Tag Archives: #GoogleCanada

Supporting local communities for Pride 2020

In August 1966, trans women, drag queens, and other members of the LGBTQ+ community fought for their rights and fair treatment outside Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood. Three years later on June 28, 1969, the LGBTQ+ community, once again, rose up against inequitable treatment and police misconduct at the Stonewall Inn. For both of these historic moments, LGBTQ+ people of colour—and in particular Black trans women and trans women of colour—helped lead the fight against hate and injustice. In many respects, the modern day LGBTQ+ movement for equality was born from these rebellious acts and the many events preceding them.

Pride should still be a protest. For those within the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ community—especially Black+ trans women—the injustices we're seeing today are a reminder of past and present struggles for equity, justice, and equality under the law. We believe communities must show up for one another, and we stand in solidarity with the Black+ community across the world, honoring the longstanding Pride tradition of unity.

This year for Pride, we’re focusing on helping local organizations in our community that are creating change for LGBTQ+ people of colour, trans and non-binary communities, LGBTQ+ families, and many more.

Supporting local organizations

Local LGBTQ+ organizations are providing critical services for those in need, whether they're helping someone find a bed in a shelter, offering skills and training services, or advocating for more inclusive and equitable policies. Lives depend on these organizations.

One of these organizations is Pride Toronto. Founded in 1981, Pride Toronto has a legacy of purposeful activism for eqality and sharing the diverse stories and perspectives of the LGBTQ+ community. This year, we’re proud to be a Gold sponsor for Pride Toronto and support their work to bring the annual pride celebrations online. The diverse programming has everything from trivia, workouts with olympians, club nights, and an online Pride parade on June 28.

Digital skills training for local businesses

To support LGBTQ+ small businesses and professionals, we’re partnering with Venture Out and Tech Proud on Digital Skills Pride Week from June 22 - 26. In collaboration with other tech companies, we’ll host sessions for small businesses around maintaining productivity, best practices for remote working, creating a website, and building an online presence. Businesses can learn more and register here.

Together, virtually

This year, Pride will feel different for many of us. We’re finding ways to bring people together virtually, including a toolkit that helps organizations host remote Pride events.

We’ve also launched a collection of videos on our YouTube Canada channel to elevate LGBTQ+ voices and share historic Canadian civil rights moments. Dive into interviews from The Queer Network, and listen to personal stories from a collection of Canadian creators, including Julie Vu, GigiGorgeous and AsapSCIENCE.

While Pride is usually marked by jubilant marches and beautiful parade floats, it’s much more than that. For us, Pride is about the ongoing struggle for equity, visibility, and acceptance. We’ll be spending Pride as allies to our the Black+ community members, reflecting on the many LGBTQ+ people of colour who started our liberation movement decades ago, and finding ways to remedy systemic injustices.

Supporting Educators as they teach from home

Editor’s note: This guest post is authored by Michelle Armstrong, Director of EdTechTeam Canada.

“Post your questions in the Chat. We’re here to help.” This is a phrase we’ve gotten used to saying several times a day as our team supports teachers across the country through virtual learning.

A few months ago, schools, universities and colleges across Canada closed down because of concerns over the transmission of COVID-19. The entire Canadian education system had to quickly address the logistical challenges brought about by not being together in a physical classroom. Our facilitators at EdTechTeam Canada geared up immediately, and worked with Google to help parents, teachers and students make the most out of the digital resources available to them.

Since then, we’ve had the opportunity to connect with teachers from all across the country through our live virtual training sessions. With significant funding from our friends at Google Canada, these interactive workshops cover the basics around fundamental learning tools including Google Classroom, Google Meet, Docs and student engagement. By offering up to ten sessions a day along with personal follow-ups, we’ve now hosted hundreds of live workshops and impacted tens of thousands of educators across the country, representing over 350 Divisions, Districts and School Boards. We’ve always prided ourselves in delivering engaging, interactive Professional Development. Thankfully we are still able to achieve that, we just happen to be joining face-to-face from our own living rooms.

