Tag Archives: Google Maps

“L10n” – Localisation: Breaking down language barriers to unleash the benefits of the internet for all Indians

In July, at the Google for India event, we outlined our vision to make the Internet helpful for a billion Indians, and power the growth of India’s digital economy. One critical area that we need to overcome is the challenge of India’s vast linguistic diversity, with dialects changing every hundred kilometres. More often than not, one language doesn’t seamlessly map to another. A word in Bengali roughly translates to a full sentence in Tamil and there are expressions in Urdu which have no adequately evocative equivalent in Hindi. 


This poses a formidable challenge for technology developers, who rely on commonly understood visual and spoken idioms to make tech products work universally. 


We realised early on that there was no way to simplify this challenge - that there wasn’t any one common minimum that could address the needs of every potential user in this country. If we hoped to bring the potential of the internet within reach of every user in India, we had to invest in building products, content and tools in every popularly spoken Indian language. 


India’s digital transformation will be incomplete if English proficiency continues to be the entry barrier for basic and potent uses of the Internet such as buying and selling online, finding jobs, using net banking and digital payments or getting access to information and registering for government schemes.


The work, though underway, is far from done. We are driving a 3-point strategy to truly digitize India:


  1. Invest in ML & AI efforts at Google’s research center in India, to make advances in machine learning and AI models accessible to everyone across the ecosystem.

  2. Partner with innovative local startups who are building solutions to cater to the needs of Indians in local languages

  3. Drastically improve the experience of Google products and services for Indian language users


And so today, we are happy to announce a range of features to help deliver an even richer language experience to millions across India.

Easily toggling between English and Indian language results

Four years ago we made it easier for people in states with a significant Hindi-speaking population to flip between English and Hindi results for a search query, by introducing a simple ‘chip’ or tab they could tap to see results in their preferred language. In fact, since the launch of this Hindi chip and other language features, we have seen more than a 10X increase in Hindi queries in India.

We are now making it easier to toggle Search results between English and four additional Indian languages: Tamil, Telugu, Bangla and Marathi.

People can now tap a chip to see Search results in their local language

Understanding which language content to surface, when

Typing in an Indian language in its native script is typically more difficult, and can often take three times as long, compared to English. As a result, many people search in English even if they really would prefer to see results in a local language they understand.

Search will show relevant results in more Indian languages

Over the next month, Search will start to show relevant content in supported Indian languages where appropriate, even if the local language query is typed in English. This functionality will also better serve bilingual people who are comfortable reading both English and an Indian language. It will roll out in five Indian languages: Hindi, Bangla, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu.

Enabling people to use apps in the language of their choice

Just like you use different tools for different tasks, we know (because we do it ourselves) people often select a specific language for a particular situation. Rather than guessing preferences, we launched the ability to easily change the language of Google Assistant and Discover to be different from the phone language. Today in India, more than 50 percent of the content viewed on Google Discover is in Indian languages. A third of Google Assistant users in India are using it in an Indian language, and since the launch of Assistant language picker, queries in Indian languages have doubled.

Maps will now able people to select up to nine Indian languages

We are now extending this ability to Google Maps, where users can quickly and easily change their Maps experience into one of nine Indian languages, by simply opening the app, going to Settings, and tapping ‘App language’. This will allow anyone to search for places, get directions and navigation, and interact with the Map in their preferred local language.

Homework help in Hindi (and English)

Meaning is also communicated with images: and this is where Google Lens can help. From street signs to restaurant menus, shop names to signboards, Google Lens lets you search what you see, get things done faster, and understand the world around you—using just your camera or a photo. In fact more people use Google Lens in India every month than in any other country worldwide. As an example of its popularity, over 3 billion words have been translated in India with Lens in 2020.

Lens is particularly helpful for students wanting to learn about the world. If you’re a parent, you’ll be familiar with your kids asking you questions about homework. About stuff you never thought you’d need to remember, like... quadratic equations.

Google Lens can now help you solve math problems by simply pointing your camera 

Now, right from the Search bar in the Google app, you can use Lens to snap a photo of a math problem and learn how to solve it on your own, in Hindi (or English). To do this, Lens first turns an image of a homework question into a query. Based on the query, we will show step-by-step guides and videos to help explain the problem.

Helping computer systems understand Indian languages at scale

At Google Research India, we have spent a lot of time helping computer systems understand human language. As you can imagine, this is quite an exciting challenge.The new approach we developed in India is called Multilingual Representations for Indian Languages (or ‘MuRIL’). Among many other benefits of this powerful multilingual model that scales across languages, MuRIL also provides support for transliterated text such as when writing Hindi using Roman script, which was something missing from previous models of its kind. 

One of the many tasks MuRIL is good at, is determining the sentiment of the sentence. For example, “Achha hua account bandh nahi hua” would previously be interpreted as having a negative meaning, but MuRIL correctly identifies this as a positive statement. Or take the ability to classify a person versus a place: ‘Shirdi ke sai baba’ would previously be interpreted as a place, which is wrong, but MuRIL correctly interprets it as a person.

MuRIL currently supports 16 Indian languages as well as English -- the highest coverage for Indian languages among any other publicly available model of its kind.

MuRIL is free & Open Source,

available on TensorFlow Hub

https://tfhub.dev/google/MuRIL/1



We are thrilled to announce that we have made MuRIL open source, and it is currently available to download from the TensorFlow Hub, for free. We hope MuRIL will be the next big evolution for Indian language understanding, forming a better foundation for researchers, students, startups, and anyone else interested in building Indian language technologies, and we can’t wait to see the many ways the ecosystem puts it to use.

