Tag Archives: New Zealand

Investing in Cloud Connectivity to Serve Kiwi Businesses

If there’s one thing we know for sure, COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of digital transformation in companies across New Zealand, and the Cloud has played a critical role in helping organisations build for the future.

Today we’re pleased to share that we’re investing in our cloud infrastructure to provide best-in-class connectivity to Google Cloud customers in New Zealand and Australia. 

First, we’re bringing a Dedicated Cloud Interconnect to Auckland this month. This will provide direct physical connections between an organisation’s on-premises network and Google's global network, thereby making it easier for customers to access a range of Google Cloud products and services.

Secondly, we’re launching our Melbourne Cloud region today, our second within ANZ since we launched our Sydney region in 2017. Designed for high availability, the region opens with three zones which enables us to deliver two geographically separated cloud regions to our Kiwi customers to meet IT and business requirements for disaster recovery while maintaining the reliability of their data. 

Collectively, these investments will deliver geographically distributed and secure infrastructure to customers across New Zealand, enabling them to take advantage of the cleanest cloud in the industry.

Trade Me talked about their decision to migrate from their on-premise data centers to run on Google Cloud. Paolo Ragone, Chief Technology Officer said, “We moved to Google Cloud to improve the stability and resilience of our infrastructure and become more cloud-native as part of a digital transformation program that keeps the customer at the heart of our business. We welcome Google Cloud’s investment in ANZ and what they present to improve Trade Me’s agility and performance.”

 

As organisations continue to look to cloud services to drive the digital transformation of their businesses. Google Cloud is here to help businesses become smarter with data, deploy faster, connect more easily with people and customers throughout the globe, and protect everything that matters to their businesses. Our investments in connectivity and cloud infrastructure are a catalyst for this change, and we look forward to seeing how customers and partners grow, innovate, and drive digital transformation forward in the region.


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YouTube Shorts Arrives in New Zealand


Image of YouTube homepage on mobile


Last year, we announced that we are building YouTube Shorts, a short-form video experience for anyone who wants to create short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones. Since then, we’ve expanded our beta to 26 more countries and have already seen many creative, awesome Shorts from our community. 


We’re excited to share that YouTube Shorts is going global. We’re now rolling out our beta across more than 100 countries around the world where YouTube is available, including New Zealand. 


We plan to introduce more features as we continue to build Shorts alongside creators and artists. Here’s an update on what to expect from YouTube Shorts as it rolls out here. 


Unlocking a new playground of creativity


Creation is at the core of short-form video, and we want to make it easy and fun to create Shorts. Shorts already includes foundational creation tools like a multi-segment camera to string multiple video clips together, the ability to record with music, control speed settings, and more. As we continue to build Shorts alongside our creators and artists, we’ve added more features to try, like:


  • Add text to specific points in your video

  • Sample audio from other Shorts to remix into your own creation

  • Automatically add captions to your Short

  • Record up to 60 seconds with the Shorts camera

  • Add clips from your phone’s gallery to add to your recordings made with the Shorts camera

  • Add basic filters to colour correct your Shorts, with more effects to come in the future


We’ve also been starting to roll out the ability to sample audio from videos across YouTube - which includes billions of videos worldwide - unlocking a new playground of creativity like never before. This means you can give your own creative spin on the content you love to watch on YouTube and help find it a new audience — whether it’s reacting to your favourite jokes, trying your hand at a creator’s latest recipe, or re-enacting comedic skits. Creators will be in control and will be able to opt out if they don’t want their long form video remixed. 


We’ve also worked alongside our music partners to make sure artists and creators have a large library of songs to use in their Shorts. As we expand Shorts, the library and number of partners will continue to grow.


Stay tuned for more creation tools rolling out in the future as we continue to build Shorts. 



