Tag Archives: Google in Europe

Help build a digital future in Central & Eastern Europe

Technology has been a lifeline for many European businesses and communities throughout the pandemic—from helping people find accurate health information and buy groceries online to finding new ways to learn and stay connected with loved ones. But equally, the pandemic has also widened the social divide, putting disadvantaged groups at risk of being further left behind. As economies embark on a path to recovery, creating an accessible digital future for everyone will be vital.  

To help fill that need, today we are launching our first Google.org Impact Challenge dedicated to Central and Eastern Europe. With this initiative we are further committing to the region, and we will be distributing €2 million in grants to organizations that are working to bridge the social and digital divide to promote inclusive economic growth and recovery. (For those who are interested, applications are open now until March 1, 2021.) 

Make sure everyone in CEE has access to digital opportunities

This work is particularly important for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), where governments, businesses and communities have outlined their ambition to make digital a driver of economic prosperity for the more than 100 million people who live in the region. The CEE countries are working together as part of the Three Seas Initiative to make that vision a reality, and we are doing our part to help.

Last year Google pledged to help 10 million people and businesses across Europe, Middle East and Africa digitize, grow and find new careers. In the CEE region specifically, we helped 250,000 people grow their digital skills or transition to a digital-focused career in 2020 alone.  

Similarly, just in the past year Google.org has also given more than €1.5 million in individual grant funding to several charitable organisations in Central and Eastern Europe that are working to improve digital-enabled education and economic opportunity. We’ve been inspired by how these organizations give back to their communities. Digital Nation helps facilitate remote employment in disadvantaged areas across Romania through offering a virtual training program tailored to IT jobs and supporting small businesses through digital upskilling. And other organizations, like the Czechitas initiative in Czechia, Women Go Tech in Lithuania and Riga Tech Girls in Latvia, are all working to build a digital future for all and helping connect women to professional opportunities in tech. 

With this Google.org Impact Challenge, we’re excited to see all the new ways organizations can positively impact their communities and build an inclusive digital future for all.  

Apply with your bold ideas by March 1, 2021

Applications for the Google.org Impact Challenge for Central and Eastern Europe are now open. We’re looking for initiatives that aim to rebuild the economy with social inclusion at its core. The ideas can be big or small and at any level of maturity—whether it’s a new idea or a well-established effort poised to scale. Applicants must apply with projects that are charitable in nature, meet the application criteria, and be based in one of the following countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Eligible organizations (including nonprofit organizations, for-profit companies and academic institutions) can apply for support for their charitable projects until March 1, 2021 at g.co/ceechallenge

We’ve asked a distinguished panel of experts to advise on the selection of the boldest and brightest project ideas. More than a dozen academics, leaders and civil society activists from across the region will help decide which applicants will receive between €50,000-€250,000 in grant funding and possible support from Google to help with their initiatives.

We hope this support will encourage social innovators across the region to think big about how they can use technology to help individuals and communities in Central and Eastern Europe thrive in a digitized economy. 

Supporting retail through Comparison Shopping Services

In 2020, people around the globe benefited from digital services more than ever. Internet usage has increased by 60 percent. E-commerce trade across the European Union has posted double-digit percentage growth since last year. Searches for the phrase “how to buy online” have jumped 200 percent worldwide.

Retailers are trying to adapt and meet evolving customer demands amidst the challenges brought on by the pandemic. At Google, we care deeply about helping retailers and providing our users with the most relevant information when they search for products. This sector alone accounts for more than nine percent of jobs in the European Union and is set to play a pivotal role in the region’s economic recovery.

Google’s Accelerating Retail initiative provides a range of useful technology, relevant insights, tools and training to bring retailers closer to their customers. So far we’ve engaged with more than 13,000 retailers across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

In Europe, our commitment to the retail sector extends to another group: Comparison Shopping Services (CSSs). These are websites that help retailers showcase their products online. They collect product offers from online retailers, surface them to shoppers and send prospective buyers directly to retailers’ websites to make their purchases. 

Shopping for home fragrances

A demonstration of how CSSs connect shoppers with retailers on the Google Search results page, using Shopping ads. In Europe, retailers participate in Shopping ads by partnering with one or several CSSs.

