Category Archives: Google Canada Blog

News and notes from Google Canada

Brandon Gonez launches new YouTube series to spotlight and export Canadian stories to the world

Editor’s Note: On January 17, media personality Brandon Gonez is launching a new, weekly, made-for-YouTube series “The Brandon Gonez Show”. Watch the preview here, and subscribe here.

We’ve been watching Brandon Gonez’s star rise for some time, enamored with his so-called “Brandon-isms”. So when we got the scoop that he was launching a new, made-for-YouTube show, we had to know everything. Read on for our (socially distant) chat with Brandon.

Congratulations on the upcoming launch of The Brandon Gonez Show! Fans across Canada loved watching you on-air in your previous roles. What can viewers expect from this show?


It’s going to be a one-stop shop to get the news and entertainment that people need. Me and my team created the show because we wanted a platform in Canada where viewers can get information in the most authentic, genuine and honest way possible. We don’t want this show to be scripted. We want it to be a genuine place where we share information and make people laugh in a really natural way. This show will be a genuine place where viewers will feel like they’re talking to their best friend.

Your show is going to be four different segments - tell us about them.

We’re really excited about how we’re going to create stories, and our whole team has a special, unique love for each segment.
Segment 1: News you can use. This segment will be the need-to-know stories of the week. It may also include interesting stories that mainstream media may not have covered. We want to be the source that shares information that you can’t find anywhere else.

Segment 2: Open + Honest. This is what we call our chameleon segment, where we’ll explore hot topics in-depth, things like the issues facing the BIPOC community. We’ll connect and source expert opinions, and dig into how these issues affect Canadians across the country. Or it might be a celebrity interview of someone making waves that week, looking to have an open and honest conversation.

Segment 3: Your Voice. We step out of the studio for this one, into the streets around the GTA. It will be a community expression, where people are driving the story. We’re really excited about this one, and don’t know who we’re going to find. Every single neighbourhood is different and authentic, and we want to tell those stories. We have some strong partnerships at play that will help us travel beyond Ontario to also meet Canadians across the country. With this segment, we really want Canadians to be exposed to different places. We’re the second largest country in land mass, but our population is so spread out. We hope this helps people get a glimpse of what life is like in other parts. We think people are really going to latch on to these stories, it will be the first time people see their community represented in the realest way possible.

Segment 4: Good News. This is the part of the show that will keep you smiling, and make you feel good. In 2020 we saw more than ever the need for good news, as we bore witness to racial injustice, and ongoing information about the global pandemic. There’s a lot of negativity and concern right now. We want to leave people with positivity and authentic good news stories. We welcome anyone to pitch us feel-good stories - by DM or even by email - [email protected] I can’t wait to read through them.

This all sounds awesome - but you must have a favourite. Which segment are you most excited about?

I have a special love for each segment because they're all so unique and will each deliver something special. If I had to choose I’d pick Your Voice. When we launch the show, we want viewers to know that this isn’t about me. This is about our collective voice. The only way this show will succeed is if people are well-reflected in what we bring to the screen.

Where are you hoping for this show to go, and why YouTube?

We want the show to go global - worldwide. There is so much talent, so many stories waiting to be told in this country. Growing up, I remember if you wanted to make it big you had to go south [to the United States]. I always wondered - why? Why do we have to leave our country to be discovered? We want this show to be a platform that exports Canadian talent and culture to other parts of the world.

And that’s where YouTube comes in. We picked YouTube because it was a perfect marriage between our goals and our content. No other platform can provide a worldwide audience like YouTube. You can be in Canada, Zimbabwe, England, South Africa, or Uruguay, and you have access to YouTube. It connects the world in ways we’ve never seen before. That makes me so excited about the potential of this programming. It makes me jump out of bed every morning.

Do you think that global viewers will enjoy these uniquely Canadian stories?

I do - Canada is a country of immigrants, we have people from all walks of life. We have this mosaic of people that are living together, and interacting in this ecosystem. And for many people, it’s a unique thing. We’re going to uncover and tell stories on how things are going - most of the time it’s going well, but not all the time. This is a learning project, where we’ll put a microscope on our stories and our issues.

Ok, so if readers can’t wait till Sunday, are there any teasers you can share in advance of launch?

