Tag Archives: Africa

How fact checkers and Google.org are fighting misinformation.


Misinformation can have dramatic consequences on people’s lives — from finding reliable information on everything from elections to vaccinations — and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem as accurate information can save lives. To help fight the rise in minsformation, Full Fact, a nonprofit that provides tools and resources to fact checkers, turned to Google.org for help. Today, ahead of International Fact Checking Day, we’re sharing the impact of this work.


Every day, millions of claims, like where to vote and COVID-19 vaccination rates, are made across a multitude of platforms and media. It was becoming increasingly difficult for fact checkers to identify the most important claims to investigate. Last year, Google.org provided Full Fact with $2 million and seven Googlers from the Google.org Fellowship, a pro-bono program that matches teams of Googlers with nonprofits for up to six months to work full-time on technical projects.


Pull quote: “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus and is just as dangerous.” Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO)


The Fellows helped Full Fact build AI tools to help fact checkers detect claims made by key politicians, then group them by topic and match them with similar claims from across press, social networks and even radio using speech to text technology. Over the past year, Full Fact boosted the amount of claims they could process by 1000x, detecting and clustering over 100,000 claims per day — that’s more than 36.5 million total claims per year!

The technology in action


 

The AI-powered tools empower fact checkers to be more efficient, so that they can spend more time actually checking and debunking facts rather than identifying which facts to check. Using a machine learning BERT-based model, the technology now works across four languages (English, French, Portuguese and Spanish). Full Fact’s technology is now in use throughout South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya with their partner Africa Check as well as in Argentina with Chequeado. In total in 2020, Full Fact’s fact checks appeared 237 million times across the internet.



If you’re interested in learning more about how you can use Google to fact check and spot misinformation, check out some of our tips and tricks. Right now more than ever we need to empower citizens to find reliable authoritative information, and we're excited about the impact that Full Fact and its partners have had in making the internet a safer place for everyone.


Posted by Sebastien Floodpage, Program Manager at Google.org


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Redefining what a map can be with new information and AI

Sixteen years ago, many of us held a printout of directions in one hand and the steering wheel in the other to get around— without information about the traffic along your route or details about when your favorite restaurant was open. Since then, we’ve been pushing the boundaries of what a map can do, propelled by the latest machine learning. This year, we’re on track to bring over 100 AI-powered improvements to Google Maps so you can get the most accurate, up-to-date information about the world, exactly when you need it. Here's a snapshot of how we're using AI to make Maps work better for you with a number of updates coming this year.



Navigate indoors with Live View
We all know that awkward moment when you're walking in the opposite direction of where you want to go — Live View uses AR cues to avoid just that. Live View is powered by a technology called global localization, which uses AI to scan tens of billions of Street View images to understand your orientation. Thanks to new advancements that help us understand the precise altitude and placement of objects inside a building, we’re now able to bring Live View to some of the trickiest-to-navigate places indoors: airports, transit stations and malls.

If you’re catching a plane or train, Live View can help you find the nearest elevator and escalators, your gate, platform, baggage claim, check-in counters, ticket office, restrooms, ATMs and more. Arrows and accompanying directions will point you the right way. And if you need to pick something up from the mall, use Live View to see what floor a store is on and how to get there so you can get in and out in a snap. Indoor Live View is live now on Android and iOS in a number of malls in Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle. It starts rolling out in the coming months in select airports, malls, and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich, with more cities on the way.

Find your way inside airports, train stations, and malls with Indoor Live View




Plan ahead with more information about weather and air quality

With the new weather layer, you can quickly see current and forecasted temperature and weather conditions in an area — so you’ll never get caught in the rain without an umbrella. And the new air quality layer shows you how healthy (or unhealthy) the air is — information that’s especially helpful if you have allergies or are in a smoggy or fire-prone area. Data from partners like The Weather Company, AirNow.gov and the Central Pollution Board power these layers that start rolling out on Android and iOS in the coming months. The weather layer will be available globally and the air quality layer will launch in Australia, India, and the U.S., with more countries to come.
See helpful air quality and weather information with new layers in Google Maps




Find more eco-friendly options to get around
With insights from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab, we’re building a new routing model that optimizes for lower fuel consumption based on factors like road incline and traffic congestion. This is all part of the commitment we made last September to help one billion people who use our products take action to reduce their environmental footprint. Soon, Google Maps will default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint when it has approximately the same ETA as the fastest route. In cases where the eco-friendly route could significantly increase your ETA, we’ll let you compare the relative CO2 impact between routes so you can choose. Always want the fastest route? That’s OK too — simply adjust your preferences in Settings. Eco-friendly routes launch in the U.S. on Android and iOS later this year, with a global expansion on the way.
More eco-friendly routes let you choose the route with the lowest carbon footprint




From Amsterdam to Jakarta, cities around the world have established low emission zones — areas that restrict polluting vehicles like certain diesel cars or cars with specific emissions stickers — to help keep the air clean. To support these efforts, we’re working on alerts to help drivers better understand when they’ll be navigating through one of these zones. You can quickly know if your vehicle is allowed in the area, choose an alternative mode of transportation, or take another route. Low emission zone alerts launch this June in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and the UK on Android and iOS, with more countries coming soon.
Quickly know if your vehicle is allowed in the area, choose an alternative mode of transportation, or take another route with low emission zone alerts