Image of YouTube Shorts on mobile


Delivering a seamless viewing experience across YouTube


We know that creation is only one part of the Shorts experience. We also want to help people find Shorts to enjoy and help creators get discovered. We’ve introduced a row on the YouTube homepage especially for Shorts, have launched a new watch experience that lets you easily swipe vertically from one video to the next, and will soon add a Shorts tab on mobile that makes it easier for you to watch Shorts with a single tap.


We’re also exploring how to deepen your connection with Shorts content, creators, and artists you’re most interested in by integrating it with the YouTube you already know and love. For instance, if you hear a snippet of a song on Shorts, you can easily find the full song, watch the music video, or learn more about the artist —all on YouTube. And it works both ways. Tap the create button right from a video to make your own Short with that audio, or check out how others are using it on Shorts.


As more people create and watch Shorts, we expect that our systems will get even better, improving our ability to help you discover new content, trends, and creators you’ll love. 


Supporting mobile creators 


YouTube has helped an entire generation of creators turn their creativity into businesses and become the next generation media companies. Over the last three years, we’ve paid more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and media companies.


Shorts is a new way to watch and create on YouTube, so we’ve been taking a fresh look at what it means to monetise Shorts and reward creators for their content. We are deeply committed to supporting the next generation of mobile creators with Shorts, and are actively working on what monetisation options will look like in the future.


As our first step in this journey, we recently introduced the YouTube Shorts Fund, a $100M fund distributed over the course of 2021-2022. 


The Shorts beta is rolling out globally and will be available to everybody soon. We know that it will take us time to get this right, but we can't wait for you to try Shorts and help us build a first-class short-form video experience right on YouTube. 


Post Content Posted by YouTube Australia and New Zealand Team.

Google Play Points: a rewards program for the ways you Play

Since 2012, Google Play has been your place to find and enjoy apps, games, movies, TV shows, and books. More than 2 billion people in 190 countries use Google Play to discover blockbuster movies, apps that help you be more productive, and books that inspire imagination.


To show our appreciation, we created a rewards program called Google Play Points that lets you earn points and rewards for the ways you already use Google Play. Over the past two years, millions of people in Japan, South Korea, the US, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Australia have joined the program. Starting this week, Google Play Points is launching in New Zealand. 


It’s free to join, and you can earn Play Points to use for special items and discounts in top games or for Google Play Credit to use on movies, books, games, and apps.



Play your way and earn points


With Google Play Points, you’ll earn points on everything you buy with Google Play, including in-app items, movies, books, subscriptions and more. Weekly points events can boost your earning rate on movies, books, and select games. 


Google Play Points has four levels, from Bronze to Platinum. Your level depends on how many points you’ve collected, and higher levels have perks like weekly prizes.



Redeem your Play Points how you’d like


We’re partnering with developers of some of the top apps and games on Google Play so that you can redeem points for special in-app items like characters, gems and more. You can also use Play Points for Google Play Credit and rent an award-winning movie or buy a best-selling audiobook. 



Join for free


Google Play Points will be available over the next week. It’s free to join, there is no recurring or monthly fee, and you’ll earn three times the Play Points on everything you buy your first week. To get started, visit Google Play. Tap menu, then Play Points. Learn more about Play Points--and get ready to earn points and rewards.



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2021 Computer Science Grants Awarded to New Zealand Educators

Now, more than ever, it’s important that we support Kiwi teachers and ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and resources they need to succeed. A recent survey of Kiwi teachers revealed that only 7% had the knowledge and skills to introduce computer science (CS) curriculum in the classroom. Understanding, creating and using technology are critical skills for all students and teachers, regardless of where in Aotearoa they live. 


Google’s Educator PD Grants program has been running in New Zealand since 2011 and, in that time, has trained over 20,000 teachers. The program aims to equip teachers through practical professional development workshops, with the skills and resources they need to confidently teach computational thinking and computer science concepts in new and exciting ways. 


The impact of PD Grants for Educators


One of the workshops to benefit from the grants is CS4HS


CS4HS workshops aim to support teachers to build their skills in STEM and digital technologies, to find creative ways to deliver lessons in the classroom and to tap into the enthusiasm that many students have for technology.