Through these interactive discussions with educators, we've seen incredible resilience and tenacity, and a desire to accommodate the needs of learners during this unprecedented time. Here are a few of our key takeaways for educators to consider when it comes to virtual learning.

Learn now, thrive long-term

While some may be scrambling now, being thrust into virtual teaching has created an opportunity for educators to learn new digital skills that will help both inside and outside the classroom. We’ve seen teachers sign up for introductory sessions, as well as the more advanced sessions like using Jamboard, creating quizzes and more. Teachers can check the EdTechTeam Canada website to sign up for live workshops, or review recorded sessions.

Explore new ways to engage students

When you aren’t physically in the classroom with students, it can be challenging to measure student engagement. Simple tricks like using comments within Google Docs and Classroom are great to have a two-way dialogue with students as you share feedback. Using Google Sites can also help keep students and parents up-to-date with important reminders. You can take a look at more resources, tools and tips here.

Supporting learners is more important than ever

With parents now wearing multiple hats from parent to teacher and everything in between, we understand how important it is to support families that are learning at home. Share resources with parents and students who need a bit of practice with digital learning. Some helpful workshops include Get Started with Google Meet, and Google Classroom for Parents.

Our team has been inspired by the remarkable work of Canadian educators and school leaders who continue to adapt and innovate their processes through remote learning. To our educators - we thank you.

For any educators looking to join one of our live workshops, sign up here. We’ll continue to offer these workshops for the next few weeks, as the 2020 school year comes to an end. For more ideas to support educators during this time, try Teach from Home, a central hub of Google for Education tips and tools to help educators keep teaching, even when they aren’t in the classroom.

A Global Journalism Emergency Relief Fund for local news

Local news is a vital resource for keeping people and communities connected in the best of times. Today, it plays an even greater function in reporting on local lockdowns or shelter at home orders, school and park closures, and data about how COVID-19 is affecting daily life.

But that role is being challenged as never before as the news industry deals with everything from job cuts, furloughs and cutbacks as a result of the economic downturn prompted by COVID-19. The Google News Initiative wants to help by launching a Journalism Emergency Relief Fund to deliver urgent aid to thousands of small, medium and local news publishers globally. The funding is open to news organizations producing original news for local communities during this time of crisis, and will range from the low thousands of dollars for small hyper-local newsrooms to low tens of thousands for larger newsrooms, with variations per region.

Starting today, publishers everywhere can apply for funds via a simple application form. We’ve made the process as streamlined as possible to ensure we get help to eligible publishers all over the world quickly. Applications will close on Wednesday April 29, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. And in the coming weeks we’ll announce who has received funding and how publishers are spending the money.

Additionally, we recognize that covering the coronavirus pandemic can take its toll on reporters on the front line. That’s why Google.org is giving $1 million collectively to the International Center for Journalists, which plans to provide immediate resources to support reporters globally, and the Columbia Journalism School's Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma which is helping journalists exposed to traumatic events experienced during the crisis.

Today’s news builds on other efforts we’ve made to support the industry and connect people to quality information at this time of need. We believe it is important to do what we can to alleviate the financial pressures on newsrooms, and will continue to look at other ways to help with more to announce soon.

Posted by Richard Gingras, VP of News, Google

Play Stadia Pro for free, starting today

We’re facing some of the most challenging times in recent memory. Keeping social distance is vital, but staying home for long periods can be difficult and feel isolating. Video games can be a valuable way to socialize with friends and family when you’re stuck at home, so we’re giving gamers in 14 countries free access to Stadia for two months. This is starting today and rolling out over the next 48 hours.

Anyone who signs up will get two free months of Stadia Pro with instant access to nine games, including GRID, Destiny 2: The Collection, and Thumper. You can purchase even more games on the store, which will remain yours to play even if you cancel your Stadia Pro subscription. If you’re already a paid Stadia Pro subscriber, we won’t charge you for the next two months. After that, Stadia Pro is $9.99 a month, but you can opt out of your subscription​ at any time.

