Category Archives: Google Canada Blog

News and notes from Google Canada

Celebrating Canadian Googlers: Meet Natasha Walji

Editor's Note: To celebrate Google Canada’s 20th Anniversary, we're profiling some of the powerful, dynamic and creative Canadians at Google.

For Natasha Walji, paying it forward is at the core of who she is and has shaped her career path. Inspired by her high school math tutor, she knows the impact that mentorship can have, and in her case, was the reason she studied computer science and pursued a career in technology.

Today, Natasha holds several titles, Chief Mom Officer (CMO as she refers to it), Director of Telco, Government & Tech at Google, and a member of several Board of Directors. And she’s inspiring everyone she meets along the way from co-workers to the next generation. Her passion has led her to dedicate some of her time at Google to being the Executive Sponsor for volunteering projects. And when the pandemic hit last year, she (along with other Google Canada executives passionate about giving back) rapidly mobilized a group of Googlers across our three Canadian offices to drive tremendous results, helping over 1,500 Canadian nonprofits succeed with Google for Nonprofits.

How would you describe your job at a dinner party to people who don't work in tech?
I lead a team that works with large customers to help them drive results, and transform their business, through marketing using Google products and platforms. Currently, the industries I work with are telecom, tech and the public sector.

Was there something or someone specific that pushed you toward your career in tech?
I am very fortunate to have had an amazing mentor, who I'm still in touch with to this day. We first met when I was in high school, I was really struggling with math and my family couldn’t afford a tutor. I happened to meet this math professor within my community and he offered to tutor me for free. Through his guidance and patience, he ended up turning me from a struggling student in math into an A student. I really valued his mentorship and one day, he said to me: “look, you are doing really well in math now, and I really think you should consider studying computer science”. I didn’t know it then, but his mentorship changed the whole trajectory of my career, and I ended up pursuing computer science through my post-secondary studies.

He sounds like an amazing mentor! What was your experience like when you studied computer science, were there a lot of women exploring it?
There weren’t a lot of women in the field back then, and because I discovered computer science when I was around 17, I had to work really hard to catch up to the men in my program — some of which had been coding since they were around 8 years old. By the time I graduated I had a 4.0+ GPA because of the time and effort I put in. This was a reminder that hard work and dedication can lead to success.

One of the amazing things about Google, is that we’re encouraged to go beyond our role with 20 percent projects. Can you tell us about what this looks like for you? 
Absolutely! Giving back is something that I’m very passionate about. I’ve been serving the community for over 20 years. It’s always been a big part of my life, which was in large part because of my family history of service and because of the mentor that I had in high school. After I got better at math, he shared something very profound with me one day, he said: ‘I want you to think about how you are going to use your education and knowledge to serve others.’ This really resonated and gave me a strong sense of purpose and inspiration from a young age. So when I joined Google, I knew I had found my soulmate company because Google has an incredible impact on serving the world through accessible information; it also continues to inspire me 10+ years later because I lead impactful work fueling our economy and also have the chance to give back to the community.

Google encourages us to explore projects outside of our specific function — this is the famous “20-percent time” concept of our company's innovation culture. Currently, I spend a percentage of my time as the Executive Sponsor for volunteering projects in Canada. I’m really passionate about this, and when COVID-19 started to impact the Canadian economy, a small group of Googlers started to think about who’s helping the organizations that help Canada’s most vulnerable people. The need was greater than before and with the help of 120+ Googler volunteers across our Canadian offices, we hit the ground running and created an infrastructure to support nonprofits during the pandemic through Google for Nonprofits. Many Canadian nonprofits were unaware of free tools, resources, and free Google Ads that are available through this program, so we’ve been focused on getting them setup to tap into these benefits.

One of the things that I love about the people I work with is that Googlers are helpful, willing to give back, and always raising their hands to get involved.

What advice would you give to women pursuing a career in technology?

Stay curious and be open to what technology can bring, experiment and don’t be afraid to try new things! Technology has the potential to solve many world problems at scale and representation matters.

For me, I didn’t always know what my career would look like. I firmly believe that my mentor changed this for me and helped me understand the possibilities. I would encourage women and young girls to seek mentorship, surround yourself with people that support and inspire you.

When you speak about your work and the tech industry, you light up, you can see there’s a lot of passion, what do you love most about working in tech? So many things! 
Technology is not only fun, but it can also be used to solve so many problems, it’s endless. The skills you learn in tech are transferable, no matter what you do — this is why I think exploring STEM at a young age is really valuable.

I always tell young adults, if you can’t major in computer science at least minor in it. All industries are being transformed by technology, so it’s an important set of skills to have in your tool box for the future.

Celebrating Canadian Googlers: Meet Natasha Walji

Editor's Note: To celebrate Google Canada’s 20th Anniversary, we're profiling some of the powerful, dynamic and creative Canadians at Google.