We’re sharing this to provide a flavor of the depth of work underway -- and which is required -- to really make a universally potent and accessible Internet a reality. This said, the Internet in India is the sum of the work of millions of developers, content creators, news media and online businesses, and it is only when this effort is undertaken at scale by the entire ecosystem, that we will help fulfil the truly meaningful promise of the billionth Indian coming online.

Posted by the Google India team


How a group of young developers want to help us vote

Posted by Erica Hanson, Global Program Manager, Google Developer Student Clubs

Stevens Institute of Technology’s Google Developer Student Club. Names left to right: Tim Leonard, Will Escamilla, Rich Bilotti, Justin O'Boyle, Luke Mizus, and Rachael Kondra

The Google Developer Student Club at the Stevens Institute of Technology built their own website that makes local government data user friendly for voters in local districts. The goal: Take obscure budget and transportation information, display it via an easy-to-understand UI, and help voters become more easily informed.

When Tim Leonard first moved to Hoboken, New Jersey to start school at the Stevens Institute of Technology, he was interested in anything but government. A computer science major with a deep interest in startups, one was more likely to find him at a lecture on computational structures than on political science.

However, as the founder of the Google Developer Student Club (DSC) chapter at his university, Tim and his fellow classmates had the opportunity to make the trip into New York City to attend a developer community meetup with Ralph Yozzo, a community organizer from Google Developer Groups (GDG) NYC. While Ralph had given several talks on different technologies and programming techniques, this time he decided to try something new: Government budgets.

A slide from Ralph’s presentation

Titled “Why we should care about budgets,” Ralph’s talk to the young programmers focused on why tracking government spending in their community matters. He further explained how public budgets fund many parts of our lives - from getting to work, to taking care of our health, to going to a good school. However, Ralph informed them that while there are currently laws that attempt to make this data public, a platform that makes this information truly accessible didn’t exist. Instead, most of this information is tucked away in different corners of the internet; unorganized, and hard to understand.

Tim soon realized programming could be the solution and that his team had the chance to grow in a whole new way, outside of the traditional classroom setting. With Ralph’s encouragement, Tim and his team started thinking about how they could build a platform to collect all of this data, and provide a UI that’s easy for any user to interact with. By creating a well-organized website that could pull all of this local information, streamline it, and produce easy-to-understand graphics, the DSC Stevens team imagined they could have an impact on how voters inform themselves before casting their ballots at local elections.

“What if we had a technical approach to local government? Where our site would have actionable metrics that held us accountable for getting information out to the public.”

Tim thought if local voters could easily understand how their representatives were spending their community’s money, they could use it as a new framework to decide how to vote. The next step was to figure out the best way to get started.

An image from the demo site

The DSC Stevens team quickly agreed that their goal should be to build a website about their own city, Hoboken. They named it “Project Crystal” and started taking Google App Engine courses and conducting Node.js server run throughs. With the data they would eventually store and organize, they also dove into Google Cloud demos and workshops on Google Charts. They were determined to build something that would store public information in a different way.

“Bounce rates and click through metrics ensure we evaluate our site like a startup. Instead of selling a product, our platform would focus on getting people to interact with the data that shapes their everyday lives.”

After participating in different courses on how to use Google Cloud, Maps, and Charts, they finally put it all together and created the first version of their idea - an MVP site, built to drive user engagement, that would serve as their prototype.

A video explaining the Project Crystal website

Complete with easy-to-understand budget charts, contact information for different public officials, and maps to help users locate important services, the prototype site has been their first major step in turning complicated data into actionable voting information. Excited about their progress, Tim wants to eventually host the site on Google Cloud so his team can store more data and offer the platform to local governments across the country.

Image of the DSC Steven's team adding Google Charts to their demo site

The DSC Stevens team agrees, access to resources like Project Crystal could change how we vote. They hope with the right technical solutions around data, voters will be better informed, eager to ask more of their representatives, and more willing to participate in the day-to-day work of building their communities, together.

“Our advice to other student developers is to find outlets, like DSC, that enable you to think about helping others. For us, it was figuring out how to use our Google Cloud credits for good.”

Want to start a project of your own? If you’re a university student, join a Developer Student Club near you. If you’re a professional, find the right Google Developer Group for you.

Environmental Insights Explorer Expands: 100 Australian councils and counting

Environmental Insights Explorer 

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a crucial step in fighting the climate crisis. And cities now account for more than 70 percent of global emissions. But measuring exactly which activities—whether it’s buildings, cars, or public transport—are contributing to emissions, and by how much, is complex. Without this information, cities can neither understand the challenges they face, nor the impact of their environmental policies. 

This is the problem we’re working to solve with Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE), an online platform that provides building and transportation emissions, as well as solar potential analysis to make it easier for cities to measure progress against their climate action plans. Launched in 2018 for a handful of cities around the world including Melbourne, with Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide then added in 2019, EIE has helped councils accelerate GHG reduction efforts. Today, we’ve expanded EIE data access to thousands of cities worldwide, including 100+ Australian councils. 

To scale data access to local governments, policy makers and community groups, we’re also developing partnerships with leading Australian organisations, councils, and climate change experts. This includes a new partnership with Ironbark Sustainability and Beyond Zero Emissions to make EIE transportation data available for 100+ councils in Snapshot—a free tool that calculates major sources of carbon emissions, including stationary energy, transport, waste, agriculture, and land-use change. Snapshot allows municipalities to easily compare their sources of carbon emissions. This data integration will provide updated GHG profiles and enable local government policy decision-making for more than 86 percent of the country's population to put councils on a fast track for delivering commitments, building local resilience, and ensuring economic recovery. 
Accelerated city-wide analysis 
By analysing Google’s comprehensive global mapping data together with GHG emission factors, EIE estimates city-scale building and transportation carbon emissions data with the ability to drill down into more specific data such as vehicle-kilometres travelled by mode (automobiles, public transit, biking, etc.) and the percentage of emissions generated by residential or non-residential buildings. 
The insights that EIE provides have traditionally required many months of research, and a lot of resources for cities undertaking a climate action plan. Using Google’s proprietary data coupled with machine learning capabilities, we can produce a complete survey of a city that can be assessed very quickly. In this way, EIE allows cities to leapfrog tedious and costly data collection and analysis. 
EIE transport data now available in Snapshot for 100+ councils 

The next chapter 
Over the next few months, we’ll be working together to help Australian councils learn more about data insights from EIE and expand data coverage to more councils. We hope that by making EIE data accessible to more councils across Australia, we’ll help nurture an ecosystem that can bring climate action plans to life. 