If you’re new, playing on Stadia is simple:

With increased demand due to more people at home during this time, we’re taking a responsible approach to internet traffic. For Stadia, we’ve always adjusted bandwidth use based on a variety of in-home and local internet factors. To reduce load on the internet further, we’re working toward a temporary feature that changes the default screen resolution from 4k to 1080p. The vast majority of people on a desktop or laptop won’t notice a significant drop in gameplay quality, but you can choose your​ data usage options ​in the Stadia app.

Like so many people around the world going through this crisis, our support team has been significantly impacted, and our customer support functions are not running at full capacity. Please use our automated Help Center ​and, as you give Stadia a try, check out these helpful tips ​for setting up your home environment. Many of you will be new to Stadia, so we’ve also posted a Getting Started Walkthrough.

Have fun, stay safe, and we look forward to playing with you on Stadia.

Posted by Phil Harrison, VP and GM, Stadia

Google Cloud announces new Toronto region to support growing customer base in Canada

For more than a decade, we’ve been investing in Canada to become a go-to cloud partner for organizations across the country, from Vancouver to my hometown of St. John’s and every city in between. Whether they’re in financial services, media and entertainment, retail, or another industry, a rapidly growing number of Canada-based organizations are choosing Google Cloud to help them build applications better and faster, store data, and ultimately deliver awesome experiences to their own users.

To support our expanding customer base in Canada, we’re excited to announce a new Google Cloud Platform region coming to Toronto. We’re working constantly to bring you new cloud products and capabilities in Canada, and our goal is to allow you to access those services quickly and easily — wherever you might be in the country. That’s why we decided to build this new region in Toronto, complementing our existing one in Montréal, which marked Google Cloud’s official arrival in Canada when we opened it in 2018.

Like Montréal, the new region will have three zones, allowing organizations of all sizes and industries to distribute apps and storage to protect against service disruptions. It will also launch with our core portfolio of Google Cloud Platform products, including Compute Engine, App Engine, Google Kubernetes Engine, Bigtable, Spanner, and BigQuery.

And the benefits don’t stop there. The Toronto region will provide distributed, secure infrastructure to help you meet disaster recovery and compliance requirements—something our customers have been asking for, especially financial institutions, public sector organizations, e-commerce providers, and other businesses operating in highly regulated industries.

While we’re thrilled about this news, don’t take it from us. We asked some of our customers with Canadian roots for their take on the upcoming cloud region. Here’s what they had to say:

  • David Furlong, SVP Artificial Intelligence, Venture Capital and Blockchain, at Banque Nationale: “Paired with their existing Montréal region, Google Cloud’s Toronto region will benefit the Canadian financial industry, enabling highly regulated organizations to perform disaster recovery while meeting data residency requirements.”
  • Ken Pickering, CTO at Hopper, the popular travel booking app: “Having already collaborated closely with the Google Cloud team in Montréal, where we’re headquartered, we look forward to their Toronto expansion. Google Cloud services are allowing us to bring a lower-latency travel planning and booking service to our customers. The second Canada region will allow us to extend that experience to more people around the world.”
  • Andrew McCormack, CIO at Payments Canada, a national payment clearing and settlement system that uses Google Cloud solutions like Apigee to digitize and manage its hybrid cloud environment: “System performance and security are critical for us an organization that clears and settles hundreds of billions of dollars every day. Google’s new Toronto cloud region will help us continue to modernize our infrastructure, strengthen our resilience, and create a digital platform for innovation.”

Today, Google Cloud customers around the world are currently served by 22 cloud regions and 67 zones. When we complete it in 2021, Toronto—along with three additional cloud regions we announced today on the other side of the world, Delhi, Doha, and Melbourne — will be part of our worldwide network of secure and reliable infrastructure.

For the latest and greatest updates on service availability, visit Google Cloud locations. Just getting started with Google Cloud? You can contact our sales team or find a local partner.