As part of our efforts to support and strengthen the overall retail ecosystem, we have also expanded our offerings for Comparison Shopping Services. Our free resources and tools available through the CSS Program assist them in several areas of their business operations, including: 

  • Managing product inventory from retailers at scale 

  • Receiving comprehensive support to optimize the performance of their Shopping ads

  • A bespoke online Google platform providing up-to-date training, market data, and product optimization tips.

The program currently helps 700 active participants, representing tens of thousands of retailers. Within our CSS Program, we have a Comparison Shopping Partners program, which gives  certified CSSs access to additional benefits. This includes direct collaboration with Google experts on the most advanced technical topics related to Shopping ads.

Merchants are seeing the value of these initiatives across the region. For example, Rituals Cosmetics, a luxury bath and body brand active in 28 countries, was looking for a partner to help them improve their performance marketing. They turned to their CSS, Producthero, for help. Together, Rituals and Producthero scaled Shopping ads with smart bidding and other advanced features. Combined with Producthero's own product feed optimization tool, Rituals achieved a triple-digit turnover increase in online sales within their spend targets.
Together with Producthero, we have completely changed our overall Shopping ads strategy. This was valuable not only for the performance marketing team but also for Rituals as a company. Martijn van der Zee, Chief Digital Officer, Ritual

We know that technology can help retailers reach a broad customer base as shoppers increasingly browse and buy online. Google is committed to continue investing in the retail industry through the CSS program and other tools and products designed especially for retailers. We want to help the industry adapt, grow, and achieve success with relevant ads that bring them closer to their customers. 

A more private web can help businesses grow

Ads play a major role in sustaining the free and open web. They support great content and services from a diverse range of creators and publishers. They help companies of all sizes reach customers more efficiently than ever before. 

Yet people’s expectations for the collection and use of data are changing, which means the web as we know it—free, open and ad-supported—is changing, too. Internet platforms, web browsers and ad-blocking features are promising more privacy by blocking common technologies like cookies. This takes a toll on the funds that content creators, newsrooms, web developers and videographers depend on to support their work. It also means that companies that rely on these technologies must respect the demand for a more private web in order for the web itself to remain dynamic and vibrant over the long term. 

We strongly believe that advertising and privacy can coexist. Helping businesses adapt to a privacy-safe web isn’t just good business practice—if done right, and done collaboratively, it can be an engine for economic recovery and growth.


The importance of online advertising 

When you see ads online, they’re usually placed with the support of widely available tools, often called ad technology or “ad tech,” that help companies get the most out of the money they spend on ads. Google competes with a range of companies large and small to provide these tools to the platforms, publishers, and advertisers that need them. 

All this competition drives us to innovate and improve our tools. Millions of publishers use Google advertising services to help make the digital advertising process easy and effective, and publishers retain about 70 percent of the revenue that’s generated (and for many, it’s even more). We’re constantly working to help them earn more: In 2019, we made nearly 80 product improvements aimed at improving publisher revenue, which generated revenue increases of more than 9 percent in total for publishers using Google Ad Manager.


What cookies do 

Much of online advertising makes use of a basic, widely available technology called cookies, which are part of the basic architecture of the web. They help with things like measuring the effectiveness of a company’s ad campaign or enabling a particular advertiser to reach the consumers it wants to reach.

However, cookies were conceived for an earlier era. It’s clear from privacy laws in Europe and around the world that citizens and governments want a greater understanding of how they work and more control over their use. And efforts by platforms, browsers and ad-blocking companies are already putting new limits on them.

In this changing landscape, the funds that web publishers rely on to support their operations are increasingly at risk. For example, an analysis of the 500 largest Google Ad Manager customers found that when third-party cookies are disabled, publishers receive on average 52 percent less programmatic ad revenue. Like others, Google also uses third-party cookies for ads we serve on other sites (for example, Google Ad Manager and AdSense) so Google will also be affected as the industry moves away from cookies.


The Privacy Sandbox 

The question today is whether the web can keep people’s information safe and private while also supporting the advertising that keeps so much of the web free. 