Environmental Insights Explorer Expands: 100 Australian councils and counting

Environmental Insights Explorer 

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a crucial step in fighting the climate crisis. And cities now account for more than 70 percent of global emissions. But measuring exactly which activities—whether it’s buildings, cars, or public transport—are contributing to emissions, and by how much, is complex. Without this information, cities can neither understand the challenges they face, nor the impact of their environmental policies. 

This is the problem we’re working to solve with Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE), an online platform that provides building and transportation emissions, as well as solar potential analysis to make it easier for cities to measure progress against their climate action plans. Launched in 2018 for a handful of cities around the world including Melbourne, with Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide then added in 2019, EIE has helped councils accelerate GHG reduction efforts. Today, we’ve expanded EIE data access to thousands of cities worldwide, including 100+ Australian councils. 

To scale data access to local governments, policy makers and community groups, we’re also developing partnerships with leading Australian organisations, councils, and climate change experts. This includes a new partnership with Ironbark Sustainability and Beyond Zero Emissions to make EIE transportation data available for 100+ councils in Snapshot—a free tool that calculates major sources of carbon emissions, including stationary energy, transport, waste, agriculture, and land-use change. Snapshot allows municipalities to easily compare their sources of carbon emissions. This data integration will provide updated GHG profiles and enable local government policy decision-making for more than 86 percent of the country's population to put councils on a fast track for delivering commitments, building local resilience, and ensuring economic recovery. 
Accelerated city-wide analysis 
By analysing Google’s comprehensive global mapping data together with GHG emission factors, EIE estimates city-scale building and transportation carbon emissions data with the ability to drill down into more specific data such as vehicle-kilometres travelled by mode (automobiles, public transit, biking, etc.) and the percentage of emissions generated by residential or non-residential buildings. 
The insights that EIE provides have traditionally required many months of research, and a lot of resources for cities undertaking a climate action plan. Using Google’s proprietary data coupled with machine learning capabilities, we can produce a complete survey of a city that can be assessed very quickly. In this way, EIE allows cities to leapfrog tedious and costly data collection and analysis. 
EIE transport data now available in Snapshot for 100+ councils 

The next chapter 
Over the next few months, we’ll be working together to help Australian councils learn more about data insights from EIE and expand data coverage to more councils. We hope that by making EIE data accessible to more councils across Australia, we’ll help nurture an ecosystem that can bring climate action plans to life. 


Helping the Haitian economy, one line of code at a time

Posted by Jennifer Kohl, Program Manager, Developer Community Programs

Picture

Eustache Luckens Yadley at a GDG Port-au-Prince meetup

Meet Eustache Luckens Yadley, or “Yadley” for short. As a web developer from Port-au-Prince, Yadley has spent his career building web applications that benefit the local Haitian economy. Whether it’s ecommerce platforms that bring local sellers to market or software tools that help local businesses operate more effectively, Yadley has always been there with a technical hand to lend.

However, Yadley has also spent his career watching Haiti’s unemployment numbers rise to among the highest in the Caribbean. As he describes it,


“Every day, several thousand young people have no job to get by.”


So with code in mind and mouse in hand, Yadley got right to work. His first step was to identify a need in the economy. He soon figured out that Haiti had a shortage of delivery methods for consumers, making home delivery purchases of any kind extremely unreliable. With this observation, Yadley also noticed that there was a surplus of workers willing to deliver the goods, but no infrastructure to align their needs with that of the market’s.

picture

Yadley watching a demo at a GDG Port-au-Prince meetup

In this moment, Yadley did what many good developers would do: build an app. He created the framework for what is now called “Livrezonpam,” an application that allows companies to post where and when they need a particular product delivered and workers to find the corresponding delivery jobs closest to them.

With a brilliant solution, Yadley’s last step was to find the right technical tools to build the concept out and make it a viable platform that users could work with to their benefit.

It was at this crucial step when Yadley found the Port-au-Prince Google Developer Group. With GDG Port-au-Prince, Yadley was able to bring his young app right into the developer community, run different demos of his product to experienced users, and get feedback from a wide array of developers with an intimate knowledge of the Haitian tech scene. The takeaways from working in the community translated directly to his work. Yadley learned how to build with the Google Cloud Platform Essentials, which proved key in managing all the data his app now collects. He also learned how to get the Google Maps Platform API working for his app, creating a streamlined user experience that helped workers and companies in Haiti locate one another with precision and ease.

picture

This wide array of community technical resources, from trainings, to mentors, to helpful friends, allowed Yadley to grow his knowledge of several Google technologies, which in turn allowed him to grow his app for the Haitian community.

Today, Yadley is still an active member of the GDG community, growing his skills and those of the many friends around him. And at the same time, he is still growing Librezonpam on the Google Play App Store to help local businesses reach their customers and bring more jobs directly to the people of Haiti.


Ready to start building with a Google Developer Group near you? Find the closest community to you, here.