For Natasha Walji, paying it forward is at the core of who she is and has shaped her career path. Inspired by her high school math tutor, she knows the impact that mentorship can have, and in her case, was the reason she studied computer science and pursued a career in technology.

Today, Natasha holds several titles, Chief Mom Officer (CMO as she refers to it), Director of Telco, Government & Tech at Google, and a member of several Board of Directors. And she’s inspiring everyone she meets along the way from co-workers to the next generation. Her passion has led her to dedicate some of her time at Google to being the Executive Sponsor for volunteering projects. And when the pandemic hit last year, she (along with other Google Canada executives passionate about giving back) rapidly mobilized a group of Googlers across our three Canadian offices to drive tremendous results, helping over 1,500 Canadian nonprofits succeed with Google for Nonprofits.

How would you describe your job at a dinner party to people who don't work in tech?
I lead a team that works with large customers to help them drive results, and transform their business, through marketing using Google products and platforms. Currently, the industries I work with are telecom, tech and the public sector.

Was there something or someone specific that pushed you toward your career in tech?
I am very fortunate to have had an amazing mentor, who I'm still in touch with to this day. We first met when I was in high school, I was really struggling with math and my family couldn’t afford a tutor. I happened to meet this math professor within my community and he offered to tutor me for free. Through his guidance and patience, he ended up turning me from a struggling student in math into an A student. I really valued his mentorship and one day, he said to me: “look, you are doing really well in math now, and I really think you should consider studying computer science”. I didn’t know it then, but his mentorship changed the whole trajectory of my career, and I ended up pursuing computer science through my post-secondary studies.

He sounds like an amazing mentor! What was your experience like when you studied computer science, were there a lot of women exploring it?
There weren’t a lot of women in the field back then, and because I discovered computer science when I was around 17, I had to work really hard to catch up to the men in my program — some of which had been coding since they were around 8 years old. By the time I graduated I had a 4.0+ GPA because of the time and effort I put in. This was a reminder that hard work and dedication can lead to success.

One of the amazing things about Google, is that we’re encouraged to go beyond our role with 20 percent projects. Can you tell us about what this looks like for you? 
Absolutely! Giving back is something that I’m very passionate about. I’ve been serving the community for over 20 years. It’s always been a big part of my life, which was in large part because of my family history of service and because of the mentor that I had in high school. After I got better at math, he shared something very profound with me one day, he said: ‘I want you to think about how you are going to use your education and knowledge to serve others.’ This really resonated and gave me a strong sense of purpose and inspiration from a young age. So when I joined Google, I knew I had found my soulmate company because Google has an incredible impact on serving the world through accessible information; it also continues to inspire me 10+ years later because I lead impactful work fueling our economy and also have the chance to give back to the community.

Google encourages us to explore projects outside of our specific function — this is the famous “20-percent time” concept of our company's innovation culture. Currently, I spend a percentage of my time as the Executive Sponsor for volunteering projects in Canada. I’m really passionate about this, and when COVID-19 started to impact the Canadian economy, a small group of Googlers started to think about who’s helping the organizations that help Canada’s most vulnerable people. The need was greater than before and with the help of 120+ Googler volunteers across our Canadian offices, we hit the ground running and created an infrastructure to support nonprofits during the pandemic through Google for Nonprofits. Many Canadian nonprofits were unaware of free tools, resources, and free Google Ads that are available through this program, so we’ve been focused on getting them setup to tap into these benefits.

One of the things that I love about the people I work with is that Googlers are helpful, willing to give back, and always raising their hands to get involved.

What advice would you give to women pursuing a career in technology?

Stay curious and be open to what technology can bring, experiment and don’t be afraid to try new things! Technology has the potential to solve many world problems at scale and representation matters.

For me, I didn’t always know what my career would look like. I firmly believe that my mentor changed this for me and helped me understand the possibilities. I would encourage women and young girls to seek mentorship, surround yourself with people that support and inspire you.

When you speak about your work and the tech industry, you light up, you can see there’s a lot of passion, what do you love most about working in tech? So many things! 
Technology is not only fun, but it can also be used to solve so many problems, it’s endless. The skills you learn in tech are transferable, no matter what you do — this is why I think exploring STEM at a young age is really valuable.

I always tell young adults, if you can’t major in computer science at least minor in it. All industries are being transformed by technology, so it’s an important set of skills to have in your tool box for the future.

Spot misinformation online with these tips

The COVID-19 pandemic. Elections around the world. Fact-checkers worldwide have had a busy year. More than 50,000 new fact checks surfaced on Google Search over the past year, with all fact checks receiving more than 2.4 billion impressions in Search in that timeframe.