That’s why, as part of a larger initiative with the web standards community called the “Privacy Sandbox,” the engineers behind Google’s browser, Chrome, are working on ways to underpin a healthy, ad-supported web without third-party cookies. Privacy Sandbox aims to provide space for experimentation and input from technologists, businesses, publishers, regulators and more. Among the proposals being tested are privacy-safe ways to do things like predict and protect against fraud, properly measure if an ad campaign has “worked,” and find the right audience for an ad. One such proposal, Federated Learning of Cohorts, uses machine learning algorithms that run on individual devices to model groups of people by their browsing behaviors without creating individual ad profiles at all.

Coming up with these new technologies involves complicated trade-offs, but we believe that the decision to phase out support for third-party cookies is the right thing for privacy and the industry as a whole. That’s why we’re working with the industry in forums like the W3C, and are in active discussions with independent authorities, such as the Competition and Markets Authority and the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK, to help us find the best approach. 


Responsible use of data

We’re committed to having privacy-preserving mechanisms in place that address the industry’s critical needs before discontinuing support for third-party cookies. We think this will not only promote business growth for numerous companies, but could also increase competition in the sector overall by making it a healthier place to advertise and grow while still meeting consumers’ expectations.

Alongside our efforts to promote privacy, we’re increasing transparency on the data we use, and are investing in products to help people and businesses to understand, protect, move and benefit from data in new ways

Protecting people's personal data doesn’t have to be at odds with business growth. By focusing on the people who use our products and investing in new technologies to connect advertisers and publishers with users safely, we can create more value and promote a thriving future on the web—for everyone.

Our data centers support Europe’s green economic recovery

In 2020, families, schools and businesses moved online more than ever due to the pandemic. All the Google services you rely on are powered by our data centres, and we’ve had to ensure this infrastructure works for everyone as demand increased—for businesses using Google Cloud and Google Meet, and for anyone who asks a question on Search, watches a YouTube video, or uses Google Maps to get from A to B. 

In the last few weeks, we’ve added new infrastructure to Europe that supports the continent’s digital growth. Last month in Hamina, Finland, we were delighted to welcome Prime Minister Sanna Marin as she visited the construction site of our sixth data center building. Last week, we opened a new data center in Denmark in Fredericia. And just this week in the Netherlands, our second Dutch data center started its operation in Middenmeer.

A European green transition, powered by sustainable infrastructure

We’re proud that our data centers operate the cleanest cloud in the industry. They are on average twice as energy efficient as a typical enterprise data center. Compared to five years ago, we now deliver around seven times as much computing power with the same amount of electrical power. 

Last week Europe announced its ambitious55 percent reduction target for CO2 emissions by 2030, in addition to its 32 percent renewable energy target. Google is helping to accelerate this transition, having supported nearly 1,700 megawatts of new renewable energy projects in Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands. And we are committed to supporting the EU Climate Pact, as technology will have a critical role to play in making the EU Green Deal vision a reality.

Taking the world’s greenest data center fleet to the next level

Our AI technology helps reduce the energy we use to cool our data centers by 30 percent, and we make it available for use by airports, shopping malls, hospitals, data centers and other commercial buildings and industrial facilities. 
But we’re not stopping there. A few months ago, we announced our Third Decade of Climate Action: an ambitious plan to help build a carbon-free future and operate on clean energy around the clock. This is far more challenging than the traditional approach of matching energy usage with renewable energy, but we’re working to get this done in the next nine years.

Contributing to European growth with our (new) data centers

In addition to enabling the greenest, cleanest cloud, all these sites bring economic growth and employment to local communities and to Europe. In Finland, our data center has brought €1.2 billion in investment and supported 1700 jobs every year since 2009. During construction of our Denmark data center, we spent over €600 million and supported 2600 jobs. And in the Netherlands, we’ve directly invested €2.5 billion since 2014.

In the next five years, we expect to anchor €2 billion in new carbon-free energy generation projects and green infrastructure in Europe, helping to develop new technologies to make round-the-clock carbon-free energy cheaper and more widely available. 

Investing in our local communities

Partnerships at the local level make all the difference to communities. We have long worked with local NGOs in our data center communities and have donated millions to important initiatives in Europe, including skills training in cooperation with local colleges and universities. 