Our commitment to India during COVID-19 and beyond

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the health and lives of many across the country, requiring all of us to make fundamental changes to the way we live. State and public health officials across the country are doing their best to manage this unprecedented situation. At the same time, we have been inspired by how the country has come together to support the valiant efforts of healthcare workers, with businesses stepping up to provide vital resources and support, and NGOs rallying to support vulnerable communities whose livelihoods are impacted. 


Overcoming a crisis of this scale will take sustained and concerted effort, and we want to do everything we can to help. Since the virus first began to spread, our focus at Google has been on making sure people have the information and tools they need to stay informed and connected. But we know there’s much more work ahead. 


Today, we’re sharing an update on the actions that Google has taken in India to help bring authoritative and reliable information to people, and provide features across its products that can be helpful during these trying times.


Promoting authoritative and reliable information sources 

It is crucial that people have access to health information they can trust online, so they can make the right decisions to protect themselves, and those around them, from COVID-19.  We have upped our work to curb misinformation across various platforms and prominently surface the latest updates and health advice from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and international health authorities across Search, Maps, YouTube and the COVID-19 Spot on Google Pay.

Caption: (Left) On Search, queries for Coronavirus now display consolidated results, with tabs for quick access to information on symptoms, prevention, and more 

On Search, when a person launches a query for Coronavirus they will see a page with consolidated information including the top news stories, links to MoHFW resources, as well as access to authoritative content on symptoms, prevention, treatments and more. In line with government directives, when people search for medical facilities like hospitals, doctors or testing centers, we surface authoritative guidelines from the MoHFW on reaching out to central and state COVID-19 helplines that are equipped to assist with next steps.

Across YouTube’s homepage, search, and recommendation systems, we are elevating authoritative information sources such as the MoHFW and WHO, driving users directly to these websites for trustworthy and reliable information.  YouTube has also launched a Coronavirus News Shelf on the YouTube Homepage, which provides the latest news from authoritative media outlets regarding the outbreak. 


All searches and videos on YouTube related to COVID-19 trigger Information and health panels that provide additional information on the topic, linking to the MoHFW website and the global WHO website. 


                 
Caption: Information Panel (Left) and Health Panel (Right) on YouTube


In addition to elevating authoritative sources, we are also quickly removing reported videos that violate YouTube’s community guidelines, including those that discourage people from seeking medical treatment or encourage the use of unsubstantiated remedies to treat COVID-19.

Bringing helpful features to Google’s product and services

Our product teams continue to build features that enable people to find helpful resources such as instructions for preventing the spread of COVID-19, the latest statistics on the proliferation of the virus, and local helpline numbers.


The COVID-19 India website  that was launched last week collates all of this updated information, as well as live statistics, into a single, easy-to-access resource. It is available in English, Hindi and Marathi for smartphones, and in English and Hindi via Google Assistant for KaiOS feature phones. It will be rolled out soon in several other Indian languages.




Caption: (Left) The India COVID-19 page, available in Hindi, English, and Marathi, and (Right) on KaiOS in Hindi and English via Google Assistant


Public service campaign: In order to ensure that the safety and prevention best practices are disseminated widely, we have collaborated with the MoHFW to run a public service campaign titled ‘Do the Five’, and prominently surface and promote assets from MoHFW which includes educational video content featuring Amitabh Bachchan, across YouTube, Search and Google Assistant. The campaign has reached hundreds of millions people seeking this information and continues to reach millions more every day. 


Building solutions for crisis response


With the pandemic causing disruption to scores of people, we are working to support those whose livelihoods and access to basic sustenance are at risk -- especially the millions of migrant workers returning to their hometowns, or stranded in the cities without a source of income or food. 


We have started indicating the locations of hundreds of food and night shelters set up by the government across the country, accessible through Google Maps, Search, and Google Assistant. To date, this includes more than 33 cities with over 1,500 food and night shelters identified. Users can query in both English and Hindi, and efforts are on to bring this to other Indian languages over the coming weeks, as well as adding additional shelters in more cities across the country.


The information can also be accessed via Google Assistant on KaiOS in both Hindi and English. Simply ask ‘ में भोजन केंद्र’ and ‘ में रैन बसेरा’, or ‘Food shelters in ’ and ‘Night shelters in ’. Vodafone-Idea subscribers can also use the Phone Line offering that enables 2G feature phone users to get details of nearby food and night shelters by dialing the toll-free number 000 800 9191 000, and using the queries above.
Caption: (Left) Night Shelters and (Right) Night Food Shelters are now available on Google Maps, in English and Hindi

To help public health officials in their decision-making, we have published COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports that capture the percentage change in traffic and movement across public places such as parks, transit stations and grocery stores. These reports are based on the same aggregated, anonymized insights that are used in products such as Google Maps.


Contributing to crisis response and upholding our responsibility

We are committed to supporting governments, local health agencies, and not-for-profit developers offering publicly-available crisis response apps and sites in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have introduced Ads grants, Google Maps Platform Crisis Response credits and are offering our support for the APIs and SDKs that are most commonly used for crisis response implementations.
Caption: Live donations counter for PM-CARES (Left) and Nearby Spot (Right) on Google Pay

With the lockdown and social distancing norms in place, digital payments have become more important than ever and Google Pay is an additional surface to provide key information regarding COVID-19. We’ve launched the COVID-19 Spot on Google Pay that aggregates all pertinent information on the topic, sourced directly from the MoHFW. The Spot also helps users donate to PM-CARES or to NGOs such as SEEDS, Give India, United Way and Charities Aid Foundation, which are working towards procurement of protective equipment for medical workers and relief for lockdown-impacted daily wagers. Donations to PM-CARES on Google Pay have thus far collected over ₹105 crores and continue to grow.