A growing body of external research suggests that fact checks can help counter falsehoods. In a new report supported by the Google News Initiative published today, researchers Ethan Porter, Thomas Wood and Yamil Velez found that corrections in the form of fact checks reduce the effects of misinformation on beliefs about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Fact-checking isn’t just for the professionals, however. Every day, people seek evidence to confirm or refute a piece of information they’re uncertain about. Over the past 12 months, Google searches for “is it true that...” were higher than “how to make bread,” and that’s saying something given last year’s sourdough craze.

We're committed to supporting all users as they look for reliable information online, and sharing our insights with other organizations to strengthen fact checking.

With that in mind, and ahead of International Fact Checking Day on April 2, here are simple tips to help you ask the right questions so you can better spot misinformation online.

See how an image is being used in context online. You can search with an image by right clicking on a photo and selecting “Search Google for Image.” This is a simulated example to illustrate how this product works and not the actual experience.
 
Check if an image is being used in the right context.

A picture is worth 1000 words, as the old adage goes. But a picture can also be taken out of context or edited to mislead. You can search with an image by right clicking on a photo and selecting “Search Google for Image.” You can do the same on mobile by touching and holding the image. This will look for the picture to check if it has appeared online before, and in what context, so you can see if it has been altered from its original meaning.

What’s better than one source? Several! See how (and whether) different news outlets have reported on the same event so that you can get the full picture. Switch to news mode or search for a topic in news.google.com. Make sure to click through to “Full Coverage” if the option is available.

Looking for news on if Earth was visited by aliens? In this simulated example you can see how you can click to find Full Coverage on a topic, and see what other news orgs are covering it.  This GIF is a simulated example and is not the full experience of how the product works



Consult the fact-checkers.


Fact-checkers may have addressed that random story your relative sent you in the group chat – or a similar one that will point you in the right direction to find out what really happened. Try searching for the topic in the Fact Check Explorer, which collects more than 100,000 fact checks from reputable publishers around the world.

In this simulated example see how you can use Fact Check Explorer to find out if an online claim has been fact checked. This is a demonstration of how the product works and not the full experience.  

Use Google Earth or Street View to verify the location.

False stories about events happening in far-off places can spread due to our lack of familiarity with their location. If you want to get a sense of whether a photo is actually from the place it claims to be from, try checking Google Earth or look at the Street View of a location on Google Maps.

Say your friend sends you a story about Bigfoot strolling by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Searching for the Eiffel Tower on Street View will at the very least confirm that the tower doesn’t have a big red cowboy hat at the top (like it does in Paris, Texas). If that part doesn’t check out, the rest of the story might be fishy, too.

 In this simulated example, you can see how you can find the differences between the real Eiffel Tower in Paris, France and the one in Paris, Texas. This is just a demonstration and not the full product experience.

We’re committed to helping people spot misinformation online and supporting the fact-checking ecosystem.

Most recently, we provided $3 million to journalistic efforts fact-checking misinformation about the COVID-19 immunization process, with a concentration on projects that aim to reach audiences underserved by fact-checking. We also launched a GNI University Verification Challenge across Asia to boost verification skills among journalism students. In addition, Google.org helped the nonprofit Full Fact through grant funding and seven full-time pro-bono engineering fellows to boost the number of claims they could detect.

For more tips and best practices, check out the resources put together by the International Fact-Checking Network at factcheckingday.com. And if you’re a journalist, check out the GNI Training Center.



Posted by: Alexios Mantzarlis, News and Information Credibility Lead

Spot misinformation online with these tips

The COVID-19 pandemic. Elections around the world. Fact-checkers worldwide have had a busy year. More than 50,000 new fact checks surfaced on Google Search over the past year, with all fact checks receiving more than 2.4 billion impressions in Search in that timeframe.

A growing body of external research suggests that fact checks can help counter falsehoods. In a new report supported by the Google News Initiative published today, researchers Ethan Porter, Thomas Wood and Yamil Velez found that corrections in the form of fact checks reduce the effects of misinformation on beliefs about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Fact-checking isn’t just for the professionals, however. Every day, people seek evidence to confirm or refute a piece of information they’re uncertain about. Over the past 12 months, Google searches for “is it true that...” were higher than “how to make bread,” and that’s saying something given last year’s sourdough craze.

We're committed to supporting all users as they look for reliable information online, and sharing our insights with other organizations to strengthen fact checking.

With that in mind, and ahead of International Fact Checking Day on April 2, here are simple tips to help you ask the right questions so you can better spot misinformation online.

See how an image is being used in context online. You can search with an image by right clicking on a photo and selecting “Search Google for Image.” This is a simulated example to illustrate how this product works and not the actual experience.
 
Check if an image is being used in the right context.

A picture is worth 1000 words, as the old adage goes. But a picture can also be taken out of context or edited to mislead. You can search with an image by right clicking on a photo and selecting “Search Google for Image.” You can do the same on mobile by touching and holding the image. This will look for the picture to check if it has appeared online before, and in what context, so you can see if it has been altered from its original meaning.

