feedback we’ve received has led to partnerships with Greek universities to help train the next generation of tourism and hospitality leaders.

As Grow Greek Tourism Online expands its reach, we look forward to being part of more inspiring stories like that of Rokka, where digital skills are helping businesses grow—and bringing a community back to life.

An update on Android for search providers in Europe

Earlier this year, we presented Android users with an option to download additional search and browser apps in Google Play. This follows the changes we made to comply with the European Commission’s decision on Android. 

Next year, we'll introduce a new way for Android users to select a search provider to power a search box on their home screen and as the default in Chrome (if installed). Search providers can apply to be part of the new choice screen, which will appear when someone is setting up a new Android smartphone or tablet in Europe.

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An illustrative version of the choice screen. Providers will vary by country.

As always, people can continue to customize and personalize their devices at any time after set up. This includes selecting which apps to download, changing how apps are arranged on the screen, and switching the default search provider in apps like Google Chrome. 

The application process for search providers opens today and the new choice screen will be introduced to new Android phones in Europe in early 2020. If you are a search provider who would like to participate, please click here to learn more

Google employees take action to encourage women in computer science

When she was a teenager, Andrea Francke attended Schnupperstudium, or “Taster Week”—an event aimed at high-school girls to give them a taste of what it’s like to study computer science and work in the industry. That moment changed the course of her life. “As a teenager, Schnupperstudium was a game changer for me. That’s when I decided to study computer science,” says Andrea, who is now a senior software engineer at Google in Zürich.

This year, Andrea went back to Schnupperstudium, this time as a volunteer, to share her experience as part of a collaboration between employees at Google Zürich and the computer science department at ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich). “Offering other girls a glimpse into life as a software engineer is a cause that’s very dear to my heart,” Andrea says.

Andrea Francke and Tahmineh Sanamrad, Google software engineers, delivering a career panel for high school girls at Google Zürich.

Andrea Francke and Tahmineh Sanamrad, Google software engineers, delivering a career panel for high school girls at Google Zürich.

After this year’s Schnupperstudium event, surveys showed that seven in nine girls agreed they could learn computer science if they wanted to, said they had an interest in the subject and believed computer science could help them find a job they would enjoy. “While stereotypes about computer science abound, events like Schnupperstudium can often counter them by showing what it’s really like to work in this field,” Andrea adds.

Something as simple as having a good role model can help to encourage girls to pursue their aspirations. A study Google conducted showed that encouragement and exposure directly influence whether young women decide to go for a computer science degree.

As we look into the skills needed for the current and future workplace, we see that there will be an increased demand for workers in STEM jobs, which will greatly affect the next generation. Yet only around 30 percent of women go into STEM programs in college, so not all young people may end up represented in the field. Somewhere along the way to choosing a career path, women are losing interest in technology. 

That means there’s more to be done, especially at the stage when women are making decisions about their futures. That’s why here at Google, our employees are getting involved with events that encourage young people, and particularly women, to follow through on a computer science degree. 

In 2018 alone, more than 300 Google employees across Europe directly worked with 29,000 students and 1,000 teachers through a range of volunteering activities. These initiatives are part of Grow with Google, which gives people training, products and tools to help them find jobs, grow their businesses or careers. In Europe alone, 48 percent of the people we trained in digital skills were women, thanks to programs like WomenWill and #IamRemarkable.

As we celebrate  World Youth Skills Day and the achievements of 1.8 billion young people from age 10 to 24, we will continue working to help them prepare for their futures.

Table Stakes Europe, a program to help local journalism thrive

Editor’s note: As part of the Google News Initiative, we work with news publishing partners across the world on efforts to help the industry thrive in the digital age. The following post comes from one of our partners Vincent Peyregne, CEO of WAN-IFRA.

Trust, democracy and civic engagement often take root within communities and neighborhoods. Local news plays a critical role in this process, and high quality and financially sustainable local journalism is indispensable for local communities to thrive.

Yet, unlike global news brands, local and regional newspapers don’t have—and can’t realistically grow—audiences beyond the geographies in which they operate, which makes it challenging to keep up with the changing nature of digital journalism. 