Additionally on Google Pay, Nearby Spot has been introduced to help users see local stores providing essentials like groceries, which are currently open. We think this information will help users to contact the appropriate business, pay digitally and aid social distancing efforts. The Nearby Spot has been rolled out in Bengaluru and will be launching in Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi soon.  

COVID-19 puts intense demands on us all, and we’re determined to uphold our responsibility in this unprecedented time: to enable access to trusted information and be ready to stand with India and do all we can to help as we overcome Coronavirus pandemic, and shape a stronger future.

Posted by Sanjay Gupta, Vice President and Country Manager, Google India and Caesar Sengupta, Vice President, Payments and Next Billion Users 

Our commitment to India during COVID-19 and beyond

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the health and lives of many across the country, requiring all of us to make fundamental changes to the way we live. State and public health officials across the country are doing their best to manage this unprecedented situation. At the same time, we have been inspired by how the country has come together to support the valiant efforts of healthcare workers, with businesses stepping up to provide vital resources and support, and NGOs rallying to support vulnerable communities whose livelihoods are impacted. 


Overcoming a crisis of this scale will take sustained and concerted effort, and we want to do everything we can to help. Since the virus first began to spread, our focus at Google has been on making sure people have the information and tools they need to stay informed and connected. But we know there’s much more work ahead. 


Today, we’re sharing an update on the actions that Google has taken in India to help bring authoritative and reliable information to people, and provide features across its products that can be helpful during these trying times.


Promoting authoritative and reliable information sources 

It is crucial that people have access to health information they can trust online, so they can make the right decisions to protect themselves, and those around them, from COVID-19.  We have upped our work to curb misinformation across various platforms and prominently surface the latest updates and health advice from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and international health authorities across Search, Maps, YouTube and the COVID-19 Spot on Google Pay.

Caption: (Left) On Search, queries for Coronavirus now display consolidated results, with tabs for quick access to information on symptoms, prevention, and more 

On Search, when a person launches a query for Coronavirus they will see a page with consolidated information including the top news stories, links to MoHFW resources, as well as access to authoritative content on symptoms, prevention, treatments and more. In line with government directives, when people search for medical facilities like hospitals, doctors or testing centers, we surface authoritative guidelines from the MoHFW on reaching out to central and state COVID-19 helplines that are equipped to assist with next steps.

Across YouTube’s homepage, search, and recommendation systems, we are elevating authoritative information sources such as the MoHFW and WHO, driving users directly to these websites for trustworthy and reliable information.  YouTube has also launched a Coronavirus News Shelf on the YouTube Homepage, which provides the latest news from authoritative media outlets regarding the outbreak. 


All searches and videos on YouTube related to COVID-19 trigger Information and health panels that provide additional information on the topic, linking to the MoHFW website and the global WHO website. 


                 
Caption: Information Panel (Left) and Health Panel (Right) on YouTube


In addition to elevating authoritative sources, we are also quickly removing reported videos that violate YouTube’s community guidelines, including those that discourage people from seeking medical treatment or encourage the use of unsubstantiated remedies to treat COVID-19.

Bringing helpful features to Google’s product and services

Our product teams continue to build features that enable people to find helpful resources such as instructions for preventing the spread of COVID-19, the latest statistics on the proliferation of the virus, and local helpline numbers.


The COVID-19 India website  that was launched last week collates all of this updated information, as well as live statistics, into a single, easy-to-access resource. It is available in English, Hindi and Marathi for smartphones, and in English and Hindi via Google Assistant for KaiOS feature phones. It will be rolled out soon in several other Indian languages.




Caption: (Left) The India COVID-19 page, available in Hindi, English, and Marathi, and (Right) on KaiOS in Hindi and English via Google Assistant


Public service campaign: In order to ensure that the safety and prevention best practices are disseminated widely, we have collaborated with the MoHFW to run a public service campaign titled ‘Do the Five’, and prominently surface and promote assets from MoHFW which includes educational video content featuring Amitabh Bachchan, across YouTube, Search and Google Assistant. The campaign has reached hundreds of millions people seeking this information and continues to reach millions more every day. 


Building solutions for crisis response


With the pandemic causing disruption to scores of people, we are working to support those whose livelihoods and access to basic sustenance are at risk -- especially the millions of migrant workers returning to their hometowns, or stranded in the cities without a source of income or food. 


We have started indicating the locations of hundreds of food and night shelters set up by the government across the country, accessible through Google Maps, Search, and Google Assistant. To date, this includes more than 33 cities with over 1,500 food and night shelters identified. Users can query in both English and Hindi, and efforts are on to bring this to other Indian languages over the coming weeks, as well as adding additional shelters in more cities across the country.


The information can also be accessed via Google Assistant on KaiOS in both Hindi and English. Simply ask ‘ में भोजन केंद्र’ and ‘ में रैन बसेरा’, or ‘Food shelters in ’ and ‘Night shelters in ’. Vodafone-Idea subscribers can also use the Phone Line offering that enables 2G feature phone users to get details of nearby food and night shelters by dialing the toll-free number 000 800 9191 000, and using the queries above.
Caption: (Left) Night Shelters and (Right) Night Food Shelters are now available on Google Maps, in English and Hindi

To help public health officials in their decision-making, we have published COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports that capture the percentage change in traffic and movement across public places such as parks, transit stations and grocery stores. These reports are based on the same aggregated, anonymized insights that are used in products such as Google Maps.