What’s better than one source? Several! See how (and whether) different news outlets have reported on the same event so that you can get the full picture. Switch to news mode or search for a topic in news.google.com. Make sure to click through to “Full Coverage” if the option is available.

Looking for news on if Earth was visited by aliens? In this simulated example you can see how you can click to find Full Coverage on a topic, and see what other news orgs are covering it.  This GIF is a simulated example and is not the full experience of how the product works



Consult the fact-checkers.


Fact-checkers may have addressed that random story your relative sent you in the group chat – or a similar one that will point you in the right direction to find out what really happened. Try searching for the topic in the Fact Check Explorer, which collects more than 100,000 fact checks from reputable publishers around the world.

In this simulated example see how you can use Fact Check Explorer to find out if an online claim has been fact checked. This is a demonstration of how the product works and not the full experience.  

Use Google Earth or Street View to verify the location.

False stories about events happening in far-off places can spread due to our lack of familiarity with their location. If you want to get a sense of whether a photo is actually from the place it claims to be from, try checking Google Earth or look at the Street View of a location on Google Maps.

Say your friend sends you a story about Bigfoot strolling by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Searching for the Eiffel Tower on Street View will at the very least confirm that the tower doesn’t have a big red cowboy hat at the top (like it does in Paris, Texas). If that part doesn’t check out, the rest of the story might be fishy, too.

 In this simulated example, you can see how you can find the differences between the real Eiffel Tower in Paris, France and the one in Paris, Texas. This is just a demonstration and not the full product experience.

We’re committed to helping people spot misinformation online and supporting the fact-checking ecosystem.

Most recently, we provided $3 million to journalistic efforts fact-checking misinformation about the COVID-19 immunization process, with a concentration on projects that aim to reach audiences underserved by fact-checking. We also launched a GNI University Verification Challenge across Asia to boost verification skills among journalism students. In addition, Google.org helped the nonprofit Full Fact through grant funding and seven full-time pro-bono engineering fellows to boost the number of claims they could detect.

For more tips and best practices, check out the resources put together by the International Fact-Checking Network at factcheckingday.com. And if you’re a journalist, check out the GNI Training Center.



Posted by: Alexios Mantzarlis, News and Information Credibility Lead

Meet the Google for Startups Accelerator Canada Class of 2021




After putting out a call for our second edition of Google for Startups Accelerator to Canada, we are excited to share that we have selected 12 startups from across Canada to participate in the program. The accelerator is designed to bring the best of Google's programs, products, people and technology to startups that leverage machine learning and AI today, or plan to in the future. 


Over the next three months, the 12 startups will receive mentorship and technical project support from Google, deep dives and workshops focused on areas like product design, customer acquisition and leadership development. These 12 startups are using technology to solve an array of challenges, from a platform that streamlines the home buying process, to an AI powered clinical assistant. We're inspired and honoured to work alongside these companies in the coming months to help navigate their most pressing technical and business needs. 



  • AccessNow (Toronto) is a social enterprise developing smart technology that connects people with disabilities, governments and corporations to accurate, up-to-date information about the accessibility of places around the world. If information is not already on the AccessNow app, anyone can contribute, adding to the movement for greater access for all. 

  • AVA (Vancouver) creates indoor gardening technology to help people experience the magic of growing. They created AVA Byte, the world's smartest indoor garden designed for people looking to get growing. AVA's vision is to have AVA-grown plants in every home, aiming to shift society’s preference away from cheap, mass agriculture to more homegrown, nutritious and sustainable options. 

  • Homewise (Toronto) automates the mortgage process, with a five minute application and predictive technology to match clients with the best mortgage options from over 30 banks and lenders. Then Homewise’s tech-powered advisors guide borrowers from approval to move-in and beyond, getting them the best-tailored mortgage, while saving time and money - all for free! 

  • ICwhatUC (Calgary) is an augmented reality and artificial intelligence powered video platform that enables an on-demand connection between experts and customers to instantly resolve issues, triage problems, and prevent downtime; making work safer, saving time, saving costs, and increasing customer satisfaction. It provides remote help for everyday solutions, like maintenance, sales estimates or service training. 

  • Knockri (Toronto) is a behavioural skills assessment tool that improves diversity without impacting work performance or hiring efficiency. Knockri helps diversity focused talent acquisition teams shortlist and find the best fit candidates for an interview. 

  • Neurescence (Toronto) is an early-stage medical device company that combines machine learning with its proprietary optical technology to solve critical medicinal and clinical challenges for overcoming neurological disorders. 

  • Orbiseed (Toronto) transforms architecture, engineering, construction, owner operator (AECOO) workflows using AI to accelerate document processing and unlock high-quality value from building data. This drives efficiency, improves decision-making and reduces business risk. 