But we know that getting around sustainably goes beyond driving. So we’re making it easier to choose more sustainable options when you’re on the go. Soon you’ll get a comprehensive view of all routes and transportation modes available to your destination — you can compare how long it’ll take to get there by car, transit or bike without toggling between tabs. Using advanced machine learning models, Maps will automatically prioritize your preferred modes — and even boost modes that are popular in your city. For example, if you bike a lot, we’ll automatically show you more biking routes. And if you live in a city like New York, London, Tokyo, or Buenos Aires where taking the subway is popular, we’ll rank that mode higher. This rolls out globally in the coming months on Android and iOS.




Save time with curbside grocery pickup on Maps

Delivery and curbside pickup have grown in popularity during the pandemic — they’re convenient and minimize contact. To make this process easier, we’re bringing helpful shopping information to stores’ Business Profiles on Maps and Search, like delivery providers, pickup and delivery windows, fees, and order minimums. We’re rolling this out on mobile Search starting with Instacart and Albertsons Cos. stores in the U.S., with plans to expand to Maps and other partners.




This summer, we’re also teaming up with U.S. supermarket Fred Meyer, a division of The Kroger Co., on a pilot in select stores in Portland, Oregon to make grocery pickup easier. After you place an order for pickup on the store’s app, you can add it to Maps. We’ll send you a notification when it’s time to leave, and let you share your arrival time with the store. Your ETA is continuously updated, based on location and traffic. This helps the store prioritize your order so it’s ready as soon as you get there. Check in on the Google Maps app, and they’ll bring your order right out for a seamless, fast, no-contact pickup.

All of these updates are possible thanks to AI advancements that have transformed Google Maps into a map that can reflect the millions of changes made around the world every day — in the biggest cities andthe smallest towns. Whether you’re getting around, exploring an area, or knocking out errands, let Google Maps help you find your way.


Posted by Dane Glasgow, VP of Product, Google Maps 


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Redéfinir la cartographie grâce à de nouvelles informations et à l’intelligence artificielle
Publié par Dane Glasgow, VP of Product, Google Maps

Il y a juste seize ans, la conception du guidage pour bon nombre d’entre nous se réduisait à conduire avec une main sur le volant, et un itinéraire imprimé dans l’autre. Quant à obtenir des informations de circulation en temps réel ou les horaires d’ouverture d’un restaurant sur notre chemin, n’en parlons même pas. Depuis, nous avons révolutionné le potentiel d’une simple carte routière, notamment grâce au machine learning. Cette année, ce sont plus de 100 améliorations basées sur l’intelligence artificielle que nous allons intégrer dans Google Maps, pour vous permettre d’accéder à des informations exactes et à jour, dès que vous en avez besoin. Pour vous donner une idée de la façon dont nous exploitons l’IA, voici un aperçu de certaines nouveautés Google Maps qui seront introduites cette année.


Avec Live View, laissez-vous guider à l’intérieur d’un bâtiment
Qui ne s’est jamais perdu à l’intérieur d’un bâtiment ? C’est précisément pour éviter ce genre d’embarras que Live View utilise la réalité augmentée. Live View repose sur une technologie que nous appelons localisation globale, qui a recours à l’IA pour analyser des milliards d’images Street View et ainsi comprendre votre orientation. Grâce à de nouvelles avancées qui nous aident à calculer l’altitude exacte et le placement des objets à l’intérieur d’un bâtiment, nous pouvons désormais proposer Live View dans les endroits où l’on se perd le plus souvent : les stations de transports en commun, les centres commerciaux et les aéroports.

Vous avez un avion ou un train à prendre ? Live View vous aide à localiser l’ascenseur ou l’escalier roulant le plus proche, ainsi que votre porte d’embarquement, votre quai, la zone de récupération des bagages, les comptoirs d’enregistrement, les guichets, les salles d’attente, les distributeurs de billets, etc. Il vous suffit de suivre les flèches et les indications de guidage. Vous avez un achat à faire dans un centre commercial ? Utilisez Live View pour localiser l’étage où se trouve la boutique et pour vous guider à bon port, vous faisant gagner ainsi un temps précieux. Indoor Live View est déjà disponible sous Android et iOS dans certains centres commerciaux aux États-Unis (Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose et Seattle). Dans les prochains mois, elle s’étendra à certains aéroports, centres commerciaux et stations de transports à Tokyo et Zurich. D’autres villes suivront.