WAN-IFRA and the Google News Initiative are joining forces to launch Table Stakes Europe, a program to help local and regional newspapers find new ways to build local audiences, prosper in a digital world and perform their crucial role in society. Started in 2015 in the U.S., our vision with Table Stakes is to show how local changes make a global impact

Table Stakes Europe will build upon the proven Table Stakes approach, plus coaching methodologies that have helped dozens of local news organizations in the U.S.  improve their audience and digital capabilities and results. The Program is designed to help small and medium local and regional newspapers in Europe transform their business, increase consumer-based revenue, and build digital capabilities.

The program will begin in October 2019, and run for 10 to 12 months. We expect at least 10 small and medium local and regional news enterprises to participate from a variety of countries and backgrounds. Small and medium local and regional newspaper organizations can apply to the program by September 1st.

WAN-IFRA and the Google News Initiative are excited about bringing this opportunity to local news organizations in Europe and are looking forward to sharing the lessons and best practices with the industry at large throughout and at the end of the program.

It’s time for a new international tax deal

Finance ministers from the world’s largest economies recently came together and agreed on the need for the most significant reforms to the global tax system in a century. That’s great news.

We support the movement toward a new comprehensive, international framework for how multinational companies are taxed. Corporate income tax is an important way companies contribute to the countries and communities where they do business, and we would like to see a tax environment that people find reasonable and appropriate.

While some have raised concerns about where Google pays taxes, Google’s overall global tax rate has been over 23 percent for the past 10 years, in line with the 23.7 percent average statutory rate across the member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Most of these taxes are due in the United States, where our business originated, and where most of our products and services are developed. The rest we paid in the roughly fifty countries around the world where we have offices helping to sell our services.

We’re not alone in paying most of our corporate income tax in our home country. That allocation  reflects long-standing rules about how corporate profits should be split among various countries. American companies pay most of their corporate taxes in the United States—just as German, British, French and Japanese firms pay most of their corporate taxes in their home countries. 

For over a century, the international community has developed treaties to tax foreign firms in a coordinated way. This framework has always attributed more profits to the countries where products and services are produced, rather than where they are consumed. But it’s time for the system to evolve, ensuring a better distribution of tax income.

The United States, Germany, and other countries have put forward new proposals for modernizing tax rules, with more taxes paid in countries where products and services are consumed. We hope governments can develop a consensus around a new framework for fair taxation, giving companies operating around the world clear rules that promote a sensible business investment.

The need for modernization isn’t limited to the technology sector. Both the OECD and a group of EU experts have concluded that the wider economy is “digitizing,” creating a need for broad-based reform of current rules. Almost all multinational companies use data, computers, and internet connectivity to power their products and services. And many are seeking ways to integrate these technologies, creating “smart” appliances, cars, factories, homes and hospitals. 

But even as this multilateral process is advancing, some countries are considering going it alone, imposing new taxes on foreign companies. Without a new, comprehensive and multilateral agreement, countries might simply impose discriminatory unilateral taxes on foreign firms in various sectors. Indeed, we already see such problems in some of the specific proposals that have been put forward.   

That kind of race to the bottom would create new barriers to trade, slow cross-border investment, and hamper economic growth. We’re already seeing this in a handful of countries proposing new taxes on all kinds of goods—from software to consumer products—that involve intellectual property. Specialized taxes on a handful of U.S. technology companies would do little more than claim taxes that are currently owed in the U.S., heightening trade tensions. But if governments work together, more taxes can be paid where products and services are consumed, in a coordinated and mutually acceptable way. This give-and-take is needed to ensure a better, more balanced global tax system.

We believe this approach will restore confidence in the international tax system and promote more cross-border trade and investment. We strongly support the OECD’s work to end the current uncertainty and develop new tax principles. We call on governments and companies to work together to accelerate this reform and forge a new, lasting, and global agreement.

Visit Anne Frank’s childhood home on Google Arts & Culture

“I hope I can entrust you with everything that I haven't been able to share with anyone, and I hope you will be a great support to me." These are the first words Anne Frank wrote in the diary she received on her thirteenth birthday. Three weeks later, the Frank family went into hiding. Since then, the story of Anne has moved people across the globe who want to learn more about her life.