  • Phelix AI (Toronto) is a zero-code, omni-channel, and AI powered virtual assistant for healthcare workflows. Phelix uses cutting edge technology to automate around the edges of existing healthcare silos, followed by an API first approach to rebuild the EMR stack for the future. 

  • Summatti (Waterloo) is an AI-powered platform that helps businesses save time and money to empower their customer support team, whether they're on-site or remote. Summatti analyzes every single interaction in real-time across multiple channels such as phone, email, chat, CRM, etc. to provide an end-to-end overview of the customers’ experience. 

  • Together (Toronto) makes software to help HR professionals at enterprises launch, manage and measure mentoring programs at scale for their employees, bringing world-class professional development to all companies. 

  • Virtuo (Calgary) technology creates an industry ecosystem around the needs of homebuyers to help with common pain points experienced from a traditionally fragmented and disconnected journey, turning it into a seamless and stress-free experience. 

  • Visualping (Vancouver) is a robotic process automation start-up that alerts users when something important changes on a webpage of their choice, such as laws and regulations, competitive intelligence and more. 

We can’t wait to start working with these founders and startup teams to help grow and scale their businesses. And we’re excited to continue with our second year of programming and support for Canadian startups. This year we’ve doubled down on our efforts to help startups and founders across Canada, with five accelerators open to Canadian startups in 2021, including the Google for Startups Accelerator: Voice AI, Google for Startups Accelerator: Climate Change, Google for Startups Accelerator for Black Founders, and Google for Startups Accelerator for Women Founders

Celebrating Women’s History Month at Google Canada: Meet Sylvie LaPerrière


Editor's Note: For Women's History Month, we're profiling some of the powerful, dynamic and creative Canadian women at Google. 

Sylvie LaPerrière believes in the power of a blank canvas. She always knew she would pursue a career that didn’t yet exist. Today, she is quite literally a “builder of the internet,” through fibre optic submarine cables — empowering communities around the world with access to the internet. 


When asked what advice she gives to people thinking about their future career paths, she unequivalently says that they need to think big and think about a career that might not even exist... yet. She believes you have the chance to become a craftsperson and the masterpiece is up to you! And for Sylvie, that masterpiece has led her to become a Strategic Negotiator, leading a global team while being based out of our Montréal office. 


How would you describe your job at a dinner party to people who don't work in tech? 
I am a builder of the internet. Specifically of the infrastructure that houses and makes part of the internet. Think of it like building a railroad with tracks that will connect communities, but instead we are building the internet with underwater submarine cables that will connect communities. 


In my specific role, as a Strategic Negotiator, I lead a global team that helps secure the partnerships with telecommunication mobile operators and internet players that will enable Google to build internet capacity all over the world. 


What is your favourite part about your role? 
I love developing new markets and helping bring the internet to people around the world. It’s something that I have been doing for the past 25 years, and still makes me get up enthusiastic each morning. It’s exciting because the work we do hasn’t been done before — there’s a lasting construct that’s empowering millions of people. The impact of our work spans beyond the project, and I’m fortunate to be participating in something that is much bigger than me. 


Is there a project that you are particularly proud of? 
Over the past couple of years I’ve been focused on a project bringing a subsea cable, Equiano from Portugal to South Africa. As you know, Africa is a very vast continent with almost 1.3 billion people, but only 600 million are online. Based on our traffic projections we were able to determine that there is not enough internet infrastructure to meet the needs of their population — which is where my team came in. I’m really proud of the work that we’ve been doing on this project and the number of countries we’ll be able to impact and empower to stay connected. 


Why did you choose to pursue a career in tech? 
I always had an inkling that I would do something that didn’t yet exist. I never wanted to box myself into a specific job or role, and the idea of a blank canvas has always been very exciting to me. When I was in business school at HEC Montréal, I studied information systems, which was something that I was intrigued by — back then, it was the future! After my studies, I had the chance to work for a international telecom company and I immediately knew this was the area I wanted to be in. I thought, wow, submarine cables that connect continents! This is awesome. I also always knew I wanted to do something international, so when I was asked to join Google I jumped at the opportunity. And right when I started working here, it was the continuity of the development of infrastructure with the mission of making information accessible to as many people as possible that drove me. It all clicked — I am able to help people change their world and change the world. 


What advice would you give to women pursuing a career in technology? 
Don’t be intimidated by tech, embrace it! We have an image that tech is not for women, and we need to debunk it, and change the narrative! Tech is the new raw material, the new language, the new code, the new toolset that you need to have. The pandemic is showing us how necessary the internet is to us. Five years ago would you have ordered your groceries from home, would you have thought possible to work from home for an entire year? We are living this revolution and it is up to us to harness the power of it and women, and men, both have their fair place in shaping the future and leading the way. 