If the people reading this know me, they know I stay unscripted, and I will remain unscripted.

So we can expect to see some more of your viral moments?

[Laughs] Absolutely! 






Educators and students across Canada gain access to STEM programming from home

In 2020 we saw the rapid and wide-spread adoption of online productivity and learning tools in homes around the world. Parents and educators faced the challenge of teaching remotely at scale - over 90% of the world’s student population faced some sort of school closure this year.

We have a long history of working closely with community partners and organizations across Canada to make STEM programs accessible to all students, focusing heavily on breaking down the socio-economic barriers that some students face in receiving this type of education. But this year was different - educators had to navigate how to teach remotely and students were learning virtually at home. So we brought our STEM programs to where teachers and students needed it the most - online.

Supporting teachers and parents to bring the classroom home 
At the beginning of the pandemic, we created Teach From Home, a central hub of information, tips, training and tools to help teachers make the transition to online. And for parents, we launched [email protected], to provide additional learning content and activities. As schools across the world transitioned online, over 100 million students and educators are now using Google Classroom at no cost - up from 50 million at the beginning of March. To provide additional support for our Canadian teachers, we partnered with EdTechTeam Canada (now Cobblestone Collective) to host live virtual training workshops on how to teach from home with Google Classroom and Meet. We’ve trained over 10,000 teachers this year and our online resources were accessed more than 20,000 times.

Investing in STEM education to prepare today’s young learners for the future of work 
We must give children the educational building blocks they need to become the technology builders of tomorrow. From the arts to science to healthcare to tech, the jobs and solutions of the future will be shaped by technology and by the people that build it.

Once classrooms were better equipped to handle online learning, we connected with various school boards across the country to offer CS First training - A free computer science curriculum that makes coding easy to teach and fun to learn. We facilitated CS First activities for 83,000+ Canadian learners this year with CS First, bringing 197,000+ hours of computer science programming into classrooms.



Getting students excited about STEM education is a goal we share with many organizations across Canada. That’s why we worked with local and national partners to offer funding and resources to support additional STEM outreach, and connect with students with barriers to access. Thank you to Canada Learning Code, Kids Code Jeunesse, LAUNCH Waterloo, House of Friendship, Carizon, SHAD, and so many more organizations, for bringing STEM to more learners across the country.

We also saw new progress this year as the Ontario Ministry of Education introduced a new Math curriculum, which includes coding expectations. To support teachers as they implement this new curriculum, we’ve directly mapped the coding expectations to the CS First program so that teachers with little to no experience in computer science can bring coding to life in their classrooms.

As the world moved increasingly online this year, it’s put a spotlight on technology and the positive impact it can have on our lives. We will continue to invest in the technology builders of tomorrow and bring more STEM & computer science programs into classrooms across Canada. 




Digital tools and skills bring economic recovery in Canada


When 2020 began, like so many others, I saw the opportunity for technology to help businesses grow, positively impact Canadians and address economic challenges. But I could have never imagined how the year would unfold and the profound impact digital technology would have on our daily lives. 


Eight months into the pandemic, I made a purchase from 22 & Lou, where owner Laura Freel makes jams and marmalades out of her home kitchen in Toronto. Laura’s preserves had been flying off local market shelves, but with sudden store closures, she quickly realized that to keep her business alive, she’d have to start selling online. With no previous experience, she signed up for Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE powered by Google program, was paired with a Canadian student to build her website, and in a matter of weeks, her business was back up and running. 
 
Laura’s is just one of the many stories of resilience I’ve heard from business owners across the country. And it’s a story we’re proud to be a part of. Today I’m sharing an update on how our teams worked alongside Canadian businesses and local organizations to support our country’s economic recovery.



Helping Canadian businesses bounce back 


We knew it was critical to get small businesses online quickly. That’s why in May, we invested $1 million to expand the ShopHERE program, and made a pledge to get 50,000 Canadian small businesses online. The program is currently operating in nearly 450 municipalities, and will continue to expand across the country, helping businesses like 22 & Lou start selling online. 