Posted by Jim Lambe, Managing Director, Google Cloud Canada

Google.org Grant recipient Arctic Eider Society, launches by Inuit, for Inuit platform

In 2017, we launched the Google.org Impact Challenge, a nationwide competition to identify and fund organizations that are using technology to tackle Canada’s biggest social challenges.

Following several weeks and several rounds of evaluation, over 900 of these hopeful non-profits refined their pitches and 10 winners were awarded a collective $5M to bring their ideas to life. These organizations received not only funding from Google.org, but also mentorship from Google volunteers, as well as capacity building and strategic support from LEAP Pecaut Centre for Social Impact (a venture philanthropy firm incubated by BCG) to drive deep impact across the country.

Among those 10 finalists, the Arctic Eider Society, an Inuit-driven non-profit based in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, stepped forward with a compelling mission to develop a living archive of Inuit knowledge called SIKU (meaning ‘sea ice’ in Inuktitut), that helps communities adapt to climate change.

The changing face of sea-ice and Inuit knowledge

For tens of thousands of Inuit in Canada, sea ice represents a map of the north and is integral to their way of life, but changing conditions make navigation unpredictable and limits access to traditional foods for Arctic communities. “The weather is changing, the ice conditions are changing. When we are driving a snowmobile or walking, we have to think before we get on that ice.” states Puasi Ippak, a youth from Sanikiluaq.

The SIKU platform will provide a set of open-source tools that help Inuit communities map changing sea ice, and build a living archive of Inuit knowledge to help inform decision making for stewardship and sustainable development. “By using novel techniques to document and access land-use observations in real time, SIKU supports Inuit self-determination in research, education and environmental stewardship.” states Joel Heath, Executive Director of the Arctic Eider Society.
SIKU’s technology enables Inuit knowledge to be recorded in a variety of ways

SIKU enables Inuit communities, people on the frontlines of the negative impacts of climate change, to record their knowledge and observations of the land in ways that elevate their recordings to a status far beyond anecdote. “Oral history has been a big part of our lives especially in the Inuit tradition, where nothing was written - everyone just had a good memory of what was handed down to them.”, explains Lizi Kavik, from Sanikiluaq. Furthermore, this oral history is laden with subtle influences of traditional Inuktut languages, “The water on the bottom of the snow, it’s called 'aputainaq'. It’s important to learn about the ice conditions in Inuktitut.”, says Puasi.

A novel and coordinated approach to technology

At its core, SIKU is a social media technology platform and mobile app developed by and for Inuit. It includes timelines, maps, profiles and commenting/sharing as well as a GPS with traditional place names, weather, tides, satellite imagery and ice safety services, all in one place. “Through SIKU, we are building new ways to show how Inuit knowledge and science can work together”, explains Lucassie Arragutainaq, Manager of Sanikiluaq Hunters and Trappers Association and member of Arctic Eider’s Board of Directors. “SIKU helps us gather all of this information in one place, and is a safe place for our hunters and elders to share our knowledge and stories, which is important for our youth.”

An Elder and Hunter review SIKU community stories that have been shared as posts

Improving communication and ice-safety with data

SIKU leverages the power of Google Earth Engine for geospatial analysis and satellite imagery to help build the Inuit ‘map of the north’. Jonassie, a local hunter, encountered a small crack in the ice one day while travelling, a crack which was also visible through satellite imagery. Using the SIKU app, he took a photo of the cracked ice, marked its location on the satellite image layer, and tagged it as ‘siqummaq’, a type of ice formation that can drastically change with wind direction.

A screenshot from SIKU depicting ‘siqummaq’ ice and other observations
This dangerous ice observation was then visible to all SIKU users, and the next day, Sentinel 2 satellite imagery served through Google Earth Engine showed the crack had indeed expanded and was impassable. Simeonie Kavik, a hunter from Sanikiluaq, commented on another observation in SIKU, “This sea ice is no good, if you try and pass by through this, you’ll lose your snowmobile.”

By Inuit, For Inuit

SIKU is an Inuit-driven platform, and today counts among its users communities from all around Canada’s Hudson Bay and Arctic coastline. The SIKU app can be downloaded to Android and iOS devices, and is available as an online platform at SIKU.org.