A path forward for sustainable news startups



Camille Padilla Dalmau and Mackenzie Clark are doing similar work, 2,244 miles apart.

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, Camille creates stories for the 9 million Puerto Ricans who live around the world through 9 Millones. Mackenzie recently launched the Lawrence Times in Kansas, funded by an online campaign that brought in more than $8,000 over six days.

Camille and Mackenzie are part of a new wave of local news sites launching across the U.S. and Canada. Some 266 local news organizations have started over the last five years, at a rate of 50 per year. That’s explosive growth in the field and it’s happening with no coordinated support, even though — as we know — this is hard work.

Today LION Publishers and the Google News Initiative are announcing the findings of Project Oasis, first-of-its-kind research which provides information about the paths these entrepreneurs take — and points to the way forward to a sustainable future for local news. This project was undertaken in partnership with the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Douglas K Smith (architect of Table Stakes), and with support from Michelle McLellan (creator of Michelle’s List). The results are a database and research report that illustrate the state of the local news industry, as well as a step-by-step guide for aspiring news entrepreneurs on how to get started.

The Project News Oasis database features rich information on 711 publishers across the U.S. and Canada, including breakdowns of their distributional, editorial and financial operations. We’ll use it to help existing publishers, who can add or update their information at any time, as well as to inform the next generation of news entrepreneurs.

Next, the Project Oasis research report puts our research findings in context — it highlights the revenue streams publishers use to fund their newsgathering, the communities they aim to serve and the size of the teams they hire to do the work. It also provides benchmarks designed to help new startup publishers develop their own practical goals for what their operation can look like three years out.

So how might we encourage responsible growth in the local news industry? That brings us to the third resource we’re releasing today: The GNI Startups Playbook. The playbook will demystify the process of launching a digital news startup and, by tackling key activities such as building a product, growing an audience and developing a revenue stream, it will help news entrepreneurs build a business that’s financially viable and has a positive journalistic impact on local communities.

This comprehensive resource, which will soon be available in Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean and Indonesian, includes contributions from GNI, LION and a small army of experts. The playbook itself will provide the basis for much of GNI’s and LION’s joint programming moving forward, including the GNI Startups Lab and Boot Camp, as well as our collaboration with Tiny News Collective, a low-cost platform and set of shared services aimed at helping news entrepreneurs build a news organization from scratch.

The database, the research report and the playbook are intended to be living resources that will be updated regularly. We’re committed to working with the Google News Initiative to fully capture the experiments and learnings of this rapidly evolving field, and over the coming months we’ll collaborate once again to help the GNI conduct a global series of live workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs on the Digital Growth Program site. After you’ve looked at these resources, we'd love your input: What’s valuable? What would you like more information about? We’ll incorporate your feedback into the next editions.

Our goal is to ensure the next Camille and the next Mackenzie will have a smoother, better-lit road ahead of them. We’re confident that as this work continues, and the path is made clearer, we’ll build a sustainable future for local digital news by focusing on what founders and organizations need along the way.


Posted by: Chris Krewson, Executive Director, LION Publishers

A year in review: Training Canadian youth for the future of work

For the last six years, we’ve been working with youth and employers across Canada to help underserved young adults find sustainable careers in technology. All this is done with the goal of building a diverse Canadian technology workforce where people from any cultural ethnicity, gender or socio-economic background can succeed in our digital economy. 


It was just over a year ago that we announced our landmark partnership with Google Canada to upskill 1,700 low-income, diverse young adults for careers in information technology (IT). With Google.org’s investment of $2.5 million, we began to pilot, test and integrate the Google IT Support Professional Certificate and the Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate into our program offerings, providing scholarships, instructional support, and wraparound support for learners. We also updated our existing Junior IT Analyst Program and launched two new alumni programs. 


When we announced this partnership last year, we couldn’t have predicted the impact the COVID-19 pandemic would have on our first year of programming. Starting a new career path is always tough, but a global pandemic added a new level of complexity, and we saw youth unemployment levels skyrocketing. But as automation and technology became more important in helping both the private and public sector to adapt and thrive during the pandemic, Canadian workers also adapted to learn new technical skills to match where the future of work was quickly heading. 


In 2020, our two cohorts enrolled 450 underserved young adults into programs based in the Greater Toronto Area and Calgary, however with pandemic restrictions on gatherings, we quickly pivoted to delivering these programs online. The silver lining of this shift was that virtual learning offered greater accessibility and flexibility for many youth. That, coupled with a strong online peer support community, contributed to higher engagement, increased skills acquisition and program completion outcomes. 



Given the economic turndown triggered by the pandemic, the post-program success outcomes for alumni were difficult to predict. However, we’re very pleased to report that job placement outcomes have been stronger than expected. Currently, 83% of youth who graduated in September 2020 are employed or in a new education program at five months post-program, and for those who recently graduated in December, over 45% are employed or in education at less than two months post-program. 