Dr Mahsa Mohaghegh is the organiser of CS4HS, which has received funding from Google since 2013. 


“The purpose of the conference is to upskill our valuable high school educators by presenting ideas to engage students with new technologies so students can be better equipped for the needs of twenty-first century learning and jobs,” Dr Mahsa says. “We have heard year after year from teachers how valuable the workshop is for them and for some it is the only professional development in the year.” 


We’re excited to announce the following 2021 CS Educator Grants Awardees, who, like Mahsa, will motivate and inspire educators around New Zealand.


2021 CS Educator Grants Funding Recipients in New Zealand



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2021 Computer Science Grants Awarded to New Zealand Educators

Now, more than ever, it’s important that we support Kiwi teachers and ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and resources they need to succeed. A recent survey of Kiwi teachers revealed that only 7% had the knowledge and skills to introduce computer science (CS) curriculum in the classroom. Understanding, creating and using technology are critical skills for all students and teachers, regardless of where in Aotearoa they live. 


Google’s Educator PD Grants program has been running in New Zealand since 2011 and, in that time, has trained over 20,000 teachers. The program aims to equip teachers through practical professional development workshops, with the skills and resources they need to confidently teach computational thinking and computer science concepts in new and exciting ways. 


The impact of PD Grants for Educators


One of the workshops to benefit from the grants is CS4HS


CS4HS workshops aim to support teachers to build their skills in STEM and digital technologies, to find creative ways to deliver lessons in the classroom and to tap into the enthusiasm that many students have for technology.


Dr Mahsa Mohaghegh is the organiser of CS4HS, which has received funding from Google since 2013. 


“The purpose of the conference is to upskill our valuable high school educators by presenting ideas to engage students with new technologies so students can be better equipped for the needs of twenty-first century learning and jobs,” Dr Mahsa says. “We have heard year after year from teachers how valuable the workshop is for them and for some it is the only professional development in the year.” 


We’re excited to announce the following 2021 CS Educator Grants Awardees, who, like Mahsa, will motivate and inspire educators around New Zealand.


2021 CS Educator Grants Funding Recipients in New Zealand



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Helping Kiwis with the digital skills needed now, and in the future

Video: CS Unplugged in a New Zealand classroom

Teaching students computer science without a computer. Reaching offline Senior citizens learning how to connect during a national lockdown. Helping small business owners get their business online.


For many years we’ve been working to ensure Kiwis get the digital skills they need to succeed in our increasingly online world. This is a necessary task, as research shows that by 2025 as many as 149 million new digital technology jobs are expected to be created worldwide. 


Released today, our 2020 Community Engagement Report which has been compiled by Social Ventures Australia, highlights the ways in which communities across Aotearoa such as students and teachers, small businesses have built digital capabilities and confidence - with support from Google.


Innovative Digital Skills Programmes

We’re proud of the programmes we’ve been running and supporting, aimed at helping Kiwis acquire new skills to succeed in an increasingly digitised world. Many of our initiatives support marginalised or traditionally excluded groups such as Māori and Pasifika communities, women and older New Zealanders. 


Lifting educator’s capacity to teach Computer Science (CS) to build a future pipeline of talent is one of the key areas our skilling programmes are designed for. The Manaiakalani Education Trust’s Digital Fluency Intensive is designed to empower teachers in low decile schools to effectively and creatively teach CS. We’ve been supporting this programme since 2013, and studies show that after three years in a Manaiakalani school young people make up to two times the expected progress in a school year when compared with the national average. 


Resilient Home Grown Businesses

In order to support New Zealand’s economic recovery, we’re helping small businesses, the nonprofit sector and Aotearoa’s newsrooms to harness the benefits of technologies. Local business consultancy The Icehouse received funds via Youth Business International’s Covid-19 Rapid Response and Recovery initiative funded by Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, to provide guidance and emergency relief to Kiwi entrepreneurs impacted by COVID-19 and they focussed on supporting small businesses run by women, young people and migrants which secured 280 jobs. 