We have supported multiple education programmes focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), as well as environmental and cultural projects. For example, in Denmark we recently supported two projects with the Museum Fredericia that will promote local history through virtual experiences. In the Netherlands, we’ve helped with the preservation of local bee and butterfly populations. And in Ireland, during COVID-19, we’ve assisted vulnerable communities, and have given grants to local schools to provide students with laptops and enable home schooling.

We are proud to invest in Europe’s digital infrastructure, contribute to the local communities we operate in and support Europe’s green transition. This will be a decisive decade, and we are committed to leading by example.

Stadia arrives in eight new European countries

We created Stadia to make great games more accessible. You don’t need to buy new hardware because Stadia works with the things you already own: laptops, desktops, compatible phones and tablets, and popular game controllers. And Stadia works instantly, without waiting for your games to download or update.


Now millions more people can play games on Stadia as it becomes available in eight new European countries. If you’re in Austria, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia or Switzerland, you can easily sign up at Stadia.com. Access to Stadia in all these countries rolls out over the next 24 hours. Stadia now works for anyone with a Gmail address in 22 countries: Once you’ve registered, you can play Destiny 2 and Super Bomberman R Online for free immediately. 


All new Stadia users can also get one free month of Stadia Pro, our premium subscription service that includes a ton of free games just waiting for you to grab and start playing. Every game you claim on Stadia Pro is yours as long as you remain a member, and more new free games are added every month. You can continue your Stadia Pro subscription for €9.99 a month and you can opt out at any time.


And you can buy even more games in the Stadia store. Whether you’re waiting to walk the streets of Night City in Cyberpunk 2077, or become a legendary Viking warrior raised on tales of battle and glory in Assassin's Creed Valhalla, there’s something for everyone.


Subscribe to Stadia’s YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more updates. See you on Stadia!

5 reasons to watch startups in Central and Eastern Europe

In 2015 we opened Google for Startups Campus Warsaw, a dedicated space in the middle of the city’s bustling Praga district, where startups can receive training and mentorship. We opened our doors to founders from across the region because we passionately believe they’re the ones shaping the future of their countries’ economies, and we have the resources and connections to help them grow. 

In the past five years, Campus Warsaw has become a hub for programs and events (welcoming 100,000 visitors in total), and a flourishing community of over 1,800 startups. And we’ve had the privilege of supporting founders in their endeavor to question the status quo. Working with these determined entrepreneurs has shown me that there are five key reasons to watch the startup ecosystem in Central and Eastern Europe.

1. Tech talent pool has real game—literally.

CEE startup career opportunities extend well beyond entrepreneurs: Startups in our community have hired 43,000+ employees to date across a variety of industries. There are about one million software developers in Central and Eastern Europe, 50 percent of whom are concentrated in Poland, Romania, and Czechia. Such a high concentration of highly skilled and educated tech workers led to the rapid development of sectors such as gaming. Poland boasts over 440 gaming development studios—launching more than 480 new games each year—and gaming is the second-largest sector in our CEE Google for Startups community.

People working on computers

Startups receive one-on-one Google mentoring at Campus Warsaw and via virtual programming.

2. The number of startups has doubled in the last five years. 

...and the total continues to grow rapidly. In Poland alone, there are now about 4,500 startups. More than half generate revenue and a quarter are scaling (aka growing their customer base, offerings, and the company itself). The profile of the average founder has also evolved: To a large extent, startups are founded by people who are over 30 years old and already have relevant experience and networks from previous stages of their careers.

A female startup founder

 35 percent of founders at Google for Startups Campus Warsaw are women

3. Foreign investments in CEE startups are at a record high.   

Venture capital investors are searching for new investment opportunities across Europe, and the CEE region is becoming increasingly attractive. According to the global startup data platform Dealroom, there’s five times more foreign VC investment in the ecosystem than there was in 2015. And it’s twice as easy to secure funding for a business: 69 percent of startups obtain financing, as stated in our “Five Years of Google for Startups in CEE” report, which we prepared together with Startup Poland and Kantar.
Two founders chatting on a couch

Founders find inspiration in coworking spaces at Campus Warsaw in 2018

4. The booming ecosystem offers support for founders at every step. 

Startups based in CEE have many organizations and resources to turn to when they need a helping hand in growing their business. In 2019, Poland alone boasted approximately 50 coworking spaces, totalling over 200,000 square meters. Since opening our Google for Startups Campus space, we’ve hosted over 1800 educational and inspirational events for founders to help them build, start, and grow their companies. "Here at Campus, I am surrounded by and have access to individuals who want to have an impact, solve tough problems, or challenge the status quo,” said Joanna Fedorowicz, founder and CEO of OvuFriend. “I have never been more motivated and prepared to take my startup to the next level.” 