Contributing to crisis response and upholding our responsibility

We are committed to supporting governments, local health agencies, and not-for-profit developers offering publicly-available crisis response apps and sites in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have introduced Ads grants, Google Maps Platform Crisis Response credits and are offering our support for the APIs and SDKs that are most commonly used for crisis response implementations.
Caption: Live donations counter for PM-CARES (Left) and Nearby Spot (Right) on Google Pay

With the lockdown and social distancing norms in place, digital payments have become more important than ever and Google Pay is an additional surface to provide key information regarding COVID-19. We’ve launched the COVID-19 Spot on Google Pay that aggregates all pertinent information on the topic, sourced directly from the MoHFW. The Spot also helps users donate to PM-CARES or to NGOs such as SEEDS, Give India, United Way and Charities Aid Foundation, which are working towards procurement of protective equipment for medical workers and relief for lockdown-impacted daily wagers. Donations to PM-CARES on Google Pay have thus far collected over ₹105 crores and continue to grow.

Additionally on Google Pay, Nearby Spot has been introduced to help users see local stores providing essentials like groceries, which are currently open. We think this information will help users to contact the appropriate business, pay digitally and aid social distancing efforts. The Nearby Spot has been rolled out in Bengaluru and will be launching in Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi soon.  

COVID-19 puts intense demands on us all, and we’re determined to uphold our responsibility in this unprecedented time: to enable access to trusted information and be ready to stand with India and do all we can to help as we overcome Coronavirus pandemic, and shape a stronger future.

Posted by Sanjay Gupta, Vice President and Country Manager, Google India and Caesar Sengupta, Vice President, Payments and Next Billion Users 

Our commitment to India during COVID-19 and beyond

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the health and lives of many across the country, requiring all of us to make fundamental changes to the way we live. State and public health officials across the country are doing their best to manage this unprecedented situation. At the same time, we have been inspired by how the country has come together to support the valiant efforts of healthcare workers, with businesses stepping up to provide vital resources and support, and NGOs rallying to support vulnerable communities whose livelihoods are impacted. 


Overcoming a crisis of this scale will take sustained and concerted effort, and we want to do everything we can to help. Since the virus first began to spread, our focus at Google has been on making sure people have the information and tools they need to stay informed and connected. But we know there’s much more work ahead. 


Today, we’re sharing an update on the actions that Google has taken in India to help bring authoritative and reliable information to people, and provide features across its products that can be helpful during these trying times.


Promoting authoritative and reliable information sources 

It is crucial that people have access to health information they can trust online, so they can make the right decisions to protect themselves, and those around them, from COVID-19.  We have upped our work to curb misinformation across various platforms and prominently surface the latest updates and health advice from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and international health authorities across Search, Maps, YouTube and the COVID-19 Spot on Google Pay.

Caption: (Left) On Search, queries for Coronavirus now display consolidated results, with tabs for quick access to information on symptoms, prevention, and more 

On Search, when a person launches a query for Coronavirus they will see a page with consolidated information including the top news stories, links to MoHFW resources, as well as access to authoritative content on symptoms, prevention, treatments and more. In line with government directives, when people search for medical facilities like hospitals, doctors or testing centers, we surface authoritative guidelines from the MoHFW on reaching out to central and state COVID-19 helplines that are equipped to assist with next steps.

Across YouTube’s homepage, search, and recommendation systems, we are elevating authoritative information sources such as the MoHFW and WHO, driving users directly to these websites for trustworthy and reliable information.  YouTube has also launched a Coronavirus News Shelf on the YouTube Homepage, which provides the latest news from authoritative media outlets regarding the outbreak. 


All searches and videos on YouTube related to COVID-19 trigger Information and health panels that provide additional information on the topic, linking to the MoHFW website and the global WHO website. 


                 
Caption: Information Panel (Left) and Health Panel (Right) on YouTube


In addition to elevating authoritative sources, we are also quickly removing reported videos that violate YouTube’s community guidelines, including those that discourage people from seeking medical treatment or encourage the use of unsubstantiated remedies to treat COVID-19.

Bringing helpful features to Google’s product and services

Our product teams continue to build features that enable people to find helpful resources such as instructions for preventing the spread of COVID-19, the latest statistics on the proliferation of the virus, and local helpline numbers.


The COVID-19 India website  that was launched last week collates all of this updated information, as well as live statistics, into a single, easy-to-access resource. It is available in English, Hindi and Marathi for smartphones, and in English and Hindi via Google Assistant for KaiOS feature phones. It will be rolled out soon in several other Indian languages.




Caption: (Left) The India COVID-19 page, available in Hindi, English, and Marathi, and (Right) on KaiOS in Hindi and English via Google Assistant


Public service campaign: In order to ensure that the safety and prevention best practices are disseminated widely, we have collaborated with the MoHFW to run a public service campaign titled ‘Do the Five’, and prominently surface and promote assets from MoHFW which includes educational video content featuring Amitabh Bachchan, across YouTube, Search and Google Assistant. The campaign has reached hundreds of millions people seeking this information and continues to reach millions more every day. 


Building solutions for crisis response


With the pandemic causing disruption to scores of people, we are working to support those whose livelihoods and access to basic sustenance are at risk -- especially the millions of migrant workers returning to their hometowns, or stranded in the cities without a source of income or food. 


We have started indicating the locations of hundreds of food and night shelters set up by the government across the country, accessible through Google Maps, Search, and Google Assistant. To date, this includes more than 33 cities with over 1,500 food and night shelters identified. Users can query in both English and Hindi, and efforts are on to bring this to other Indian languages over the coming weeks, as well as adding additional shelters in more cities across the country.