Google Arts & Culture has worked with the Anne Frank House to shed a light on Anne’s life at Merwedeplein 37-2 in Amsterdam, where her family lived before they went into hiding. In honor of what would have been her 90th birthday, you can explore an online exhibit and indoor Street View imagery of Anne’s childhood home. For the first time it will be possible to view all rooms of the flat to get a unique insight into Anne Frank's home that has been restored to its original 1930s style, including the bedroom that she shared with her sister Margot.

The accompanying online exhibit  features precious insights and documents such as the only video of Anne known to exist—taken by pure coincidence at a wedding—as well as the only picture of her an her parents and sister.

The former home of the Frank family has been leased to the Dutch Foundation for Literature since 2005 and serves as a temporary home and workplace for refugee writers who cannot work freely in their own country. “It is a place where freedom, tolerance and freedom of expression are given the space to breathe,” says Ronald Leopold, general director of the Anne Foundation. The house was decorated in the style of the 1930s when the Frank family lived there.

Learn more about Anne Frank and discover of the treasures, stories and knowledge of over 2000 cultural institutions from 80 countries on Google Arts & Culture or via our iOS or Android app.

Preparing students and teachers for the jobs of the future

49-year-old primary school teacher Daiva Gaučytė is always looking for inspiration to make her computer science lessons more fun and relevant. But with minimal computer science knowledge, there was only so much she could do to teach her students this critical skill. When she heard about a course funded by Google and run by the Lithuanian Computer Society, she decided to give it a shot—now Daiva confidently uses CS Unplugged and engaging techniques to effectively teach her students.

It's becoming more important for teachers like Daiva to incorporate digital skills in the classroom. In fact, the European Commission predicts that in the next 10 to 15 years, 90 percent of all jobs will require some level of digital skills. In order to equip today's students for future jobs and opportunities, we’re giving €413,000 to 24 universities and nonprofits this year. With this funding, these institutions will deliver localized computer science professional development programs to 22,000 primary and secondary school teachers.

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These grants are part of Grow with Google’s mission to create more economic opportunity for everyone and our commitment to helping an additional one million people in Europe find a job, grow their business or build their career by 2020.

Since 2009, our Computer Science Education grants have enabled nonprofits to provide professional development opportunities for teachers across the region. To date, we saw grant awardees provide professional learning opportunities for 34,500 teachers at all levels, which in turn reached more than 800,000 students.

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Students at Cheshire East Libraries UK, ECW awardee 2018

In addition to these professional development grants, we’re partnering with the European Commission for the sixth consecutive year to offer grants during the EU Code Week, which brings coding and digital literacy to 36,000 school children in Europe in a fun and engaging way. These grants amount to €186,000, given to 33 schools and nonprofits in Europe who will deliver computer science hands-on activities for 236,000 students.

In 2018 we funded 25 organizations in 21 countries, impacting 77,000 students. In the words of one such organization, Wesseling Digital from Germany, the grant "has helped us create three new courses for children and teens in our hometown of Wesseling. We are happy that we received the chance to develop new courses, which are now growing ever since we receive the initial grant. Every year we celebrate this by participating in the European Code of Week and will continue to deliver our part in improving the digital skills of kids in our region."

To encourage and help more organizations like Wesseling Digital, we’ll keep working with our partners—schools, research institutions, NGOs and more—to deliver training that helps create more opportunity for all. Here’s a full list of the 2019 awardees.

Tools to help you vote in the EU elections

You probably turn to the web to get information about an election before casting your vote—and you want to get to the important stuff quickly, like learning more about your candidates and understanding how to cast your ballot. To help you find the information you need about the European Parliamentary elections, we’ve introduced a set of useful features across Search in the European Union.  

Helping EU citizens find election information in Search

When you search for instructions for how to vote in your country, you now see those details right on the results page. We source this data directly fromthe European Parliament to ensure you get trusted information.

Example of voting requirements that appear in Search

Example of voting requirements that appear in Search

New ways for candidates and parties to reach voters

Supporting the electoral process also means helping voters learn more about their choices in the elections by providing accurate information about candidates, political parties, and their key priorities. The German Press Agency (dpa) provides us with information from electoral commissions in each EU country on candidates and parties running in the elections. This information appears within Knowledge Panels—dedicated spaces with key information about those parties and politicians when you search for their names.