More than 1.5 million Canadians have visited our Small Business Hub, which provides the tools needed to get online, connect with customers and build digital skills. We made it free for Canadian retailers to list their products on the Google Shopping tab. And to help businesses keep up with the demand for e-commerce, we delivered Google Ads training through Skillshop and Google Academy, and worked with partners like the Retail Council of Canada, Export Development Canada, Startup Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada to deliver free virtual training to over 20,000 Canadian entrepreneurs.


Giving back to local communities 


But it’s not just about businesses, we are just as committed to helping the communities in which we live and work. As part of our COVID-19 local response, our Canadian sites donated over $800,000 in Community Grants through our philanthropic arm, Google.org. The organizations that received grants, such as Region Ready, Toronto Public Library Foundation, Kids Code Jeunesse and the Ottawa Food Bank, address critical areas of need, like food insecurity, connectivity, education and PPE for frontline health workers. Through the gift match program Google offers employees annually, Canadian Googlers have raised $1.6 million for organizations in their communities and around the world. 


Digital skills training for the future of work 


We need to better align the skills of the Canadian workforce with the jobs of the future. This year we transformed our free Grow with Google training to virtual formats and have trained more than 80,000 Canadians on digital skills. With school closures, we trained more than 10,000 Canadian teachers in G Suite for Education, to help them adapt to teaching from home. We also funded community organizations that do critical work to boost digital skills. Google.org announced a $2.5 million grant for NPower Canada, to go toward IT training for 1,700 young adults from underrepresented groups. The first cohort graduated in September, and over half of the graduates have already secured employment just three months post-training. Last week, Google.org announced a $250,000 grant to ComIT, to provide free IT training to 450 Indigenous learners across Canada. 


Supporting tech in Canada 


We’ll continue our expansion plans to build new offices in Toronto, Montreal and Waterloo. To strengthen our support for the broader tech ecosystem, we launched two accelerators for Canadian startups. Collectively, the Google for Startups Accelerator Canada and Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders have enrolled 14 Canadian startups. We’ve also renewed our commitment to Canada’s AI ecosystem with an additional $3.5+ million grant to Mila, the world’s largest deep learning research institute based in Québec. 


In a year that has brought about many changes for us all, the pandemic is one thing we all have in common. And collaboration has been our strongest resource. As we all move increasingly online to find products and services, digitization is clearly the next driver of sustained growth for our country. But we can’t do it alone. We’ll continue to work alongside businesses, local organizations and nonprofits into 2021 and beyond. 

Meet the Canadian projects improving diversity in local news

The Google News Initiative (GNI) is our global effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age. In November 2018, we announced the steps we’re taking as part of the Google News Initiative to fund projects that inject new ideas into the news industry.

Today, we’re announcing an important list of projects selected for the second round of the Google News Initiative’s North American Innovation Challenge. The challenges are meant to encourage a spirit of experimenting, innovating and, quite simply, trying new things. It is especially important this year to tackle new and innovative ideas, and the projects we're funding look at diversity, equity and inclusion through many different lenses, all focused around the communities they serve.



We’re proud to support three Canadian projects this year, tackling diversity at the local level. 

  • Ryerson University’s JeRI: The Journalism Representation Index. JeRI is an AI-powered tool that scores the institutional power of sources cited in news stories. “In this time of great change it’s really important as journalists that we ensure the stories we report on reflect a diversity of voices,” says Asmaa Malik, Associate professor at Ryerson University. “With JERI our hope is that we can rebuild trust with readers and offer them transparency into the process.” 
  • Winnipeg Free Press’s Reader Bridge: The Reader Bridge is designed to help diversify, engage, build and sustain our readership, in large part by delivering stories and potential readers from underserved communities. Readers will be able to participate in journalism in a direct way by offering perspectives and expertise. 
  • Concordia’s Institute for Investigative Journalism: The IIJ Data Hub will serve as a knowledge base for students, researchers, journalists and members of the public, providing access to the documents, data, maps, responses to access-to-information requests and other materials acquired over the course of our award-winning national investigations and connecting to innovation hubs nationwide.

The Innovation Challenge received 215 applications from the US and Canada, and will fund 33 projects totaling $5.9 million.



You can read the full list of the successful recipients on our website. We extend our sincerest thanks to everyone who took the time to apply to this challenge.