Last year 76 local news organisations across New Zealand and the Pacific received emergency relief from the Google News Initiative, because we saw it as critical to support local reporting during a crisis. And 78% of nonprofit organisations rated Google’s products as critical or important to their organisation during 2020, playing a critical role in adapting or changing their outreach programmes, showing the impact of Google for Nonprofits.


Support to Address COVID-19

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we worked closely with the New Zealand Government, by mobilising resources across Search, Maps and YouTube, to drive unified action and support for the national COVID-19 response. The donation of NZ$8.5 million of Google Ads – to the New Zealand Government, not-for-profits and small businesses – helped authorities to elevate critical information and trustworthy resources and ensured Kiwis could easily find information they needed.


With the increasing speed at which Kiwis are accessing information, the role of digitisation should not decrease the quality, especially in times of need. We know that the spread of misinformation erodes public trust in news, and government for example, so we’ve continued to work in partnerships to help communities find the latest health information about COVID-19 when Kiwis need it most. 


We’ll continue to find unique and impactful ways to support New Zealanders in their digitisation, so that people around New Zealand – whether they are students, businesses, not-for-profits, educators, researchers or creators – are able to not just survive but thrive in the digital world. 


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Woolaroo – Promoting language preservation & education with ML

Explore 10 languages from around the world by taking pictures of your surroundings and listening to the pronunciations from local speakers.

Accessibility text: gif animation of different hands holding a  phone with a Woolaroo translation on the screen


Today, I’m proud to announce the launch of Woolaroo, a new Google Arts & Culture experiment using the Cloud Vision API. 



Woolaroo is open source and allows language communities to preserve and expand their language word lists and add audio recordings to help with pronunciation. The technology was first innovated in the development of Spark’s breakthrough Kupu App in New Zealand in 2018, to support the revitalisation of te reo Māori (the Māori language). Now, with the launch of Woolaroo, 10 global languages are supported including Louisiana Creole, Calabrian Greek, te reo Māori, Tamazight, Sicilian, Yang Zhuang, Rapa Nui, Yiddish and Yugambeh.



When Dr Tania Ka’ai, Chair of Te Murumāra Foundation was invited to work on this project she first wanted to meet with the Yugambeh people of Australia. “I saw it as important to ensure that we recognise proper cultural protocols even when living in a digital world. As namesakes of Woolaroo, we were being invited into their space and so meeting, even virtually, was the right place to begin.” 



The Te Murumāra Foundation was integral to the development of the Kupu App, through the sharing of the Te Aka Māori Dictionary to power the translations and guiding the translation process and campaign alongside Spark NZ. Dr Tania Ka’ai, Te Murumāra Foundation's Chair was also closely involved in the development of Woolaroo and said, “This work is incredibly important for showcasing how digital platforms can make Te Reo and other endangered languages more accessible and interactive for both Kiwis and people all over the world. At Te Murumāra Foundation we’re continuing to evolve and develop in our commitment to sharing te reo Māori resources, and this next evolution of the technology and scale of reach is truly exciting for indigenous languages all over the world.”



Woolaroo was co-developed by RUSH, one of New Zealand’s most innovative digital product studios. RUSH took on the project to help use innovative technologies like Machine Learning, Machine Vision and the power of the Cloud in a project that aligned so closely to its purpose statement; to design technology to better serve humankind.


RUSH founder, Danushka Abeysuriya says: “A more globalised and fast-evolving technological world has played a role in shrinking use of native languages. Given the challenges the world faces ahead in climate change, social equity, sustainability and co-operation - there are powerful lessons to be learned from indigenous cultures and the embodied values these languages and cultures have to offer. This is why we are proud to apply technology to this task. It’s in everyone’s best interest to not let these languages fade away.”



All of the languages on Woolaroo are a crucial aspect of a community’s cultural heritage. If you, your grandparents or people in your community speak any of these languages – even if just a few words –  by giving it a go, you can help to expand the growing coverage of Woolaroo.