Prévoyez vos sorties en tenant compte de la météo et de la qualité de l’air
Avec le nouveau calque Météo, vous pouvez consulter rapidement la météo et la température actuelles d’une zone, ainsi que les prévisions. En cas de risques de pluie, plus question d’oublier votre parapluie. Et grâce au nouveau calque Qualité de l’air, vous saurez désormais si l’air que vous respirez est sain (ou pas), ce qui vous sera particulièrement utile si vous souffrez d’allergies ou que vous vous trouvez dans une zone sensible à la pollution atmosphérique ou aux incendies. Ces calques sont alimentés par les données que nous transmettent nos partenaires tels que The Weather Company, AirNow.gov et le Central Pollution Control Board. Ils seront disponibles sous Android et iOS dans les prochains mois. Le calque Météo sera déployé dans le monde entier. Le calque Qualité de l’air, quant à lui, sera dans un premier temps introduit en Australie, aux États-Unis et en Inde, avant d’être étendu à d’autres pays.


Déplacez-vous de façon plus écologique
Grâce aux données que nous fournit le laboratoire américain National Renewable Energy Lab, nous développons actuellement un nouveau modèle d’itinéraire qui permet d’optimiser la consommation de carburant en fonction de facteurs tels que le degré de pente d’une route ou les ralentissements dus aux embouteillages. Cette innovation s’inscrit dans le cadre des engagements que nous avons pris en septembre dernier pour permettre à un milliard de personnes qui utilisent nos produits, d’agir de manière concrète pour réduire leur empreinte carbone. Prochainement, Google Maps proposera donc par défaut l’itinéraire le moins émetteur de CO2 lorsque cet itinéraire donne sensiblement la même heure d’arrivée que l’itinéraire le plus rapide. Si l’itinéraire plus écologique risque d’augmenter le temps de trajet de façon notable, vous aurez la possibilité de comparer l’impact carbone relatif des deux itinéraires avant de faire votre choix. Et si vous souhaitez privilégier l’itinéraire le plus rapide en toutes circonstances, pas de problème : il vous suffit de définir vos préférences dans les paramètres. Les itinéraires plus écologiques commenceront à être proposés aux États-Unis dans le courant de l’année, avec à terme une couverture mondiale.

D’Amsterdam à Jakarta, de nombreuses villes dans le monde ont établi des zones à faibles émissions, qui restreignent l’accès à certains véhicules polluants (voitures fonctionnant au diesel, véhicules avec certaines couleurs de vignette Crit'Air...) pour maintenir la qualité de l’air. Pour soutenir ces initiatives, nous avons développé de nouvelles alertes qui vont permettre aux conducteurs de mieux comprendre le fonctionnement de ces zones régulées. Ils sauront ainsi rapidement si leur véhicule est autorisé dans une zone spécifique, et, en cas de besoin, pourront se replier sur un autre mode de transport ou un autre itinéraire. Les alertes Zones à faibles émissions seront disponibles dès le mois de juin, sous Android et iOS, en France, en Allemagne, aux Pays-Bas et au Royaume-Uni. D’autres pays suivront par la suite.

Toutefois, nous sommes bien conscients que les modes de déplacement ne se limitent pas à la conduite en voiture. C’est pourquoi nous lançons une nouvelle interface de guidage qui permet de choisir facilement un mode de transport plus écologique lorsque vous vous déplacez. Bientôt, vous bénéficierez d’une vue complète sur tous les itinéraires et modes de transport possibles pour vous rendre à destination. Vous pourrez comparer les durées de trajet en voiture, en transports en commun et à vélo sans avoir à jongler entre différents onglets. Grâce à ses modèles de machine learning avancés, Maps vous présentera en priorité vos modes de transport préférés, et pourra même mettre en avant les modes de transport les plus plébiscités dans votre ville. Par exemple, si vous êtes un cycliste convaincu, nous vous présenterons davantage d’itinéraires à vélo. Si vous vivez dans une ville comme Paris, New York, Londres, ou Buenos Aires, où les gens privilégient souvent le métro, nous donnerons plus de visibilité à ce mode de transport pour vous permettre d’accéder rapidement à l’itinéraire. Ce nouveau mode de fonctionnement sera déployé partout dans le monde dans les prochains mois, sous Android et iOS.

Toutes ces nouveautés n’auraient pas pu voir le jour sans les progrès techniques de l'IA, grâce auxquels une simple carte peut aujourd’hui refléter les millions de changements qui se produisent quotidiennement dans le monde, dans les grandes villes comme dans les plus petits villages. Aujourd’hui, Google Maps vous accompagne et vous guide dans tous vos déplacements, que vous soyez en voyage ou simplement en train de faire vos courses.

Announcing new Google Career Certificates to help Africans learn new skills for digital jobs

Africa’s growing technology ecosystem offers opportunities to create digital solutions that make traditional ways of working more productive, while enabling the creation of new income streams and job opportunities. However, employers across the continent state that many job seekers do not possess the requisite digital skills, limiting employability prospects and business growth. The COVID-19 pandemic has also driven home the importance of digital tools and skills. In its wake, the most successful businesses were those whose operating model and employees could easily navigate the crisis and transition to digital service delivery.

As a company, we are committed to being helpful contributors to Africa’s growth. We aim to equip people with the right skills, tools and products to navigate the digital world and to make it work for them. We are committed to helping job seekers gain relevant skills and advance their careers. In 2017, we committed to prepare 10 million people for jobs of the future over five years. So far, we have trained +5M people in Digital Skills through our Grow with Google programs. With lockdowns and jobs at risk because of COVID-19, we saw year-on-year demand for our training increase by 185%.