Read what some of the latest graduates have to say about their experiences: 


Need a better night’s sleep? Meet the new Nest Hub

A little more than two years ago, I was part of the team that created Nest Hub, Google’s first smart display. Since then, we’ve been exploring ways to make these devices even more helpful. We know that people already come to Google for information and tools to help them live healthier, happier lives, and we’ve specifically noticed more and more questions about sleep, exercise and health. So we decided to bring these kinds of solutions to our second-generation Nest Hub, while also improving on the things people already love about it.

The Nest Hub you love, but better
The new Nest Hub’s speaker is based on the same audio technology as Nest Audio and has 50 percent more bass than the original Hub. Fill any room with songs, podcasts or audiobooks from services like YouTube Music, Spotify — or enjoy your favourite TV shows and movies with a subscription from providers like Netflix and Disney+. With Quick Gestures, you can pause or play content at any time by tapping the air in front of your display.


The new Nest Hub also shows all your compatible connected devices in one place. And with a built-in Thread radio, Nest Hub will work with the new connectivity standard being created by the Project Connected Home over IP working group, making it even simpler to control your connected home.

New sleep features for better rest

The Nest Hub has always helped you tackle the day; now, it can help you rest well at night. Many of us don’t get enough sleep, which comes with some real risks to our well-being. A lack of sleep can negatively affect mood, energy, stress, diet, productivity...the list goes on and on.

As a father of two young kids, I’m especially passionate about sleep, and notice that I am much more able to fully show up and connect with my family and the people in my life after a healthy amount of rest. As people have started to recognize the need for better sleep, sleep trackers have continued to become a popular solution. But we wanted to offer an alternative way for people who may not want to wear something to bed to understand their sleep.

Because we knew people felt comfortable with Nest Hub at their bedsides thanks to its camera-free design, we went to work. The result is Sleep Sensing, an opt-in feature that makes it easier to understand and improve your sleep:


Understand your sleep: Sleep Sensing uses Motion Sense (powered by Soli low-energy radar technology) to analyze how the person closest to the display is sleeping, based on their movement and breathing—all without a camera or wearing devices to bed. Sleep Sensing can also detect sleep disturbances like coughing and snoring or the light and temperature changes in the room with Nest Hub’s built-in microphones and ambient light and temperature sensors, so you can better understand what may be impacting your sleep.

Every morning you’ll receive a personalized sleep summary on your display, or you can view your sleep data anytime on the Nest Hub by asking, “Hey Google, how did I sleep?” Sleep Sensing can also be connected to your Google Fit app on Android and iOS devices, so as long as you have your phone, you can easily view your sleep summary alongside your other health and wellness information.

Get help for better sleep: Understanding your sleep is an important first step, but you may still have questions about what else you can do to get a better night’s sleep. Sleep Sensing helps by providing tailored bedtime schedules and personalized suggestions for improvement. Compiled after several nights of analysis, these suggestions point you to notable aspects of your sleep, educate you on why those areas are important and provide actionable suggestions to improve.

Built with your privacy in mind: Sleep Sensing is completely optional with privacy safeguards in place so you’re in control: You choose if you want to enable it and there's a visual indicator on the display to let you know when it’s on. Motion Sense only detects motion, not specific bodies or faces, and your coughing and snoring audio data is only processed on the device--meaning it is not sent to Google servers. You have multiple controls to disable Sleep Sensing features, including a hardware switch that lets you physically disable the microphone. You can review or delete your sleep data at any time, and consistent with our privacy commitments, it isn't used for personalized ads.

Sleep Sensing on the second-gen Nest Hub is available as a preview at no additional cost until next year. We'll also be looking for ways to integrate with Fitbit's sleep tracking features to bring the best of both together in the future.

Even if you choose not to enable Sleep Sensing, you can still fall asleep and wake up easier with Nest Hub. The display dims to make your bedroom more sleep-friendly, and the “Your evening” page helps you wind down at night with relaxing sounds. When it’s time to wake up, Nest Hub’s Sunrise Alarm gradually brightens the display and increases the alarm volume. If you need a few more zzzs, you can use Motion Sense to wave your hand to snooze the alarm.

Thoughtfully and beautifully designed to match any room
The new Nest Hub comes in a variety of colours to complement any room in the house: Chalk, Charcoal, Sand and the new Mist. It features an edgeless glass display that’s easy to clean and makes your Nest Hub an even more beautiful digital photo frame. Nest Hub is designed with recycled materials with its plastic mechanical parts containing 54 percent recycled post-consumer plastic.

The second-generation Nest Hub is $129.99 CAD. It can be preordered online in Canada at the Google Store and other retailers including Best Buy, Costco, Staples and The Source starting today.