The information can also be accessed via Google Assistant on KaiOS in both Hindi and English. Simply ask ‘ में भोजन केंद्र’ and ‘ में रैन बसेरा’, or ‘Food shelters in ’ and ‘Night shelters in ’. Vodafone-Idea subscribers can also use the Phone Line offering that enables 2G feature phone users to get details of nearby food and night shelters by dialing the toll-free number 000 800 9191 000, and using the queries above.
Caption: (Left) Night Shelters and (Right) Night Food Shelters are now available on Google Maps, in English and Hindi

To help public health officials in their decision-making, we have published COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports that capture the percentage change in traffic and movement across public places such as parks, transit stations and grocery stores. These reports are based on the same aggregated, anonymized insights that are used in products such as Google Maps.


Contributing to crisis response and upholding our responsibility

We are committed to supporting governments, local health agencies, and not-for-profit developers offering publicly-available crisis response apps and sites in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have introduced Ads grants, Google Maps Platform Crisis Response credits and are offering our support for the APIs and SDKs that are most commonly used for crisis response implementations.
Caption: Live donations counter for PM-CARES (Left) and Nearby Spot (Right) on Google Pay

With the lockdown and social distancing norms in place, digital payments have become more important than ever and Google Pay is an additional surface to provide key information regarding COVID-19. We’ve launched the COVID-19 Spot on Google Pay that aggregates all pertinent information on the topic, sourced directly from the MoHFW. The Spot also helps users donate to PM-CARES or to NGOs such as SEEDS, Give India, United Way and Charities Aid Foundation, which are working towards procurement of protective equipment for medical workers and relief for lockdown-impacted daily wagers. Donations to PM-CARES on Google Pay have thus far collected over ₹105 crores and continue to grow.

Additionally on Google Pay, Nearby Spot has been introduced to help users see local stores providing essentials like groceries, which are currently open. We think this information will help users to contact the appropriate business, pay digitally and aid social distancing efforts. The Nearby Spot has been rolled out in Bengaluru and will be launching in Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi soon.  

COVID-19 puts intense demands on us all, and we’re determined to uphold our responsibility in this unprecedented time: to enable access to trusted information and be ready to stand with India and do all we can to help as we overcome Coronavirus pandemic, and shape a stronger future.

Posted by Sanjay Gupta, Vice President and Country Manager, Google India and Caesar Sengupta, Vice President, Payments and Next Billion Users 

Charting the next 15 years of Google Maps



It’s easy to take for granted how much information about the world is now available at our fingertips. But it wasn’t long ago that traveling to a new place meant fumbling through sheets of turn-by-turn instructions while trying to keep one hand on the steering wheel, with no way to anticipate how bad traffic would be or find a restaurant along the way. It was around that time, 15 years ago, that Google Maps set out on an audacious goal to map the world. 


I remember seeing early versions of Google Maps and being amazed at how easily you could scroll, zoom and search the world. One of my earliest memories of working on Google Maps was as a member of our user experience team, which designs and improves the usability of our products. In a world before smartphones, one of the biggest questions that we agonized over was where to put the Print button on the page so that people could easily take their directions on the go. 


Needless to say, a lot has changed. Google Maps has mapped more than 220 countries, surfaced information for about 200 million places and businesses, and helped billions of people get from point A to point B with confidence. In the beginning, we focused on answering the question: “How do I get from here to there?” Over time, our mission has expanded from helping you navigate to also helping you discover the best places to go and things to do once you’re there. As we celebrate our birthday this week, we’re reflecting on how the definition of what a map can do has broadened, and how machine learning will propel us forward from here. 


Navigating the world: From simple directions to Live View 


Fifteen years ago, printing out directions was considered state-of-the-art. So the idea of getting turn-by-turn driving navigation from your phone while on the road seemed revolutionary. In 2009, Google Maps pioneered turn-by-turn mobile navigation, and we’ve since added directions and navigation for walking, transit, bicycles, two-wheelers, and more--all with the goal of helping you with every trip across every mode of transportation. Since people increasingly use a mix of transportation options in a single trip--like walking to the train station and then taking a rideshare to their final stop--one of our next challenges involves stitching together these navigation options and ETAs for a more seamless experience.


Directions alone aren’t enough. We’re also helping you get there faster and more comfortably by arming you with relevant real-time information like live traffic alerts, predictions for how crowded your bus will be and which bike-sharing locations have available bikes. And we’ve used technology like augmented reality (AR) to help bring the map to life in helpful ways. Last year we introduced Live View, which uses AR, AI and your smartphone camera to show you your surroundings with the directions overlaid. It solves the real pain point of walking halfway down the block toward a place only to realize you’re going the wrong way (I’ve definitely been there!).


Exploring the world once you get there


We’ve always fundamentally believed that a map is much more than masses of land and sea, that a city is more than a web of streets. After all, the things that make my hometown shine are the brunch spot with my favorite veggie scramble, the pet salon that keeps my dog happy while he gets a trim, and the pizza spot with the foosball table that keeps my kids entertained while we wait. A truly helpful map reflects all of those local insights and helps you find places and experiences that are right for you—so that’s been a big focus for us over the last few years. 


Until recently, if you were looking to grab a slice of pizza, you’d get a list of 20 nearby pizza joints. (And way before that, you’d have to search in advance on a desktop to get the list, or if you were already out of the house you had to roam streets seeking the smell of melted cheese!) Now, we can help you find all of the pizza spots nearby, when they're open, how crowded they’ll be, and which one has the best toppings. Once you’ve decided where to go, you can easily make a reservation or call the restaurant. 


Doing this well at scale requires a deep understanding of businesses and places—which is where our active community of users comes in. Every day, people contribute more than 20 million pieces of content to Google, like photos, reviews and ratings. These contributions continually make our map richer and more helpful for everyone. They also power features like popular dishes at restaurants, up-to-date road closures and wheelchair accessible routes. We’re also making it easy for you to get things done at these places within Google Maps—so you can go from finding a yoga studio to booking a class. 