Today, we are announcing three new Google Career Certificates available online on Coursera, which enable people to become job-ready for growing career areas such as IT Support, Project Management, UX Design and Data Analytics. These low-cost programs help people who want to learn online at their own pace, or who may want to change careers and don't have the time or means to access traditional education. They can be completed in under six months and do not require relevant experience or a degree.

 


These certificates are entirely developed by Google but bring no revenue or profit for Google. They are product agnostic and are designed to help people prepare for jobs at any company or sector. We will be distributing 5,500 scholarships in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa this year.


In November 2020, Google.org invested $750,000 in grant funding to Junior Achievement Africa and the International Youth Foundation to provide 2,500 vulnerable learners with Career Certificate scholarships along with wrap-around support at every step of the learning journey, including: career advice, interview preparation, and peer-to-peer networks.


This year, we are working with distribution partners with strong workforce development programs to reach 3,000 additional learners with scholarships.




We believe these certificates will help close the growing skills gap in order to fully reap the benefits of Africa’s rapidly-expanding workforce. We urge governments and companies to join us in exploring new ways to remove barriers to learning and investing in innovative partnerships. We hope that with these new efforts even more people can develop the skills they need to thrive and improve their careers through technology.



Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde,  Head, Brand & Reputation, Sub Saharan Africa  


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A call for a better future for women and girls in Africa

Over the past year, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have posed major setbacks to hard-won social and economic gains for women around the world. Women in Africa are by no means exempt from the harsh aftershocks of the pandemic. In Kenya for example, 60% of recorded job losses since the beginning of the pandemic are accounted to women. 90% of working women in Africa are engaged in the informal sector which has been badly hit by reductions in social interaction, with approximately 81% lost in income in Sub-Saharan Africa. Reliance on the informal sector also limits women’s access to social safety nets like health insurance and unemployment benefits.



These alarming realities require swift and powerful action. We have a collective responsibility to make sure that generations of women and girls from all walks of life can live in a world where they are treated equally and reach their full potential.


This is why we are excited to launch our global Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls. We’re calling on ideas from nonprofits and social organizations around the world that are working to advance the economic empowerment of women and girls and create pathways to prosperity. Google.org will provide $25 million in overall funding and Impact Challenge grantees will receive mentoring from Googlers, Ad Grants and additional support to bring their ideas to life.


We are honored to stand alongside our partners from Vital Voices and Project Everyone, as well as our phenomenal panel of experts, to elevate the critical work that is happening around the world. Our panel is composed of women leaders from more than 15 countries across the world with a deep expertise in global public policy, advocacy, research, business, technology and more and includes the following from Africa - Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Victoria Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to the presidency on Nigeria on SDGs; Graça MachelFounder, Graça Machel Trust, and Juliana Rotich, Kenyan information technology entrepreneur. They will help guide us as we select the ideas with the greatest potential for impact. 



Over the years, we have invested in a variety of programs to support women across all stages of life - from students, to jobseekers and entrepreneurs. Whether it is the 2.4M women trained in digital skills, 20 Women Will communities impacting 20,000 women through events and networking opportunities in countries like SA, NG, UG, KE & GH, or 142 ambassadors in 118 Women Techmakers chapters who drive diversity and inclusion in tech, we are committed to empowering women in leadership, digital literacy, workplace readiness and entrepreneurship.



To support women-led businesses, we have recently launched a women-led attribute on Google Search and Maps in English speaking regions. Through the $20M commitment made by our CEO, Sundar Pichai, in 2017, our philanthropic arm, Google.org, has prioritised funding to nonprofit organizations that support gender equity and access to opportunity for women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have worked with grantees, such as the Codex, Solar Sister, W.Tec, GiveDirectly Kenya and SHOFCO, that are dedicated to the same cause. Learnings from this work show the need for more tailored learning solutions for women, creation of mentorship programs targeting women and acceleration of women-led networks.




Equity is at the core of what we do at Google, be it our products or programs. This new Impact Challenge will build on that work.

If you’re working on an innovative project that supports women and girls, or have a bold idea that will transform economic opportunities for women and girls, then check out g.co/womenandgirlschallenge to apply and learn more about the Challenge. Organizations have until Friday, April 9 to submit ideas, and grant recipients will be announced later this year.




Posted by Liza Belozerova,  Google.org Program Manager, Europe, Middle East & Africa
&  Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde,  Head of B&R Sub Saharan Africa

A call for a better future for women and girls in Africa

Over the past year, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have posed major setbacks to hard-won social and economic gains for women around the world. Women in Africa are by no means exempt from the harsh aftershocks of the pandemic. In Kenya for example, 60% of recorded job losses since the beginning of the pandemic are accounted to women. 90% of working women in Africa are engaged in the informal sector which has been badly hit by reductions in social interaction, with approximately 81% lost in income in Sub-Saharan Africa. Reliance on the informal sector also limits women’s access to social safety nets like health insurance and unemployment benefits.