Toronto researchers build machine learning tool with Google Cloud to track COVID-19 genomic data

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit early in 2020, Vector Institute in Toronto had to close its labs and send its students and faculty to work at home. Dr. Bo Wang, Lead Artificial Intelligence Scientist at the University Health Network and Faculty Member at Vector, redirected his team to prioritize urgent COVID-19 research. Ph.D. student Hassaan Maan, who works in Dr. Wang's lab on machine learning for healthcare, wanted to help in the global efforts to combat the pandemic's impact, too. He had an idea: a web-based visualization tool to process public COVID-19 viral genome data.

With Dr. Samira Mubareka of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center and Dr. Andrew McArthur, associate professor in the department of biochemistry and biomedical sciences and director of the biomedical discovery & commercialization program at McMaster University, Maan developed the COVID-19 Genotyping Tool (CGT ). The application provides insights into transmission pathways, outbreak epicenters, and key viral mutations. It allows users to upload viral genome data from patients anywhere in the world and analyze it in real-time. “In doing so,” says Wang, “they can determine the context of local events with respect to the global picture, and help shape local health policy and alert the community to any key changes in viral evolution.”

Intuitive deployment within a week 
Maan started developing the app in the R-Shiny framework because he was already familiar with it. Still, he needed a place to deploy all the data, which would have to scale as the number of users and uploads grew — and genome sequences require massive data processing. His solution: Compute Engine on Google Cloud. “Google Cloud offers elastic deployment and is optimized for containers in Docker,” he says. “I had never developed a tool like this, but Google Cloud had intuitive guides and docs. I deployed the app within a week. ” Now the team is working on implementing larger batch uploads.

Maan sees two main benefits for researchers using CGT: “First, it helps track the evolution of the virus' mutations. Most mutations may be harmless or synonymous, but some variations in the genome could change how the disease is treated and transmitted. That kind of data surveillance is very important for predicting new outbreaks. Second, it's also important to track the virus' transmission backwards. By tracing a cluster of cases's origins, we know more about how it spreads. This tool lets us ask new questions in new ways. ”

Making COVID-19 data accessible through machine learning 
The Vector team made CGT publicly available on a website in June 2020, and the tool has averaged about 10,000 new genomes uploaded every week since. “With the total number of publicly posted SARS-CoV-2 genomes rapidly approaching 100,000, CGT is proving to be an invaluable resource for rapidly visualizing and tracking viral genomes worldwide,” says Dr. Terrance Snutch, professor at the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia and chair of the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network. “As the pandemic progresses into autumn and schools begin to reopen, the tool can be a critical component of genotyping efforts, carried out in smaller communities dealing with localized outbreaks

For Maan, the project has exciting implications for responding to the global pandemic: “The app allows researchers to sift through genetic information and find potential patterns of transmission on a broad scale. For example, getting travel histories from every COVID-19 patient has been uneven. CGT can help guide public health policy and inform travel restrictions. When genomic sequencing of the virus picks up, it will be even more useful. ”

Both Maan and McArthur received Google Cloud research credits through Dr. Wang's lab for this COVID-19 related project. If you're interested in accessing complementary credits to drive your own research, Google is funding projects all the way from modeling the COVID-19 outbreak to predicting sepsis and discovering new planets. Click here to learn more. 

Posted by the Google Cloud Team

Google Canada’s #YearInSearch: 2020



2020 was the year we asked ‘why?’.

In a year unlike any other, and in the midst of a global pandemic, Canadians along with others around the world grappled to understand what was happening around them. We asked questions like ‘why is it called COVID-19?’ and ‘why was George Floyd stopped?’. We searched for answers, ways to take action, and ways to help each other.

Top Trending Searches
  1. US election
  2. Coronavirus
  3. Kobe Bryant
  4. Zoom
  5. Raptors
  6. CERB
  7. Kim Jong Un
  8. Naya Rivera
  9. Joe Biden
  10. Trump vs. Biden

And while Coronavirus brought a lot of uncertainty to Canadians and our economy, 2020 also brought us together as we mourned the victims of the Nova Scotia shooting, and inspired change as Canadians protested in support of Black Lives Matter.