We hope people will enjoy learning and interacting with a language that is new to you and in turn learn about the diversity of communities and heritage we all share together. 


Explore more on the Google Arts & Culture app for iOS and Android and at g.co/woolaroo.



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Earth Day 2021 – Advancing Conservation Efforts with AI

Each year on April 22 we celebrate Earth Day, to help raise awareness and  demonstrate support for environmental protection. 

While Earth Day should not be the only day we strive towards sustainability, it’s an opportunity to celebrate the work that customers are doing to protect our planet and species for future generations using Google AI.

Saving the world’s rarest dolphin

With RUSH and MAUI63 we’re helping to save the world’s rarest dolphin, the Māui dolphin. Just 63 of these dolphins remain in the world, putting it on the brink of extinction. As part of the Māui Drone Project, the R/VISION platform, powered by Google Cloud, is supporting the data processing, display and analytics provided by specialised AI-powered tracking drones developed by the MAUI63 team.

The team's mission is to provide conservationists unparalleled access to information about Māui dolphins, and in the future any and all species, including detailed data on the habitats, population size and distribution and behaviour of the dolphins. Artificial intelligence helps fill critical science gaps about the Māui dolphins. In the future, by advancing understanding of how these dolphins behave and providing this data publicly, data driven decisions can be made by policy makers, scientists and private organisations to ensure robust and appropriate measures are in place to protect Māui dolphins.

Recognising birdsong to protect threatened native birds

Our machine learning technology is being used by Victoria University to help them digest tens of thousands of hours of birdsong to pick out threatened birds, like hihi, saddleback and kakariki. The recordings captured birds at 50 locations in and around Wellington sanctuary Zealandia, but researchers were overwhelmed by the vast data-bank facing them.

Leveraging our TensorFlow technology, the AI system learned to recognise different bird calls, effectively measuring the activity of each bird species at specific times and locations. Due to the limited information about threatened bird species outside of wildlife sanctuaries, it was difficult to know how to maximise conservation efforts. By combining acoustic sensors and AI, researchers can gather enough information to identify the location and visiting frequency of threatened birds outside protected areas – thereby allowing better planning for future conservation efforts.

Creating a better world for future generations

Supporting the conservation efforts of our customers is just one part of our commitment to creating a better future for future generations. We haven’t reached the finish line yet, there’s still much more to be done. We look forward to continuing to support the work our customers are doing to drive conservation, as well as the role that new technologies, like AI and machine learning, play in improving these efforts.

Earth Day 2021 – Advancing Conservation Efforts with AI

Each year on April 22 we celebrate Earth Day, to help raise awareness and  demonstrate support for environmental protection. 

While Earth Day should not be the only day we strive towards sustainability, it’s an opportunity to celebrate the work that customers are doing to protect our planet and species for future generations using Google AI.

Saving the world’s rarest dolphin

With RUSH and MAUI63 we’re helping to save the world’s rarest dolphin, the Māui dolphin. Just 63 of these dolphins remain in the world, putting it on the brink of extinction. As part of the Māui Drone Project, the R/VISION platform, powered by Google Cloud, is supporting the data processing, display and analytics provided by specialised AI-powered tracking drones developed by the MAUI63 team.

The team's mission is to provide conservationists unparalleled access to information about Māui dolphins, and in the future any and all species, including detailed data on the habitats, population size and distribution and behaviour of the dolphins. Artificial intelligence helps fill critical science gaps about the Māui dolphins. In the future, by advancing understanding of how these dolphins behave and providing this data publicly, data driven decisions can be made by policy makers, scientists and private organisations to ensure robust and appropriate measures are in place to protect Māui dolphins.

Recognising birdsong to protect threatened native birds

Our machine learning technology is being used by Victoria University to help them digest tens of thousands of hours of birdsong to pick out threatened birds, like hihi, saddleback and kakariki. The recordings captured birds at 50 locations in and around Wellington sanctuary Zealandia, but researchers were overwhelmed by the vast data-bank facing them.

