Author Archives: Lie Junius

New data on data centers: How Google helps regions grow

Regions across Europe have changed throughout the decades, and so has the local job market. Technology companies can help address the challenges brought on by this change: through training people in digital skills, improving connectivity and by continuing to build large-scale data center facilities across Europe. To explore the impact of these data centers, we hosted an event, “Global technology, local jobs,” along with Debating Europe, today in Brussels.

At this event we heard from EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu, regional development experts, and the consultancy Copenhagen Economics, who just published new research (commissioned by Google) on how investment in data centers, renewable energy and fiber is impacting Europe's regions.

Since 2007, Google has spent EUR 3.2 billion on constructing and operating data centers in Saint-Ghislain-Mons, Belgium; Hamina-Kotka, Finland; Dublin, Ireland; and Eemshaven, Netherlands. We’ve also spent  EUR 1.1 billion on European fiber networks to connect them, and thanks to signing power purchase agreements, enabled EUR 1 billion investment in renewable energy projects.

Copenhagen Economics crunched the numbers on what this means for citizens, and found that Google’s data center and fiber investments have supported economic activity in Europe by EUR 5.4 billion in gross domestic product in total for the 10-year period from 2007 to 2017. Those same investments supported full-time 6,600 jobs per year on average over the decade, with a significant number of those jobs related to construction, with at peak moments more than 1,500 workers a day working on building one site. You can read the whole report on our data center site.

Moreover, when Google grows, these communities grow—we support and work with local business, education, social enterprises and culture. At today’s event, Matt Brittin, Google’s president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, shared the story of Frederic, who works in our Saint-Ghislain-Mons data center in Belgium. He grew up in Quievrain, studied in Mons, lives with his wife and children nearby and recently oversaw the construction of a new solar facility at the site—the second largest in Wallonia—which was built by a local firm.

“I’m sharing Frederick’s story because it demonstrates one of the things that make me proudest about our data centers,” Matt told attendees. “The impact they have on the people who work in and around them. This is about investing in real people and communities to help build a better future for everyone.”

Frederic’s story is far from unique. Google currently employs thousands of people across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in 35 countries, 56 offices and speaking 67 different languages. And that local presence makes all the difference, as Copenhagen Economics discovered. "A large and well-known company like Google investing in a region can influence others to to do so as well, as they can tap into existing talent, suppliers and resources. As European Commissioner Corina Crețu said at the event, "It's not true that automation only causes job losses—it is also important to highlight that tech can bring jobs and help local communities.”

Google is committed to Europe, and we want to do more support communities like the 4,400 children who have received coding and robotics lessons through Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, near our Eemshaven data center, thanks to our community grants program. And there are many more stories from community members near our data centers about their experiences of having Google in their backyard.

Google's EU data center community: Stories from Belgium

Google's EU data center community: Stories from Belgium

The Digital Single Market is essential in order for everyone in Europe to harness the benefits of tech. We look forward to the innovations that will be encouraged by its completion, and will continue our work to reinvigorate and invest in regions across the continent.

A new skills agenda for Europe: getting everyone digital

Succeeding online shouldn’t just be for the privileged few. We want all Europeans to benefit - and digital skills play a big role in this. Today, the European Commission launched its proposals for a new skills agenda and we welcome their plans. Digital skills, one focus area of the plans, make people more employable, are indispensable for many new jobs being created, and fuel economic growth.

At Google, we’re committed to ensuring Europeans have the right skills for this digital age. The process starts with projects like Digital Active in France, aimed at training young people looking for jobs. And we’ve partnered with more than 50 European universities to train students. Our initiatives across 25 European countries result in stories like the Italian Levaggi brothers, who have been making handcrafted chairs for over half a century and increased overseas exports by 30% in major markets after completing our digital skills training.

We’ve made a commitment to train 2 million Europeans in digital skills and are a proud member of the European Commission’s Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. A rounded education should prepare young people for online life -- it's as essential as literacy and numeracy. And it should be accessible to everyone: we’re particularly pleased that more than 40% of participants in our online workshops so far have been women. And it’s not just for the young - for instance in The Netherlands, of the thousands of people that attended training sessions in Dutch cities, over half are older than 45 years.

We believe all this dovetails with the aims set out by the European Commission. Europe is looking to the future, and good digital skills give people the tools to excel in their jobs, start their own businesses and fully participate in contemporary life.

As emphasized in this recent report by BCG, we need to get better at matching the skills of the workforce with the skills required in new jobs. That is key to making the most out of the digital opportunity. We want to contribute to more stories like the ones above, and are creating various programmes to nurture them. We welcome the Commission's proposals and look forward to working with the next generation of digitally-skilled Europeans.

Our commitment to fighting illegal hate speech online

In the offline world, it’s usually clear what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Those boundaries are just as important online, which is why today, together with the European Commission, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter we signed a Code of Conduct which will help combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe.

We’re committed to tackling this important issue. We have always prohibited illegal hate speech on our platforms, and we have Community Guidelines that set the rules of the road on YouTube, including prohibitions on hate speech, terrorist recruitment and incitement to violence.

European Justice Commissioner Vĕra Jourová (center) signed the Code of Conduct, as did representatives from (l to r) Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft and Google

We’ve built efficient systems to review the majority of valid notifications in less than 24 hours, and to remove illegal content. We also cooperate with legal process so that governments are able to do their investigatory work and request removal of information that may violate local law. Beyond review processes, we also support NGOs working on counterspeech initiatives.

We welcome the Commission’s commitment to developing self-regulatory approaches to fighting hate speech online. We look forward to working with them and civil society groups to fight illegal content online, improve the experience online for our users, and ensure that there is no space on our platforms for hateful content.