Google believes technology can make a better world, faster. The Arctic Eider Society is emblematic of this belief, and we’re excited to witness the impact SIKU will undoubtedly have for Inuit communities across Canada.

The public launch livestream of SIKU’s launch at the ArcticNet conference in Halifax can be viewed here.

Posted by James Henry, Sustainability Lead for Google Canada

Google News Initiative partners with CJF to help tackle fake news

Editor's Note: today's post is guest authored by Natalie Turvey, President and Executive Director of The Canadian Journalism Foundation 

What role will fake news play in our democracy? Even as we celebrate World News Day and recognize the important role Journalism plays in our lives, this question weighs on the minds of Canadians as we prepare to head to the polls in the fall.

40% of Canadians report finding it difficult to distinguish between truth and misinformation in the news, according to a new poll commissioned by the Canadian Journalism Foundation (with research conducted by Earnscliffe Strategy Group). It also shows that more than half of respondents (53%) have come across stories recently where they believe facts were twisted to push an agenda.

Looking to address concerns over Canadians’ capacity to identify authoritative information online, today the Google News Initiative announced a grant of $1 million to the Canadian Journalism Foundation to bring NewsWise to voting-age Canadians. The goal is simple: help all Canadians understand the difference between fact-based journalism and fake news in the digital world.

The project will support Canadian publishers in educating their audiences on how to understand and navigate an increasingly complex information environment. Developed in collaboration with experts and educators, NewsWise will deliver journalistic context that can help Canadian citizens gauge the reliability of the information they're consuming.

NewsWise builds on the success of its namesake student news literacy program, launched last year by the CJF and CIVIX (the team behind Student Vote). NewsWise is already reaching students in 98 of Canadian school boards.

Google and CJF’s commitment to fact-based journalism comes at a pivotal time for Canada. When asked if this confusion is leading people to not know which politicians to trust, 85% strongly agreed or agreed; up from 56 per cent in 2018. When asked if the average person does not know how to tell good journalism from rumors and falsehood, 74% strongly agreed or agreed; compared to 63% last year. The stakes are high.

Understanding what’s real and what’s not when it comes to the information we consume is essential to a functioning democracy. NewsWise provides Canadians the tools to be engaged and informed citizens of the digital age.

How Canadians are shopping this holiday season

Are you a last-minute shopper? Well, you’re not alone. With only 10 days until the holidays, a new study tells us that Canadians have completed less than half of their holiday shopping!1 But these last-minute shoppers aren’t panicking.

We partnered with Ipsos to survey Canadians on how they’ve used technology to shop this holiday season, and we found that holiday shoppers are using their smartphones, search and online video to be savvier than ever. This year, 34 percent of Canadian shoppers say they always do research or check digital sources before going to the store. Canadians may be last-minute shoppers, but they certainly have a game plan for when they hit the mall.

Today we’re sharing three trends that surfaced during Canada’s peak shopping season:

Smartphones are the ultimate shopping companion

The smartphone is a ubiquitous part of Canada's shopping experience, and when Canadians incorporated smartphone searches into their holiday shopping activities it resulted in a purchase 49 percent of the time. Savvy shoppers are turning to their smartphones to make purchases. Of the transactions that were made online this holiday season, 33 percent were purchased via smartphone.

While more people are willing to buy on mobile, we know that mobile is still used as a personal research assistant in and out of the store. This year, 38 percent of Canadian shoppers that bought in-store used their smartphone to search for products and services, and 74 percent used mobile apps as part of their holiday shopping experience.

Digital research influences purchases

Digital tools like smartphones and online search are friends, not foes, to in-store shopping. Canadian shoppers are conducting online research before they hit the mall to determine what they want to buy, the best products in a given category and which stores to visit to find that they need. We’ve seen mobile searches related to “best” products in the top retail categories grow by more than 44 percent in the last year.2

This year, shoppers are prepared, as one in five Canadian holiday shoppers say they’ve checked prices online before going in store. Almost half (43%), wish retail stores would do a better job of sharing inventory information.