Leveraging our TensorFlow technology, the AI system learned to recognise different bird calls, effectively measuring the activity of each bird species at specific times and locations. Due to the limited information about threatened bird species outside of wildlife sanctuaries, it was difficult to know how to maximise conservation efforts. By combining acoustic sensors and AI, researchers can gather enough information to identify the location and visiting frequency of threatened birds outside protected areas – thereby allowing better planning for future conservation efforts.

Creating a better world for future generations

Supporting the conservation efforts of our customers is just one part of our commitment to creating a better future for future generations. We haven’t reached the finish line yet, there’s still much more to be done. We look forward to continuing to support the work our customers are doing to drive conservation, as well as the role that new technologies, like AI and machine learning, play in improving these efforts.

Meet the new Nest Hub


Introducing the second-gen Nest Hub from Google, the centre of your helpful home. Stay entertained with shows, videos and music. And control your compatible smart devices with a tap or your voice.



The Nest Hub you love, but better

The new Nest Hub has rich sound to fill any room with music, podcasts and audiobooks from services like YouTube Music and Spotify. Just ask Google to play your favourite shows and movies on Netflix, YouTube and Disney+. Catch up on sports highlights on YouTube. And find how-to videos on just about anything. With Quick Gestures, you can pause or play content at any time by tapping the air in front of your display.  


The new Nest Hub shows all your compatible connected devices in one place so you can control them with one tap. And with a built-in Thread radio, Nest Hub will work with the new connectivity standard being created by the Project Connected Home over IP working group, making it even simpler to control your connected home. 


Nest Hub is also full of help for your busy home. See your calendar, set timers and create reminders so everyone stays on track. Just say, “Hey Google, broadcast it’s dinnertime” and everyone will hear it on your Nest speakers around the house. Ask Google about the weather or almost anything.



New sleep features for better rest

The Nest Hub has always helped you tackle the day; now, it can help you rest well at night. Many of us don’t get enough sleep, which is becoming the number one concern for adults when it comes to health and wellness. 


As people have started to recognise the need for better sleep, sleep trackers have continued to become a popular solution. But we wanted to offer an alternative way for people who may not want to wear something to bed to understand their sleep.


We dug into the data, and because we also knew people felt comfortable with Nest Hub at their bedsides thanks to its camera-free design, we went to work. The result is Sleep Sensing, an opt-in feature to help you understand and improve your sleep — and is available as a free preview until next year.


Sleep Sensing is completely optional with privacy safeguards in place so you’re in control: You choose if you want to enable it and there's a visual indicator on the display to let you know when it’s on. Motion Sense only detects motion, not specific bodies or faces, and your coughing and snoring audio data is only processed on the device — it isn’t sent to Google servers. You have multiple controls to disable Sleep Sensing features, including a hardware switch that physically disables the microphone. You can review or delete your sleep data at any time, and consistent with our privacy commitments, it isn't used for personalised ads.


Even if you choose not to enable Sleep Sensing, you can still fall asleep and wake up easier with Nest Hub. The display dims to make your bedroom more sleep-friendly, and the “Your evening” page helps you wind down at night with relaxing sounds. When it’s time to wake up, Nest Hub’s Sunrise Alarm gradually brightens the display and increases the alarm volume. If you need a few more ZZZs, use Motion Sense to wave your hand and snooze the alarm. 



Sustainable design that matches any room

The new Nest Hub will be available to Kiwis in two colours, to complement most rooms in the house: Chalk and Charcoal. It features an edgeless glass display that’s easy to clean and makes your Nest Hub an even more beautiful digital photo frame. And continuing our commitment to sustainability, Nest Hub is designed with recycled materials with its plastic mechanical parts containing 54 percent recycled post-consumer plastic.


The second-generation Nest Hub is NZ$169. It will be available from the following retailers; JB Hi-Fi, Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman, PB Tech and The Warehouse, from May 5.