Campus Warsaw building

Google for Startups Campus Warsaw in 2020C

5. CEE founders must have a global mindset.  

As the local CEE markets are relatively small, startups in our region need to think globally from day one. Those who design their products for an international scale are at the forefront of the European tech startup scene. So far, 12 unicorns (startups valued at over $1 billion) have sprung out of the CEE region, with a combined value of €30 billion. Most were founded in Romania and Poland, with a promising batch of stars rising across the whole region. And we’re proud to support them every step of the way. “After our first successes, like many other startups, we reached a point when scaling up and entering another level of growth became a challenge,” said Iga Czubak, founder and CEO ofQurczak. “During the Google for Startups program, we reevaluated our whole business model and analyzed every aspect of our company's strategy, which enabled us to keep growing." 

People playing foosball.

Campus Warsaw founders celebrate successes—as well as crushing foosball defeats.

I promised a list of five, but I’m going to sneak in a sixth: The number one thing I’ve learned over the past five years is this: No matter if startup is just starting out or scaling to meet the needs of new consumers, businesses, and society, we will keep on connecting them—whether online or IRL—with the right products, skills and people to navigate the road ahead. Because when startups succeed, it’s good for all of us, in CEE and beyond.

How Google is helping me connect with family this year

In a normal year, my family would be planning for our 12-hour flight to South Africa, my home country, to see family for the holidays. But since we can’t do that this year, we’re trying to reimagine the usual gatherings and traditions—the same way we’ve already reimagined work, school, birthdays and other holidays.

I’ve been thinking back to how we coped with lockdown in March and April, and using that to figure out how to close out the year. Like every other family with small children, I am not entirely sure how I managed it—and let’s be honest, most of the time I relied on pure survival tactics. But I also developed a range of new hacks and skills, making use of a few practical Google products. As we prepare to do it all again, with shorter days and colder weather, these are some of the lessons I’ll take with me:

photo of a girl coloring while having a virtual video call with her grandma on a laptop

Storytime Hour with Granny comes with a free printout to color with each story.

Near or far, loved ones can be close

So many families are dispersed across the globe. I live in the UK, but I’m originally from South Africa, and my family still resides there. I haven’t ever experienced what it’s like to have parents living nearby, but somehow during lockdown the thing I needed most was to have my mum there to lend a hand with the kids or just pop in for a cup of tea. My children were not in school, and I was managing a large project at work. To add insult to injury, my kids also openly admitted that my storytelling was just not up to scratch during our daily school lessons, and that they’d prefer to “hear from Granny, because she does the funny voices.”


Necessity being the mother of invention, “Storytime Hour with Granny” was born. 


We began a tradition of setting up a Google Meet every afternoon, so she could read a story to her grandchildren for an hour. We set up the call in Google Calendar, where it was easy for her to simply click on the Meet link, and for one precious hour, my children were transported to another place, mesmerized by old storybooks. (And I transported myself to my home office for some less mesmerizing but blessedly uninterrupted focus time while listening to questionable music and sipping coffee that wasn’t cold, for a change.)

Two children roll out dough while watching an instructional video on YouTube

Sometimes you need to consult the biscuit instructors. Yes, that is a job. 

Create a class

As much as my kids loved the connection with their grandmother, they also needed to connect with their friends. My son is in his third year of primary school, so he’s not old enough to socialize virtually on his own. So I set up a weekly “class assembly” where he could connect with his peers, say hello and spend most of the hour pulling faces at each other. Using Google Meet on my laptop meant we could see all 30 kids and their parents joining from their homes. (Even if, at times, the camera was pointed towards the ceiling or only the top of a child’s head.) 