Published by: Ashton Udall, Senior Product Manager, Google Nest

Need a better night’s sleep? Meet the new Nest Hub

A little more than two years ago, I was part of the team that created Nest Hub, Google’s first smart display. Since then, we’ve been exploring ways to make these devices even more helpful. We know that people already come to Google for information and tools to help them live healthier, happier lives, and we’ve specifically noticed more and more questions about sleep, exercise and health. So we decided to bring these kinds of solutions to our second-generation Nest Hub, while also improving on the things people already love about it.

The Nest Hub you love, but better
The new Nest Hub’s speaker is based on the same audio technology as Nest Audio and has 50 percent more bass than the original Hub. Fill any room with songs, podcasts or audiobooks from services like YouTube Music, Spotify — or enjoy your favourite TV shows and movies with a subscription from providers like Netflix and Disney+. With Quick Gestures, you can pause or play content at any time by tapping the air in front of your display.


The new Nest Hub also shows all your compatible connected devices in one place. And with a built-in Thread radio, Nest Hub will work with the new connectivity standard being created by the Project Connected Home over IP working group, making it even simpler to control your connected home.

New sleep features for better rest

The Nest Hub has always helped you tackle the day; now, it can help you rest well at night. Many of us don’t get enough sleep, which comes with some real risks to our well-being. A lack of sleep can negatively affect mood, energy, stress, diet, productivity...the list goes on and on.

As a father of two young kids, I’m especially passionate about sleep, and notice that I am much more able to fully show up and connect with my family and the people in my life after a healthy amount of rest. As people have started to recognize the need for better sleep, sleep trackers have continued to become a popular solution. But we wanted to offer an alternative way for people who may not want to wear something to bed to understand their sleep.

Because we knew people felt comfortable with Nest Hub at their bedsides thanks to its camera-free design, we went to work. The result is Sleep Sensing, an opt-in feature that makes it easier to understand and improve your sleep:


Understand your sleep: Sleep Sensing uses Motion Sense (powered by Soli low-energy radar technology) to analyze how the person closest to the display is sleeping, based on their movement and breathing—all without a camera or wearing devices to bed. Sleep Sensing can also detect sleep disturbances like coughing and snoring or the light and temperature changes in the room with Nest Hub’s built-in microphones and ambient light and temperature sensors, so you can better understand what may be impacting your sleep.

Every morning you’ll receive a personalized sleep summary on your display, or you can view your sleep data anytime on the Nest Hub by asking, “Hey Google, how did I sleep?” Sleep Sensing can also be connected to your Google Fit app on Android and iOS devices, so as long as you have your phone, you can easily view your sleep summary alongside your other health and wellness information.

Get help for better sleep: Understanding your sleep is an important first step, but you may still have questions about what else you can do to get a better night’s sleep. Sleep Sensing helps by providing tailored bedtime schedules and personalized suggestions for improvement. Compiled after several nights of analysis, these suggestions point you to notable aspects of your sleep, educate you on why those areas are important and provide actionable suggestions to improve.

Built with your privacy in mind: Sleep Sensing is completely optional with privacy safeguards in place so you’re in control: You choose if you want to enable it and there's a visual indicator on the display to let you know when it’s on. Motion Sense only detects motion, not specific bodies or faces, and your coughing and snoring audio data is only processed on the device--meaning it is not sent to Google servers. You have multiple controls to disable Sleep Sensing features, including a hardware switch that lets you physically disable the microphone. You can review or delete your sleep data at any time, and consistent with our privacy commitments, it isn't used for personalized ads.

Sleep Sensing on the second-gen Nest Hub is available as a preview at no additional cost until next year. We'll also be looking for ways to integrate with Fitbit's sleep tracking features to bring the best of both together in the future.

Even if you choose not to enable Sleep Sensing, you can still fall asleep and wake up easier with Nest Hub. The display dims to make your bedroom more sleep-friendly, and the “Your evening” page helps you wind down at night with relaxing sounds. When it’s time to wake up, Nest Hub’s Sunrise Alarm gradually brightens the display and increases the alarm volume. If you need a few more zzzs, you can use Motion Sense to wave your hand to snooze the alarm.

Thoughtfully and beautifully designed to match any room
The new Nest Hub comes in a variety of colours to complement any room in the house: Chalk, Charcoal, Sand and the new Mist. It features an edgeless glass display that’s easy to clean and makes your Nest Hub an even more beautiful digital photo frame. Nest Hub is designed with recycled materials with its plastic mechanical parts containing 54 percent recycled post-consumer plastic.

The second-generation Nest Hub is $129.99 CAD. It can be preordered online in Canada at the Google Store and other retailers including Best Buy, Costco, Staples and The Source starting today.



Published by: Ashton Udall, Senior Product Manager, Google Nest