Top Trending Canadian News:
  1. Coronavirus
  2. CERB
  3. Air Canada stock
  4. Nova Scotia shooting
  5. Blackout Tuesday
  6. Black Lives Matter
  7. Trudeau press conference today
  8. CERB extension
  9. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau
  10. Safia Nolin

From the heartbreak of losing NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant, to Canadian icon and beloved television host, Alex Trebek, it was a year of difficult goodbyes.

Losses:
  1. Kobe Bryant
  2. Naya Rivera
  3. Alex Trebek
  4. George Floyd
  5. Chadwick Boseman
  6. Sean Connery
  7. Eddie Van Halen
  8. Kelly Preston
  9. Sushant Singh Rajput
  10. Kenny Rogers

With social distancing and lockdowns in place, Canadians searched for ways to stay entertained at home (binge-watching reached an all time high both in Canada and worldwide this year!). Many of us turned to movies and TV shows to feel connected through the characters we invited into our homes.

This year’s top trending TV shows feature both a king and a queen. More of the top trending TV shows below.

Top Trending TV Shows: 
  1. Tiger King
  2. The Queen's Gambit
  3. Ozark
  4. Cobra Kai
  5. Money Heist
  6. The Umbrella Academy
  7. Outer Banks
  8. Emily in Paris
  9. The Witcher
  10. Love Is Blind

An award-winning film tops the list of trending movies, while searches for a 2018 superhero film spikes again, after the movie’s iconic star passed away. Here are 2020’s top trending movies in Canada: 
 
Top Trending Movies:
  1. Parasite
  2. Contagion
  3. Black Panther
  4. Borat 2
  5. Little Women
  6. Uncut Gems
  7. Knives Out
  8. Papillon
  9. Mulan
  10. The Gentlemen

Despite everything happening around us, we were resilient and adapted making the most of our extended time at home - from learning to bake bread, to trying new home workouts.

Top Trending Recipes:
  1. Easy cookie recipes
  2. Buttermilk recipes
  3. Butternut squash recipes
  4. Sourdough discard recipes
  5. Scalloped potatoes recipes
  6. Bread recipes
  7. Coleslaw recipes
  8. Crock Pot recipes
  9. Breakfast recipes
  10. Air fryer recipes

Top Trending Workouts:
  1. Resistance band workout
  2. Chloe Ting workout
  3. Insanity workout
  4. Home workout
  5. Murph workout
  6. Alexis Ren ab workout
  7. Bodyweight workout
  8. Booty workout
  9. Full body workout
  10. Upper body workout

You can explore more of the 2020 Canadian trending lists at g.co/2020trends/CA. Here’s to the close of what can only be described as a year that none of us could have predicted.



The latest features for Pixel owners are here



One of the best parts of Pixel is regular feature drops that make the phone better and better (and better). With the December update, even more Pixel owners will get to experience our most recent updates, along with a few new surprises.

The latest and greatest, now on more Pixels

Many of the new features launched with the Pixel 5 are now rolling out to Pixel 3 and newer devices. That includes Extreme Battery Saver. When this is turned on, it lets your Pixel automatically limit some apps and only run the essentials so your battery lasts as long as possible.*

And now friends and families can share in the joy of watching the same video, cheer on live sports together and plan activities—even when they’re far apart. While Duo screen sharing in one-to-one calls is already available, screen sharing is also becoming available in group calls, too, so long as you’re using Wi-Fi or a 5G connection. 




Finally, we showed off a redesigned, more helpful editor in Google Photos with a new tab that gives you suggestions powered by machine learning that are tailored to the picture you’re editing. Now on Pixel, we’re rolling out new suggestions, including Dynamic, which enhances brightness, contrast and colour, and a set of sky suggestions, which help you create stunning sunset and sunrise images in just one tap.

Adapting to you, for you

Google devices are most helpful when they seamlessly assist you throughout the day—wherever you are. We call this ambient computing, and it drives our approach to how Pixel should adapt to your needs in real time.

For example, Adaptive Sound improves the sound quality of your phone speaker based on your surroundings. It uses the microphone to assess the acoustics near you, then adjusts the sound equalizer settings in certain apps. Bringing your Pixel from the bedroom to the bathroom while getting ready in the morning? Your audio will sound great wherever you are.