Each week we picked a different topic to talk about. When it was my turn, I hosted a banana bread-making class, where I asked the Google Assistant to pull up a simple recipe from YouTube that we could all follow easily. As a backup, the Google Assistant can quickly provide answers to questions such as “How many tablespoons is one cup?” (It was also helpful with the many other fundamental questions lockdown brings, such as “How many blues are there in the world?” and “What does a peregrine falcon sound like?” among others I needed reminding of, such as what day of the week it was.)

photo of a Next Hub Max displaying a photo of two children on swings

Besides all the helpful features, Nest Hub Max can display a seemingly infinite carousel of photos.

Share and display your photos 

As my parents live far away, this year I have decided to gift them a Nest Hub Max for Christmas. I know my mum will keep it in the kitchen, which means she can watch YouTube videos, stream Netflix content, listen to music and make video calls on Google Duo, all while she’s preparing meals or having tea. It also means my parents won’t need to set up their laptop for Storytime Hour anymore; they can just dial in straight from this nifty device. 


But the thing I’m most excited about is the Nest Hub Max’s photo frame feature. All grandparents love photos, but they seem to have taken on new significance in the absence of face-to-face visits—even the not-so-photogenic ones (and like many families who take photos on the fly, we have plenty of those action shots). And now my children won’t have to say, “Take a picture! Don’t forget to send it to Granny! Did you send it to Granny? You forgot, didn’t you?” Soon they’ll be able to automatically see and enjoy those moments in a shared photo album from Google Photos shown on the display, whether it’s that vacation we took to Croatia pre-lockdown, or a macro close-up of my daughter’s forehead. To enable this, all you need to do is set up the Nest Hub photo frame feature.
photo of two children in a bedroom crowding around and looking intently at a nightstand

“That’s a really great photo of your arm...or is that my arm?”

Help with bedtime

When the days slip into more days that feel exactly the same as all the other days, creating a set daily schedule—especially for bedtime—has been key to helping my children settle down. I set up a Routine using the Google Assistant on a Google Nest Mini in the kids’ room. As they’re getting into their pajamas and bouncing off the walls, I say the command that, frankly, Mary Poppins would’ve been grateful for: "Hey Google, bedtime." I’m given tomorrow’s weather forecast (informing us, almost always, that we’ll need to pack an umbrella) and any scheduled calendar events. It then sets an alarm for the morning and dims the lights, ready for story time. To help them nod off, it also plays relaxing sounds, turning the noise off automatically after an hour when they are hopefully sound asleep. This has really helped them adjust to their own rhythm at home, even if it doesn’t always go to plan—which, let’s be honest, is at least 50 percent of the time. But at least the chaos is accompanied by the lulling background noise of crashing waves.

Oakland Care and Nest help residents connect for the holidays

Editor's note: This story is guest authored by Aaron White, Business Services Manager at Oakland Care, a leading provider of residential care homes in the United Kingdom.

The current pandemic has been devastating in many ways, and as someone who works for a group of care homes, Oakland Care, it’s been particularly heartbreaking to see its effects on our residents. UK Government guidelines required care homes to ensure residents maintain a social distance from their loved ones. Visits from sons, daughters and grandchildren have always brought so much joy to our Homes, but the virus’s high impact on older people has meant that these once-welcome visits brought too much risk to their health and that of the team members. 

Our primary focus has had to be protecting people from the virus, but with that comes a risk of isolation and loneliness. So, we wanted to try and bring our residents some reprieve by offering them a new way to connect with their loved ones. As the person responsible for innovation at Oakland Care, I’ve been keenly focused on how we can use new technologies to improve our residents’ lives. In partnership with Google and Volara, we explored how technology could help  connect families, as well as help our residents explore new ways to stay entertained.

Two weeks ago—just in time for the holidays—we introduced our residents to Google for Senior Living, a solution where we could use Nest Hub Max smart displays in our care homes. We initially thought we would experience challenges setting the devices up, but we were impressed by how hassle-free it was, and the residents found them easy to use and quickly grew accustomed to them.

Image shows an elderly woman in a wheelchair with a nurse who is wearing a mask leaning over her shoulder. Bother women are looking at a Google Nest Hub Max and reading a booklet with instructions. The nurse is pointing at the screen, and the woman in the wheelchair is smiling.

Resident Sylvia Culling learns how to use her Google Nest Hub Max.