These alarming realities require swift and powerful action. We have a collective responsibility to make sure that generations of women and girls from all walks of life can live in a world where they are treated equally and reach their full potential.


This is why we are excited to launch our global Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls. We’re calling on ideas from nonprofits and social organizations around the world that are working to advance the economic empowerment of women and girls and create pathways to prosperity. Google.org will provide $25 million in overall funding and Impact Challenge grantees will receive mentoring from Googlers, Ad Grants and additional support to bring their ideas to life.


We are honored to stand alongside our partners from Vital Voices and Project Everyone, as well as our phenomenal panel of experts, to elevate the critical work that is happening around the world. Our panel is composed of women leaders from more than 15 countries across the world with a deep expertise in global public policy, advocacy, research, business, technology and more and includes the following from Africa - Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Victoria Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to the presidency on Nigeria on SDGs; Graça MachelFounder, Graça Machel Trust, and Juliana Rotich, Kenyan information technology entrepreneur. They will help guide us as we select the ideas with the greatest potential for impact. 



Over the years, we have invested in a variety of programs to support women across all stages of life - from students, to jobseekers and entrepreneurs. Whether it is the 2.4M women trained in digital skills, 20 Women Will communities impacting 20,000 women through events and networking opportunities in countries like SA, NG, UG, KE & GH, or 142 ambassadors in 118 Women Techmakers chapters who drive diversity and inclusion in tech, we are committed to empowering women in leadership, digital literacy, workplace readiness and entrepreneurship.



To support women-led businesses, we have recently launched a women-led attribute on Google Search and Maps in English speaking regions. Through the $20M commitment made by our CEO, Sundar Pichai, in 2017, our philanthropic arm, Google.org, has prioritised funding to nonprofit organizations that support gender equity and access to opportunity for women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have worked with grantees, such as the Codex, Solar Sister, W.Tec, GiveDirectly Kenya and SHOFCO, that are dedicated to the same cause. Learnings from this work show the need for more tailored learning solutions for women, creation of mentorship programs targeting women and acceleration of women-led networks.




Equity is at the core of what we do at Google, be it our products or programs. This new Impact Challenge will build on that work.

If you’re working on an innovative project that supports women and girls, or have a bold idea that will transform economic opportunities for women and girls, then check out g.co/womenandgirlschallenge to apply and learn more about the Challenge. Organizations have until Friday, April 9 to submit ideas, and grant recipients will be announced later this year.




Posted by Liza Belozerova,  Google.org Program Manager, Europe, Middle East & Africa
&  Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde,  Head of B&R Sub Saharan Africa

South Africa is an explorer’s paradise


For us at South African Tourism, today marks the start of formalising a relationship and partnership with Google that will play a crucial part in the sector’s recovery. We know that digitally-led is the norm and through our partnership we hope to equip the sector with the necessary skills to thrive and adapt in a digital environment.

 

Nelson Mandela once described South Africa as the most beautiful place on earth, with its breathtaking scenery, wildlife safaris, active adventures, vibrant culture and friendly people. I’m thrilled to announce that, starting today, you can explore what makes the country so spectacular through our new online exhibition -- South Africa: an explorer’s paradise. Through over 500 high-resolution photographs and videos, 20 expertly-curated stories and 60 Street Views, you can join a safari to meet lions and elephants, or feel the rhythm of the cities and visit ancient geological sites. Step inside the oldest caves in the world and zoom into vast savannas, lush forests and sparkling oceans.

 



Here are four places to start:

Caption: A lioness photographed on a night drive at the Kruger National Park, from the collection of South African Tourism

 

1. Meet the Big Five in the South African bush
South Africa is famous for its awe-inspiring safaris, which allow visitors to experience the raw wonder of nature. Part of what makes the experience so special is the opportunity to see the Big Five: lions, leopards, buffalos, rhinos and elephants. Get to know these remarkable animals through exhibitions like Superstars of the South African Bush, or explore breathtaking views of the South African bushveld in Game Drives: A South African Experience.
Caption: Aerial view of Hole in the Wall in the Eastern Cape, from the collection of South African Tourism


2. Explore the country’s hidden gems
Do you know the myth of Hole in the Wall, about a young woman who falls in love with a sea deity? Or that Table Mountain is home to species that can’t be found anywhere else on earth, like the Table Mountain Ghost Frog? Get to know some of our country’s best kept secrets.
Caption: White River Rafting in Free State, South Africa, from the collection of South African Tourism


3. Take a virtual active adventure
If you’re the outdoorsy sort, South Africa has a lot to offer, from multi-day hikes and panoramic mountain views to rock climbing and rafting down roaring waters. Be sure to Head over to the Place of Great Noise where the raging waters of the Augrabies Falls meet the Orange River, South Africa’s longest river.
Caption: View of the Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga, from the collection of the South African Tourism Board



4. Travel to 55 locations with Google Street View
Use Street View to explore South Africa’s most breathtakingly beautiful sites: Visit Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain; experience the rocky plains of the Cederberg, where you can view the five-meter-high Maltese Cross; or amble through the lush Big Forest Tree Walk, taking in the ancient foliage around you.
Curious to see more? Check out g.co/sharesouthafrica or download the Google Arts & Culture app.
 