Speaking of where you’re going, the GPS on Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G) is now more accurate when you’re on foot than previous generations. This means your rideshare service can find you more easily, and there’s no more guessing which side of the street you need to be on when you’re walking somewhere. (Requires an internet connection and Android 8.0 or later.)

Your Pixel can also now detect if you’re viewing a website or app in a different language and translate it using Google Lens. Just take a screenshot or swipe into App Overview, and tap the Lens chip to see the translation. For available Google Lens languages go to g.co/help/lens.

And for a little more help between charges, there are new context-aware battery features. Additional improvements to Adaptive Battery for Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G) can automatically save even more power if a user is likely to miss their next charge, keeping the device powered even longer. Adaptive Charging helps preserve battery health over time by dynamically controlling how quickly a Pixel device charges. Just plug in your phone in the evening, set an alarm and the Adaptive Charging will work its magic.

And for Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G) owners, our new Adaptive Connectivity feature helps you get the most out of your battery by automatically switching from 5G to 4G based on the app you’re using. It’ll choose 4G for things like browsing the web or sending texts, and switch to 5G when you’re watching movies or downloading large files. (Not available on all carriers or for all apps or features.)

Make your Pixel even more yours

Your phone should feel uniquely yours. Now you can personalize your home screen with new icons, grid views and app shapes, or even choose custom wallpapers of famous artworks provided by cultural institutions from around the world on Google Arts & Culture (wallpapers coming soon directly into the wallpaper categories in settings).

Plus, a special treat for Star Wars fans: Google, Disney and Lucasfilm worked together to launch “The Mandalorian” AR Experience, an augmented reality app available on Google Play for 5G Google Pixel devices and other select 5G Android phones. Now all Pixel 3 and newer devices can customize the home screen with original new Mandalorian wallpapers.




And something music lovers can appreciate: Your Pixel can already recognize songs that are playing around you if you enable Now Playing; all the tracks you hear are stored in your Now Playing History. Now you can select all the songs you heard while you were driving or watching TV and export them to a playlist in YouTube Music.





For those who use other Android devices, there's plenty of new things to get excited about: Check out our blog post on everything new for Android phones.



* Battery life depends upon many factors, and usage of certain features will decrease battery life. Actual battery life may be lower. 



Posted by Harrison Lingren, Technical Program Manager

Made in Canada: Meet the Waterloo engineering team that’s transforming healthcare service

In a year like no other, our Google Cloud Healthcare and Life Sciences team has worked tirelessly with local and global partners to help them organize their healthcare information and make it secure, accessible, and useful in order to improve global healthcare service. 
We sat down with Ilia Tulchinsky, engineering lead for Google Cloud Healthcare and Life Sciences, to tell us a bit more about the work his team has been doing this year.

                                                     

Let’s start with you - tell us a little about your role at Google and what your team works on

I’ve been at Google for a pretty long time - I started 13 years ago in the Waterloo office, and at that time, the Google presence in Canada was small. Over the years, we built a strong and diverse set of teams, based on the amazing talent in the Waterloo and Toronto area. To this day, these teams work on many key and impactful parts of the global Google technology stack, tackling hard problems in scaled distributed systems, AI, hardware and other areas. With a background in healthcare, I saw an opportunity a few years ago to combine Google’s strength in scaled Cloud platform with AI and analytics to bring meaningful technological improvements to healthcare and life sciences. This started as a passion project supported by what we call a “20% project”- a Google initiative that allows employees to explore speculative and innovative project ideas. This seed of an idea has now turned into a strong team that covers large product development like Cloud APIs, and collaboration with Canadian companies like DNAStack and global industry leaders like Sanofi and The Mayo Clinic.

Our team’s mission is to create a platform that helps healthcare institutions organize their information, and make it accessible, secure, and useful in order to improve the health and healthcare of people and communities globally. That’s pretty broad, but it essentially means to teach cloud computing to speak the language of healthcare. We do this by supporting industry-standard formats, protocols, and open APIs for data interchange, as well as compliance regimes implementations. We’re also developing healthcare-optimized AI capabilities for text, speech, and image processing so that customers can digitally transform and optimize their workflows.

How has the pandemic impacted some of the work your team is doing?