This has enabled our residents—many of whom do not use a smartphone, let alone a smart display—to learn how to easily video call someone special with voice commands, which is especially helpful for those who struggle with buttons or remembering how to use technology. It’s sparked once again that warm feeling and those bright smiles that come from being face-to-face with their children, sharing a memory with an old friend or seeing their grandchildren laugh and play. Residents have also enjoyed using voice commands to listen to favorite songs on YouTube Music, the latest football scores or news and weather forecasts. 

Take Winnie, a resident at Lambwood Heights, one of our care facilities. She was used to seeing her two daughters, Carole and Margaret, almost every day before the pandemic. With a new Nest Hub Max in her room, she can dial them up for a phone or video call whenever she wants to. It gives her control over when and how she speaks to her loved ones and has really helped her feel more content over this period. 

An elderly woman with brown hair wearing a sweater looks at Nest Hub Max screen that's playing a video of people tap dancing on it. The device is sitting on a table where she also has family photos in frames.

Winnie enjoys watching old tap dancing films in her room.

Winnie used to be a dancer, performing at London’s famous Windmill Theatre when she was just a teenager. Music is really important to her, and her Nest Hub Max allows her to call up favorite tunes whenever she feels the rhythm in her feet. She keeps her tap shoes nearby, and sometimes she pops them on when the music is playing, especially when she wants some time to herself. Having the Nest device means she can close the door and watch her favorite TV show, “Strictly Come Dancing.”

Nest Hub Max has become a much-adored companion for our residents, brightening days during what has been a tragic year for many. It’s been extremely fulfilling to see the impact this technology has already had, and I can’t wait to introduce the device to new residents, and hopefully bring more of this type of technology to the Oakland Care community.

Oakland Care and Nest help residents connect for the holidays

Editor's note: This story is guest authored by Aaron White, Business Services Manager at Oakland Care, a leading provider of residential care homes in the United Kingdom.

The current pandemic has been devastating in many ways, and as someone who works for a group of care homes, Oakland Care, it’s been particularly heartbreaking to see its effects on our residents. UK Government guidelines required care homes to ensure residents maintain a social distance from their loved ones. Visits from sons, daughters and grandchildren have always brought so much joy to our Homes, but the virus’s high impact on older people has meant that these once-welcome visits brought too much risk to their health and that of the team members. 

Our primary focus has had to be protecting people from the virus, but with that comes a risk of isolation and loneliness. So, we wanted to try and bring our residents some reprieve by offering them a new way to connect with their loved ones. As the person responsible for innovation at Oakland Care, I’ve been keenly focused on how we can use new technologies to improve our residents’ lives. In partnership with Google and Volara, we explored how technology could help  connect families, as well as help our residents explore new ways to stay entertained.

Two weeks ago—just in time for the holidays—we introduced our residents to Google for Senior Living, a solution where we could use Nest Hub Max smart displays in our care homes. We initially thought we would experience challenges setting the devices up, but we were impressed by how hassle-free it was, and the residents found them easy to use and quickly grew accustomed to them.

Image shows an elderly woman in a wheelchair with a nurse who is wearing a mask leaning over her shoulder. Bother women are looking at a Google Nest Hub Max and reading a booklet with instructions. The nurse is pointing at the screen, and the woman in the wheelchair is smiling.

Resident Sylvia Culling learns how to use her Google Nest Hub Max.

This has enabled our residents—many of whom do not use a smartphone, let alone a smart display—to learn how to easily video call someone special with voice commands, which is especially helpful for those who struggle with buttons or remembering how to use technology. It’s sparked once again that warm feeling and those bright smiles that come from being face-to-face with their children, sharing a memory with an old friend or seeing their grandchildren laugh and play. Residents have also enjoyed using voice commands to listen to favorite songs on YouTube Music, the latest football scores or news and weather forecasts. 

Take Winnie, a resident at Lambwood Heights, one of our care facilities. She was used to seeing her two daughters, Carole and Margaret, almost every day before the pandemic. With a new Nest Hub Max in her room, she can dial them up for a phone or video call whenever she wants to. It gives her control over when and how she speaks to her loved ones and has really helped her feel more content over this period. 