Posted by Sisa Ntshona, Chief Executive Officer, South African Tourism

Fostering innovation in Africa, the Middle East and Turkey

As part of our continuous effort to support the news industry around the world, we are launching our second Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge in Africa, the Middle East and Turkey. It’s an open call for projects that increase reader engagement and explore new business models to build a stronger future for journalism.



Last year, we selected 21 projects from 13 countries: Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Turkey, and the UAE. In South Africa, online news publisher Daily Maverick developed a “relevancy engine” for small and medium publishers to help them better understand reader insights and increase relevancy and increase subscriptions. Ringier Africa Digital Publishing in Nigeria was awarded funding to increase personalisation across its platform using a blend of prediction, recommendation and local information pages to increase user engagement. Kenyan awardee Africa Uncensored is aggregating news from members of the public to produce at scale. You can find out more about all of last year's recipients in this Keyword post.

Round 1 recipients Food for Mzansi showing their support



Applications are open from now until April 12. Established publishers, online-only players, news startups, publisher consortia and local industry associations are all eligible to apply. Projects will be evaluated against five criteria: impact on the news ecosystem, innovation, diversity, equity and inclusion; inspiration; and feasibility. The selected projects will be eligible to receive up to $150,000, not to exceed70%of the total project cost. We will not be funding any editorial-only projects, but instead are focusing on projects aimed at increasing reader engagement and exploring new business models.




How to apply
Applications, in English only, must be made online via our website and are open until Monday, April 12 at 23:59 GMT. We will also be holding an online town hall on March 3 at 13.00 GMT with a live presentation and the opportunity to ask questions. (Please note that Google does not take any equity or IP in any projects or submissions.)


We are looking forward to seeing new ideas, projects and big bets come out of the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, a region rich with talent, potential and opportunity. For more information about the challenge, visit g.co/newsinnovation.



Posted by Ludovic Blecher, head of innovation, Google News Initiative (GNI)


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Our commitment to learning and 50+ new education features


Learning is at the heart of what Google does. Every day more than a billion people come to Google to find answers or discover something new. Our Learning & Education team works to fuel that curiosity and help people build knowledge by connecting them to great learning experiences through our products — whether it's Search or YouTube, Google Classroom or Chromebooks.


After spending more than 20 years building Search, I recently started leading this team and working alongside Avni Shah, a 17-year Google veteran who leads Google for Education. Google for Education is all about bringing the best of Google to education — a goal we’ve been focused on for over 15 years. During the pandemic, people turned to technology more than ever to help them learn and teach from anywhere. While this hasn’t changed our mission, it’s accelerated our desire to do even more with our technology to help.


Over the past year, the education community has inspired us with their creativity and resilience, while always remaining focused on their students. Today, we’d like to share our commitments to this community and a glimpse into some of the 50+ new features across our education products that we hope will support even more learning. To get the full scoop on these announcements, tune in to Learning with Google, our global event streaming in 15 languages where you’ll hear a lot more directly from our team.



First, we want to enable every leader to bring innovation to their schools and universities, and give them the peace of mind that they’re investing in products that are secure and flexible to their needs.
  • The next era of G Suite for Education, Google Workspace for Education, offers leaders more choice and control.
  • New tools are coming to Classroom, including advanced analytics to help admins better understand usage and roster sync to save them time setting up classes.
  • New features coming to Meet give educators more visibility and control, including the ability to set policies for who can join their school’s video calls.
  • In Chrome OS, we’re debuting more than 40 new Chromebook models built for education, with information on how to choose the right ones for each schools’ unique needs, and 500 new Admin Console policies that will help manage and optimize Chromebook fleets.
  • For schools looking to understand student needs and scale support across digital and in-person learning, Google Cloud Student Success Services provides a range of options.

Secondly, we’re committed to building technology that empowers every educator. With simple, assistive tools, teachers can focus on what they do best: helping students reach their full potential.
  • Classroom add-ons, which are coming later this year, let teachers integrate their favorite third-party tools and content directly into the Classroom interface. They’ll also have easier access to engagement tracking to better understand how students interact with class and see who is falling behind.
  • We’re giving teachers more control over their virtual classrooms with new Google Meet features, including the ability to end meetings for everyone and the option to quickly mute everyone all at once.
  • We’re building a screen recording tool right into Chrome OS so teachers and students can capture instruction in real-time in the classroom and at-home.
We also strive to equip every student with the tools and skills they need to be successful. This means focusing on inclusivity and accessibility, so we can meet students wherever they are.
  • Later this year, we’ll add features for uploading pictures of paper assignments as well as making the Classroom Android app work offline so students can download their assignments and complete them without relying on a steady connection.
  • Emoji reactions in Meet are coming this year, giving students lightweight, non-disruptive ways to engage. Meet will also work better if you have low bandwidth, so students with weaker internet connections can stay on track.
  • Plus new accessibility features, like color cursors on Chromebooks and Switch access, let students learn with tools that suit their needs.
And finally, we commit to evolve every day through listening to and learning from the experts: the people that use our products. Yesterday’s magic quickly becomes today’s expectation. So as technology advances and improves, we’ll make sure it’s reflected in the tools we build for education.