The technology propelling the future of Maps


The world is always changing—new roads are added, bus routes are changed and natural disasters alter accessible routes. That’s why a map needs to be updated, comprehensive and accurate. Major breakthroughs in AI have transformed our approach to mapmaking, helping us bring high-quality maps and local information to more parts of the world faster. 


For instance, we worked with our data operations team to manually trace common building outlines, then trained our machine learning models to recognize building edges and shapes. Thanks to this technique, we’ve mapped as many buildings in the last year as we did in the previous 10. Elsewhere, machine learning helps us recognize handwritten building numbers that would be hard even for a passerby in a car to see. This is especially important when mapping areas where formal street signs and house numbers are uncommon. In Lagos, Nigeria alone, machine learning has helped us add 20,000 street names, 50,000 addresses, and 100,000 new businesses—lighting up the map with local places and businesses where there once was little detailed information. 


The map of the next 15 years 


As we celebrate our birthday and look ahead to the next 15 years, we’re rolling out a few new updates, including a refreshed look for the app and more information about your transit rides. And we’ve updated our Google Maps icon to reflect our journey.


When we set out to map the world, we knew it would be a challenge. But 15 years in, I’m still in awe of what a gargantuan task it is. It requires building and curating an understanding of everything there is to know about the physical world, and then bringing that information to people in a way that helps you navigate, explore and get things done in your world. The real world is infinitely detailed and always changing, so our work of reflecting it back to you is never done. 

Posted by Jen Fitzpatrick, Senior Vice President, Google Maps

Google Maps is turning 15! Celebrate with a new look and features



In 2005, we set out to map the world. Since then we’ve pushed the limits of what a map can do: from helping you easily navigate from point A to B, to helping you explore and get things done in the world. With more than 1 billion people turning to Google Maps to see and explore the world, we're celebrating our 15th birthday with a new look and product updates based on feedback from you.


A fresh look from the inside out
Starting today, you'll see an updated Google Maps app for Android and iOS that gives you everything you need at your fingertips with five easy-to-access tabs: Explore, Commute, Saved, Contribute and Updates.
  • Explore: Looking for a place nearby to grab lunch, enjoy live music or play arcade games? In the Explore tab, you’ll find information, ratings, reviews and more for about 200 million places around the world, including local restaurants, nearby attractions and city landmarks. 
  • Commute: Whether you’re traveling by car or public transit, the Commute tab is there to make sure you’re on the most efficient route. Set up your daily commute to get real-time traffic updates, travel times and suggestions for alternative routes.
  • Saved: People have saved more than 6.5 billion places on Google Maps—from the new bakery across town to the famous restaurant on your upcoming vacation. Now you can view all of these spots in one convenient place, as well as find and organize plans for an upcoming trip and share recommendations based on places you've been.
  • Contribute: Hundreds of millions of people each year contribute information that helps keep Google Maps up to date. With the new Contribute tab, you can easily share local knowledge, such as details about roads and addresses, missing places, business reviews and photos. Each contribution goes a long way in helping others learn about new places and decide what to do.
  • Updates: The new Updates tab provides you with a feed of trending, must-see spots from local experts and publishers, like The Infatuation. In addition to discovering, saving and sharing recommendations with your network, you can also directly chat with businesses to get questions answered.


Our five tabs provide easier access to everything you need in Google Maps.


We’re also updating our look with a new Google Maps icon that reflects the evolution we’ve made mapping the world. It’s based on a key part of Google Maps since the very beginning—the pin— and represents the shift we’ve made from getting you to your destination to also helping you discover new places and experiences.


And because we can’t resist a good birthday celebration, keep an eye out for our celebratory party-themed car icon, available for a limited time when you navigate with Google Maps.

Look out for our new icon on your phone and browser.


Made for you, on the go
We’re constantly evolving to help you get around—no matter how you choose to travel. Our new transit features in the Google Maps app help you stay informed when you’re taking public transportation.


Last year, we introduced crowdedness predictions to help you see how crowded your bus, train or subway is likely to be based on past rides. To help you plan your travels, we’re adding new insights about your route from past riders, so you’ll be able to see important details, such as: 
  • Temperature: For a more comfortable ride, check in advance if the temperature is considered by past riders as on the colder or warmer side.
  • Accessibility: If you have special needs or require additional support, you can identify public transit lines with staffed assistance, accessible entrance and seating, accessible stop-button or hi-visible LED.
  • Women’s Section: In regions where transit systems have designated women's sections or carriages, we'll help surface this information along with whether other passengers abide by it.
  • Security Onboard: Feel safer knowing if security monitoring is on board—whether that’s with a security guard present, installed security cameras or an available helpline.
  • Number of carriages available: In Japan only, you can pick a route based on the number of carriages so that it increases your chances of getting a seat.


    These useful bits of information come from past riders who've shared their experiences and will appear alongside public transit routes when available. To help future riders, you can answer a short survey within Google Maps about your experience on recent trips. We’ll start rolling this out globally in March, with availability varying by region and municipal transportation agency.

    New trip attributes help you make informed decisions about your travel plans.


    A sense of direction
    Last year, we introduced Live View to help you quickly decide which way to go when you start a walking route with Google Maps. By combining Street View’s real-world imagery, machine learning and smartphone sensors, Live View in Google Maps shows you your surroundings with the directions overlaid in augmented reality. 


    Over the coming months, we’ll be expanding Live View and testing new capabilities, starting with better assistance whenever you’re searching for a place. You’ll be able to quickly see how far away and in which direction a place is.


    Live View will soon help you get oriented in the right direction in new ways.


    A big thank you to everyone for placing your trust in us and for being with us on this wild ride over the last 15 years. See you out there on the journey!

    Posted by Dane Glasgow, Vice President of Product, Google Maps