An elderly woman with brown hair wearing a sweater looks at Nest Hub Max screen that's playing a video of people tap dancing on it. The device is sitting on a table where she also has family photos in frames.

Winnie enjoys watching old tap dancing films in her room.

Winnie used to be a dancer, performing at London’s famous Windmill Theatre when she was just a teenager. Music is really important to her, and her Nest Hub Max allows her to call up favorite tunes whenever she feels the rhythm in her feet. She keeps her tap shoes nearby, and sometimes she pops them on when the music is playing, especially when she wants some time to herself. Having the Nest device means she can close the door and watch her favorite TV show, “Strictly Come Dancing.”

Nest Hub Max has become a much-adored companion for our residents, brightening days during what has been a tragic year for many. It’s been extremely fulfilling to see the impact this technology has already had, and I can’t wait to introduce the device to new residents, and hopefully bring more of this type of technology to the Oakland Care community.

Oakland Care and Nest help residents connect for the holidays

Editor's note: This story is guest authored by Aaron White, Business Services Manager at Oakland Care, a leading provider of residential care homes in the United Kingdom.

The current pandemic has been devastating in many ways, and as someone who works for a group of care homes, Oakland Care, it’s been particularly heartbreaking to see its effects on our residents. UK Government guidelines required care homes to ensure residents maintain a social distance from their loved ones. Visits from sons, daughters and grandchildren have always brought so much joy to our Homes, but the virus’s high impact on older people has meant that these once-welcome visits brought too much risk to their health and that of the team members. 

Our primary focus has had to be protecting people from the virus, but with that comes a risk of isolation and loneliness. So, we wanted to try and bring our residents some reprieve by offering them a new way to connect with their loved ones. As the person responsible for innovation at Oakland Care, I’ve been keenly focused on how we can use new technologies to improve our residents’ lives. In partnership with Google and Volara, we explored how technology could help  connect families, as well as help our residents explore new ways to stay entertained.

Two weeks ago—just in time for the holidays—we introduced our residents to Google for Senior Living, a solution where we could use Nest Hub Max smart displays in our care homes. We initially thought we would experience challenges setting the devices up, but we were impressed by how hassle-free it was, and the residents found them easy to use and quickly grew accustomed to them.

Image shows an elderly woman in a wheelchair with a nurse who is wearing a mask leaning over her shoulder. Bother women are looking at a Google Nest Hub Max and reading a booklet with instructions. The nurse is pointing at the screen, and the woman in the wheelchair is smiling.

Resident Sylvia Culling learns how to use her Google Nest Hub Max.

This has enabled our residents—many of whom do not use a smartphone, let alone a smart display—to learn how to easily video call someone special with voice commands, which is especially helpful for those who struggle with buttons or remembering how to use technology. It’s sparked once again that warm feeling and those bright smiles that come from being face-to-face with their children, sharing a memory with an old friend or seeing their grandchildren laugh and play. Residents have also enjoyed using voice commands to listen to favorite songs on YouTube Music, the latest football scores or news and weather forecasts. 

Take Winnie, a resident at Lambwood Heights, one of our care facilities. She was used to seeing her two daughters, Carole and Margaret, almost every day before the pandemic. With a new Nest Hub Max in her room, she can dial them up for a phone or video call whenever she wants to. It gives her control over when and how she speaks to her loved ones and has really helped her feel more content over this period. 

An elderly woman with brown hair wearing a sweater looks at Nest Hub Max screen that's playing a video of people tap dancing on it. The device is sitting on a table where she also has family photos in frames.

Winnie enjoys watching old tap dancing films in her room.

Winnie used to be a dancer, performing at London’s famous Windmill Theatre when she was just a teenager. Music is really important to her, and her Nest Hub Max allows her to call up favorite tunes whenever she feels the rhythm in her feet. She keeps her tap shoes nearby, and sometimes she pops them on when the music is playing, especially when she wants some time to herself. Having the Nest device means she can close the door and watch her favorite TV show, “Strictly Come Dancing.”

Nest Hub Max has become a much-adored companion for our residents, brightening days during what has been a tragic year for many. It’s been extremely fulfilling to see the impact this technology has already had, and I can’t wait to introduce the device to new residents, and hopefully bring more of this type of technology to the Oakland Care community.