YouTube is the new gift guide

Whether it’s watching a product review or learning how to bake gingerbread cookies, Canadian shoppers look to video in countless moments throughout to the day to help get things done. And this includes shopping. This holiday season, shoppers will turn to devices to learn more, make a decision or purchase a product. This year, 26 percent of holiday shoppers used online video to look at products and services

Whether you’re a last-minute shopper or you’ve checked off your whole list, have a happy holiday!

Posted by Sarah Bradley and Naumi Haque, Research and Market Insights Managers, Google Canada.

1 Google/Ipsos, 2016 Holiday Shopping Study, Nov 17 to Dec 9, 2016, with n=1,387 Canadian shoppers

2 Google internal data, Canada searches related to apparel, home & garden, beauty & personal care, computer & electronics, and gift (excluding terms “best buy,” “best man,” and “best friends”). Jan-March 2015 vs. Jan-March 2016

Official Google Canada Blog 2016-08-18 12:34:00

From Bobcaygeon to the Paris of the Prairies, this Saturday Canadians from across the country and around the world are celebrating an amazing moment in our shared history.

On Saturday, August 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET, CBC Music will broadcast and livestream The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration, the band’s sold out concert in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario, on YouTube.

For over three decades Gord Downie and the Hip have sung of uniquely Canadian moments, memories and places that span Canada’s geography. From Ahead by a Century to At the Hundredth Meridian, the songbook of The Tragically Hip feels at times like an intimate narration of our country’s history.

The band has been flooded with love by fans from Canada and abroad. The Kingston show this Saturday is the last stop on the band’s 15-city tour - one more chance for fans to show their deep appreciation.  And it is this show that the CBC Music is broadcasting and livestreaming on YouTube.

As Canada's national broadcaster, CBC Music is proud to share this celebration of the Tragically Hip with Canadians -- and the world.  No matter where you are this Saturday, tune in to CBC Music’s YouTube livestream to celebrate The Tragically Hip in what is sure to be another beautiful moment of Canadian history.

Posted by: Mark Steinmetz, Senior Director of CBC Music

Meet Google Duo, a simple 1-to-1 video calling app for everyone

Video calling is the next best thing to being with someone in person, but too often it can be a frustrating or complicated experience. You shouldn’t have to worry about whether your call will connect, or if your friend is using the same type of device as you are.

Today, we’re releasing Google Duo — a simple 1-to-1 video calling app available for Android and iOS. Duo takes the complexity out of video calling, so that you can be together in the moment wherever you are.
Google Duo works across Android and iOS - all you need is a phone number

Simple interface
Duo is simple from start to finish. To get started, all you need is your phone number and you’ll be able to reach people in your phone’s contacts list. No separate account is required, so you can sign up in just a few steps. From there, you can instantly begin a video call with a single tap.

Fast and reliable
We all know how it feels when a call fails to connect or when video gets choppy. We’ve built Duo to be fast and reliable, so that video calls connect quickly and work well even on slower networks. Call quality adjusts to changing network conditions to keep you connected -- when bandwidth is limited, Duo will gracefully reduce the resolution to keep the call going smoothly. For video calls on the go, Duo will switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data automatically without dropping your call. You can start your call at home, and continue seamlessly even when you head out the door.

Human design
We designed Duo to feel warm and inviting, focused on just you and the person you’re calling. To make calls feel more like an invitation rather than an interruption, we created a feature in Duo called Knock Knock which lets you see live video of your caller before you answer, giving you a sense of what they’re up to and why they want to chat. Knock Knock makes video calling more spontaneous and welcoming, helping you connect with the person before you even pick up.
Knock Knock in Duo lets you see who’s calling before you pick up

Finally, we built Duo with an emphasis on privacy and security, and all Duo calls are end-to-end encrypted.

Give your friends a wave with Duo! We’re beginning to roll out Duo for Android and iOS today, and it will be live worldwide in the next few days.

Posted by Justin Uberti, Principal Software Engineer