This pandemic has shown us the strong need for actionable data in order to plan healthcare responses and public health approaches. Our team has accelerated work on a few different areas to further support our partners and the industry this year:
  • We’ve helped to onboard many research groups onto Google Cloud in order to run disease spread modelling and viral genomics sequencing workloads, leveraging the Cloud Life Sciences API.
  • With the increased demand in telehealth, we’re working with partners like Amwell to help bring intelligent healthcare delivery to patients’ homes.
  • We’ve also released several offerings to help our customers manage their data and create models that support public health response and policy, including the Cloud Healthcare API, and the recently launched Healthcare Natural Language API.

Tell us about the Healthcare Natural Language API - how is that helpful for healthcare systems?

The Healthcare Natural Language API is essentially an auto-summarizer of medical insights, that helps our customers securely extract structured data and understanding from medical documents. With this tool, hospitals or clinics can better coordinate valuable medical insights that are captured in unstructured text. This can include information like symptoms, conditions, vaccinations or medications that may be overlooked as patients move through their healthcare journeys. With this summarization, we could see measurable outcomes like lowering the likelihood of redundant bloodwork or other tests, reducing operational spending, and improving the patient-doctor experience. It’s also worth noting that most of this work, available to customers all over the world, has been built out of our Waterloo office.

What has been the biggest opportunity for the Google Cloud Healthcare team this year?

This was a year of radical change, but it also created a unique opportunity to ask our customers and partners how technology could be best used to help them improve their own internal processes. For example, we’ve seen increased demand in telehealth and are very excited about our partnership with Amwell to help bring intelligent healthcare delivery to patient homes.
The pandemic also highlighted the importance of timely access to actionable data for planning healthcare response and public health interventions. We’ve worked with multiple major U.S. healthcare providers such as HCA to develop National Response Portal providing real time insights into the COVID-19 spread.
In Canada, a number of research groups and partners like DNAStack have used our Cloud services for running spread modeling and viral genomics sequencing workloads.

You mentioned a lot of this work is happening in Canada. Does this work have a global impact for healthcare?

A lot of this work is being built in Canada, but it’s being used by organizations all over the world. In Brazil, startup Portal Telemedicina uses Google’s machine learning built right here to bring quick and accurate remote diagnosis to life. The Mayo Clinic has leveraged our Healthcare API to enable the storage and interoperability of its clinical data. Examples like this show how our AI is accessible and scalable to companies big and small.



Made in Canada: Meet the Waterloo engineering team that’s transforming healthcare service

In a year like no other, our Google Cloud Healthcare and Life Sciences team has worked tirelessly with local and global partners to help them organize their healthcare information and make it secure, accessible, and useful in order to improve global healthcare service. 
We sat down with Ilia Tulchinsky, engineering lead for Google Cloud Healthcare and Life Sciences, to tell us a bit more about the work his team has been doing this year.

                                                     

Let’s start with you - tell us a little about your role at Google and what your team works on

I’ve been at Google for a pretty long time - I started 13 years ago in the Waterloo office, and at that time, the Google presence in Canada was small. Over the years, we built a strong and diverse set of teams, based on the amazing talent in the Waterloo and Toronto area. To this day, these teams work on many key and impactful parts of the global Google technology stack, tackling hard problems in scaled distributed systems, AI, hardware and other areas. With a background in healthcare, I saw an opportunity a few years ago to combine Google’s strength in scaled Cloud platform with AI and analytics to bring meaningful technological improvements to healthcare and life sciences. This started as a passion project supported by what we call a “20% project”- a Google initiative that allows employees to explore speculative and innovative project ideas. This seed of an idea has now turned into a strong team that covers large product development like Cloud APIs, and collaboration with Canadian companies like DNAStack and global industry leaders like Sanofi and The Mayo Clinic.

Our team’s mission is to create a platform that helps healthcare institutions organize their information, and make it accessible, secure, and useful in order to improve the health and healthcare of people and communities globally. That’s pretty broad, but it essentially means to teach cloud computing to speak the language of healthcare. We do this by supporting industry-standard formats, protocols, and open APIs for data interchange, as well as compliance regimes implementations. We’re also developing healthcare-optimized AI capabilities for text, speech, and image processing so that customers can digitally transform and optimize their workflows.