Despite unforeseen obstacles and unknowns, teaching and learning continued over the past year. That’s all thanks to the heroic efforts of the education community — from teachers and education leaders to students and their families. We look forward to working together to reimagine learning and push the boundaries of what is possible, so that everyone has access to the quality learning experiences they deserve.



Ben Gomes, SVP Learning & Education






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Internet Day: Safer with Google

At Google, we are committed to providing safe tools and resources to explore the digital world for both families and children. A lot of essential services have been moved online due to quarantine and safe distancing measures under Covid-19. This makes sense. On one hand, it makes things more convenient, and we can do more from our devices. On the other hand, it creates a growing need to step up efforts to help more people stay safe while online. Reports estimate that 346 million people came online for the first time in the last 12 months, and 376 million people have used social media for the first time during the same period. If there has ever been a moment to amplify the online safety efforts, it is now.


This year, as we join the world to celebrate Safer Internet Day with the theme “Together for a better Internet", we’re pleased to announce new programs, in-conjunction with a few organizations, aimed at educating and developing programs to help more people keep safe while browsing the web.



Announcing winners of the Africa Online Safety Fund
As part of Safer Internet Day in 2020, our philanthropic arm, Google.org, announced the $1,000,000 Africa Online Safety Fund to tackle challenges related to hate, extremism, disinformation, and child safety, both online and offline in Africa. The grant was given to Impact Amplifier and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue to create and run an open call and mentorship platform to support innovative ideas by nonprofits and social enterprises around digital literacy and online safety of children, young people and families.

A year on, as we celebrate Safer Internet Day this year, 26 organizations across 9 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have been selected to receive grants of up to $100,000 to develop and scale projects in this space in this space


The Finalists

Organizations receiving up to $100,000
  1. ChildFund International (Kenya): Taking an ecosystem approach, which includes national research, community, school and media based training, and policy development to prevent online sex trafficking.
  2. Dream Factory Foundation (South Africa): Combining online educational programs through edutainment and train-the-trainer workshops with telehealth counseling services for young people, teachers and parents.
  3. Epuka Ugaidi (Kenya): Building a platform to channel youth creativity (short-films, poetry and music) through workshops, training and an annual competition as a mechanism to counter recruitment by violent extremists.
  4. Hive Creative Guild (Nigeria): Creating a large scale marketing platform, which gamifies online safety information and rewards participants with a variety of goods and services.
  5. Save the Children International, Senegal Country office (Senegal): Facilitating an awareness campaign and working with the media, child protective services, police and security forces to prevent online sexual abuse and exploitation
  6. Teens Can Code (Nigeria): Including online safety education into the coding curriculum for young adults and creating a peer-to-peer helpline to prevent and support victims of cybercrimes.
  7. The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (South Africa): Developing and disseminating content that counters mis/disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic; and exposes manipulation networks that promote hate.
  8. University of Gondar (Ethiopia): Focusing on female high school students, this project will create online safety teaching materials, train teachers to deliver it and introduce these materials into the high school curriculum.

Organizations receiving up to $10,000

  1. Action et Humanisme (Cote D’Ivoire): Developing an initiative that will equip female sales people, entrepreneurs, civil servants, and young people with the digital financial security skills needed to keep them safe.
  2. Aydia Technology Consultants (Uganda): Providing digital skills and online safety and security training to female politicians and reporters to promote digital inclusion, protect and empower them
  3. EndCode (South Africa): Creating a framework and guidelines for defining age-appropriate online services.
  4. Epower (Nigeria): Developing an interactive gaming application tackling issues like cyberbullying and equipping tackling issues like cyberbullying and equipping children with good online etiquette, helping them stay safe online. helping them stay safe online.
  5. Fundanii (South Africa): Training teachers, students, and integrating online safety into the digital literacy curriculum of a primary school district.
  6. Global Leading Light Initiatives (South Africa): Facilitating student-driven and culturally inclusive internet safety education and awareness activities to empower young people, teachers and parents
  7. Iceaddis (Ethiopia): Building an educational how-to guide on healthy internet habits and social media literacy.
  8. LagosMums (Nigeria): Promoting online safety and digital well-being through training, resource development and short courses for parents, teachers and children.
  9. Lonamac (Kenya): Introducing income generating programs and activities for low-income youth as a mechanism to counteract terrorist recruitment efforts targeting youth.
  10. Media Monitoring Africa (South Africa): Creating and distributing educational online comic strips as a means to teach children how to critically decipher information and discern between credible news and disinformation.
  11. Mzuzu Entrepreneur Hub (Malawi): Training women-led and tech and tech organisations on privacy and the prevention of financial scams.
  12. PAJAN Kenya (Kenya): A communication platform where community members, the public sector and civil society can access resources on fact checking to prevent extremist groups recruitment.
  13. Read Nigeria Book Reading Club (Nigeria): Educating primary and high school students about online safety through a series of online quizzes and essay competitions and offline education for schools and parents.
  14. SheHacks Kenya (Kenya): A platform that uses interactive role playing to teach students and educators on the risks associated with internet usage and how to mitigate them.
  15. Sote Information & Communication Technology (Kenya): Providing physical and online training to high school students, parents and teachers that addresses a broad range of online safety issues.
  16. Tanzania Trans Initiative (Tanzania): Facilitating a radio show and workshops that target the online safety issues that affect women and girls.
  17. Velma Foundation (Nigeria): Establishing a rehabilitation program and ICT hub for juvenile cybercrime offenders,educating and working with the government, young people and companies in addressing online criminal activity and vulnerabilities.
  18. Winam Wezesha Accelerator (Kenya): Creating a community based approach to educational programs, which focus on hate crimes, disinformation and digital literacy for women and children.