Candidates who claim their Knowledge Panels have been able to submit a brief statement outlining their electoral platform, a set of top three policy priorities, and links to relevant social media profiles. All is visible right inside the Knowledge Panel in the local language of the candidate. Political parties running in the EU elections are also able to claim ownership of their panels and use Posts on Google to provide updates in the form of videos, text, or event listings, again available right on Search.

Bringing more transparency to election advertising online

To help people better understand the election ads they see online, earlier this year we outlined a new process to verify advertisers for the EU Parliamentary elections. These verified election ads also incorporate a clear “paid for by” disclosure. We recently launched our EU political advertising transparency report, which includes a library of election ads that appear across Google, YouTube and and partner properties. We’ve made this data downloadable, so researchers and journalists can easily use and analyze the content.

With these tools, we hope that it will be easier to get the information you need in order to vote in the EU elections.

Europe talks: helping Europeans get to know each other better

Starting tomorrow, Europeans will cast their votes to elect their members of the European Parliament. In an increasingly polarized world, Europeans are less likely to understand the points of view of someone from a different city or with opposite political views. But this understanding is essential to a healthy political discourse.

The German news website Zeit Online, with technical and financial support from Google, wanted to bridge the gap. Together with 15 other European media outlets like Der Standard (Austria), Efimerida Ton Syntakton (Greece), Financial Times (UK), Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland), La Repubblica (Italy) and Politiken (Denmark), ZEIT ONLINE created “Europe talks,” a platform that brings together thousands of Europeans with diverse views to debate politics. The idea behind “Europe talks” is simple: diverse opinions make conversations more interesting and foster mutual understanding.

Europe Talks Map

Each circle on the map corresponds to a city. The size of the dot represents the size of the group who participated in Europe talks.

In total, almost 6,000 people held a cross-border debate in person or video conference on May 11. People of all ages traveled far and wide to participate: two debate partners traveled a combined distance of 4,000 kilometers for the debate, and the oldest participant was 91 years old. 500 participants met their debate partner in person at the kick-off event held at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. The event included prominent guests like ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti; Philippe Van Parijs, philosopher at the University of Louvain; or Yasmine Ouirhrane, “Young European of the Year 2019.“ ZEIT ONLINE wrapped up ten of the many interesting conversations.

Participants at Europe talks

Here are two participants at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels.

Europe talks stems from “My Country Talks,” a project initiated by ZEIT ONLINE. Since 2017, we provided funding to build the technology that powered My Country Talks, which matches people to debate, based on a questionnaire and the country they live in. Since then, nearly 80,000 people people with diverse political views have participated. Now when Europeans head to vote in the coming days, hopefully they’ll know their region and their neighbors a bit better than before.

Street View cars measure Amsterdam’s air quality

The quality of the air we breathe has a major impact on our health. Even in Amsterdam, a city where bikes make up 36 percent of the traffic, the average life span is cut short by a year as a result of polluted air. Information about air quality at the street level can help pinpoint areas where the quality is poor, which is useful for all types of people—whether you’re a bicyclist on your daily commute, a parent taking your children to a local park, or an urban planner designing new communities.

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A Street View car in Amsterdam.

Project Air View

Building on efforts in London and Copenhagen, Google and the municipality of Amsterdam are now working together to gain insight into the city’s air quality at the street level. Amsterdam already measures air quality at several points around the city. Information from two of our Street View cars in Project Air View will augment the measurements from these fixed locations, to yield a more detailed street-by-street picture of the city’s air quality.

To take the measurements, the Street View cars will be equipped with air sensors to measure nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, ultra-fine dust and soot (extremely small particles that are hardly ever measured). Scientists from Utrecht University are equipping the air sensors into the vehicles, and working with the municipality and Google to plan the routes for driving and lead the data validation and analysis. Once the data validation and analysis is complete, we’ll share helpful insights with the public, so that everyone—citizens, scientists, authorities and organizations—can make more informed decisions.

This research can spread awareness about air pollution and help people take action. For example, if the research shows differences in air quality between certain areas in the city, people could adjust their bike route or choose another time to exercise. Our hope is that small changes like this can help improve overall quality of life. For more information about Project Air View, visit g.co/earth/airquality.