How has the pandemic impacted some of the work your team is doing?

This pandemic has shown us the strong need for actionable data in order to plan healthcare responses and public health approaches. Our team has accelerated work on a few different areas to further support our partners and the industry this year:
  • We’ve helped to onboard many research groups onto Google Cloud in order to run disease spread modelling and viral genomics sequencing workloads, leveraging the Cloud Life Sciences API.
  • With the increased demand in telehealth, we’re working with partners like Amwell to help bring intelligent healthcare delivery to patients’ homes.
  • We’ve also released several offerings to help our customers manage their data and create models that support public health response and policy, including the Cloud Healthcare API, and the recently launched Healthcare Natural Language API.

Tell us about the Healthcare Natural Language API - how is that helpful for healthcare systems?

The Healthcare Natural Language API is essentially an auto-summarizer of medical insights, that helps our customers securely extract structured data and understanding from medical documents. With this tool, hospitals or clinics can better coordinate valuable medical insights that are captured in unstructured text. This can include information like symptoms, conditions, vaccinations or medications that may be overlooked as patients move through their healthcare journeys. With this summarization, we could see measurable outcomes like lowering the likelihood of redundant bloodwork or other tests, reducing operational spending, and improving the patient-doctor experience. It’s also worth noting that most of this work, available to customers all over the world, has been built out of our Waterloo office.

What has been the biggest opportunity for the Google Cloud Healthcare team this year?

This was a year of radical change, but it also created a unique opportunity to ask our customers and partners how technology could be best used to help them improve their own internal processes. For example, we’ve seen increased demand in telehealth and are very excited about our partnership with Amwell to help bring intelligent healthcare delivery to patient homes.
The pandemic also highlighted the importance of timely access to actionable data for planning healthcare response and public health interventions. We’ve worked with multiple major U.S. healthcare providers such as HCA to develop National Response Portal providing real time insights into the COVID-19 spread.
In Canada, a number of research groups and partners like DNAStack have used our Cloud services for running spread modeling and viral genomics sequencing workloads.

You mentioned a lot of this work is happening in Canada. Does this work have a global impact for healthcare?

A lot of this work is being built in Canada, but it’s being used by organizations all over the world. In Brazil, startup Portal Telemedicina uses Google’s machine learning built right here to bring quick and accurate remote diagnosis to life. The Mayo Clinic has leveraged our Healthcare API to enable the storage and interoperability of its clinical data. Examples like this show how our AI is accessible and scalable to companies big and small.



Shining a spotlight on the brilliant talent in Canada with Artist on the Rise


Canada was once looked at as one of music's best kept secrets. But today it's no secret at all that Canadian artists have completely reshaped our global soundtrack.

So many of these transcendent Canadian artists have found their audiences on YouTube. From Justin Bieber, Roxanne Bruneau and Shawn Mendes, to Alessia Cara and The Weeknd, the list goes on. We're so proud to have connected these artists with the 2 billion monthly users we have on YouTube.

And we're not done shining a spotlight on the brilliant talent in Canada. In fact, we're just getting started.

Today, we're launching Artist on the Rise in Canada. This new feature will live on our explore tab and showcase the promising future of a new emerging artist every week to our Canadian users. It's also a companion feature to Creator on the Rise which launched in Canada in 2017.



Our first featured artist is Faouzia, a compelling vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Carman, Manitoba. She has a unique sound that's been described as cinematic pop with alternative and rhythmic elements. She continues to break through week after week, and is the perfect example of Canadian talent that's taking the world by storm.



“In 2013, I started uploading my music to YouTube. Seven years and over a million subscribers later, I've seen how YouTube has been an important part of my growth journey as an artist, and connecting me with fans across the globe,” says Faouzia. "I'm honoured to be YouTube's first Artist on the Rise in Canada, and look forward to continuing to share my sound and new music on the platform."


Canada has always been a powerhouse of talent - from Alanis Morissette, Nickelback and Sum41 to Drake, Tate McRae and Faouzia. It's critical for this talent to continue to be recognized and celebrated. We're thirsty to discover the next generation of Canadian stars through Artist on the Rise on YouTube.

With respect,
Lyor