Providing free online safety books for 30,000 Students & Schools across Africa

Last year we announced the launch of the online safety story book titled 'How to be Safe Online’, developed in partnership with children’s author Nomthi Odukoya, with a goal of helping children aged 10-16 years to better understand online safety in a more fun and easier way. We also announced that a free downloadable e-version was available for advanced readers aged 8 and above on the Read Along app.

While we've been excited to see how popular these have been, we’ve been exploring more avenues to get these books to more children, especially those without regular access to computers and mobile devices. Today we’re pleased to announce we will be providing physical copies of the book to 30,000 students and schools across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

Working with governments in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa
We understand that policymakers play a vital role in amplifying online safety efforts in Africa, and collaborating with them provides the scale to guarantee that more people get the resources they need. This year, we have placed more focus into partnerships that ensure that children remain safe while home-schooling online. In South Africa we ran online safety training for parents in partnership with the Department of Social Development and Film and Publications Board. We also launched an Online Safety Curriculum Guideline in partnership with the Western Cape Education Department to scale the awareness and uptake of online safety content in schools.

In Kenya, we collaborated with the Communications Authority of Kenya and the Kenya Film Classification Board to scale our online safety program for teachers, parents, and guardians through a series of webinars.

In Nigeria, we have collaborated with Public and Private Development (PPDC), through their Digital Inclusion and Safer Internet (DISI) program to run online safety webinars for teachers, parents, and children; educating them about safety tips and Google safety tools like Family Link and Youtube Kids.. Through the collaboration, we have established Webranger virtual clubs across secondary schools in Nigeria, despite the outbreak of COVID19. Also the approved Online safety curriculum developed in collaboration with NERDC and adopted across schools in Nigeria was used to carry out teachers' capacity building training across selected states in Nigeria.


Celebrate Safer Internet day with us by using the Password Manager to save your password with your Google account and Security Checkup These tools are important to help create a positive online experience for everyone. Visit the Safety Centre for more tools and resources on online safety .


Posted by Charles Murito, Director, Government Relations & Public Policy, Africa.

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Supporting Kenya’s Economic Recovery

Like many economies, Kenya is reeling from the impact of Covid-19. Businesses have been hit during the pandemic and jobs have been lost. Many small businesses have had to figure out quickly how to pivot their operations to a ‘digital-first’ approach. Yesterday, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, joined H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta in an event hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa and announced more ways in which Google will help Kenyan businesses and communities to recover and grow.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai meeting with H.E President Kenyatta where Google committed $10M to support Kenya's economic recovery




Supporting economic recovery
In September 2020, we announced support for African businesses, job seekers and educational institutions in navigating the pandemic. Through Google for Education we trained over 2,000 teachers, educators and guardians on remote teaching and learning, and online safety. 20 Kenyan technology-enabled companies have graduated from our Google for Startups Accelerator programs, where entrepreneurs receive access to Google’s mentors, products and best practices. We will continue to support Kenyan businesses, entrepreneurs, developers, education professionals, and other communities on the long road ahead towards economic recovery.


Helping Kenyan businesses, startups and communities
We’re committing USD10M (around 1.1B Kenyan shillings) to help drive economic recovery in Kenya, focusing on the following areas:
  • USD 2M (220M Kenyan shillings) to local nonprofits via Google.org, to help underserved communities recover from the pandemic;
  • USD 3M (330M Kenyan shillings) in small business loans to help Kenyan business people & entrepreneurs get through the economic hardship created by COVID-19;
  • USD 5M (550M Kenyan shillings) to support Kenyan tech startups.
Economic recovery is also about digital transformation. Last year we released the Digital Sprinters report which offers a framework for emerging economies, like Kenya, to drive digital transformation and inclusive economic growth. By 2030, digital transformation could unlock $74 billion in economic impact in Kenya through policies that enable the full utilisation of digital technologies.


We’ll have more to announce in the next few months about how we’re helping more people and more businesses in Kenya and across Africa.


Agnes Gathaiya, Country Director, Kenya & Eastern Africa


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