Tag Archives: Pandemic

An update on our COVID response priorities

 Our teams at Google continue to support the tireless work of hospitals, nonprofits, and public health service providers across the country. Right now, we’re focused on three priority areas: ensuring people can access the latest and most authoritative information; amplifying vital safety and vaccination messages; and providing financial backing for affected communities, health authorities and other organizations.

Providing critical and authoritative information

On all our platforms, we’re taking steps to surface the critical information families and communities need to care for their own health and look after others.

Searches on the COVID-19 vaccine display key information around side effects, effectiveness, and registration details, while treatment-related queries surface guidance from ministry resources

When people ask questions about vaccines on Google Search, they see information panels that display the latest updates on vaccine safety, efficacy and side-effects, plus registration information that directs users to the Co-WIN website. You will also find information about prevention, self-care, and treatment under the Prevention and Treatment tab, in easy-to-understand language sourced from authorised medical sources and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 

On YouTube we’re surfacing authoritative information in a set of playlists, about vaccines, preventing the spread of COVID-19, and facts from experts on COVID-19 care.

Our YouTube India channel features a set of playlists to share tips and information on COVID-19 care 

Testing and vaccination center locations

In addition to showing 2,500 testing centers on Search and Maps, we’re now sharing the locations of over 23,000 vaccination centers nationwide, in English and eight Indian languages. And we’re continuing to work closely with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to make more vaccination center information available to users throughout India.

Searching for vaccines in Maps and Search now shows over 23,000 vaccination centers across the country, in English and eight Indian languages

Pilot on hospital beds and medical oxygen availability

We know that some of the most crucial information people are searching for is the availability of hospital beds and access to medical oxygen. To help them find answers more easily, we’re testing a new feature using the Q&A function in Maps that enables people to ask about and share local information on availability of beds and medical oxygen in select locations. As this will be user generated content and not provided by authorised sources, it may be required to verify the accuracy and freshness of the information before utilizing it.

Amplifying vital safety and vaccination messages

As well as providing authoritative answers to queries, we’re using our channels to help extend the reach of health information campaigns. That includes the ‘Get the Facts’ around vaccines campaign, to encourage people to focus on authoritative information and content for vaccines. We’re also surfacing important safety messages through promotions on the Google homepage, Doodles and reminders within our apps and services.

Via the Google Search homepage and reminders within our apps and services, we are reminding people to stay safe and stay masked, and get authoritative information on vaccines

Supporting health authorities, organizations, and affected communities

Since the second wave began, we’ve been running an internal donation campaign to raise funds for nonprofit organizations helping those most in need, including GiveIndia, Charities Aid Foundation India, GOONJ, and United Way of Mumbai. This campaign has raised over $4.6 million (INR 33 crore) to date, and continues to generate much-needed support for relief efforts. 

We recognize that many more nonprofits need donations, and that Indians are eager to help where they can—so we’ve rolled out a COVID Aid campaign on Google Pay, featuring non-profit organizations like GiveIndia, Charities Aid Foundation, Goonj, Save the Children, Seeds, UNICEF India  (National NGOs) and United Way. We want to thank all our Google Pay users who have contributed to these organisations, and we hope this effort will make a difference where it matters most. 

On Google Pay people can contribute funds to non-profit organizations involved in COVID response

As India battles this devastating wave, we’ll keep doing all we can to support the selfless individuals and committed organizations on the front lines of the response. There’s a long way to go—but standing together in solidarity, working together with determination, we can and will turn the tide.  

Posted by the Covid Response team, Google India


Supporting India during the current COVID crisis

Right now India is going through our most difficult moment in the pandemic thus far. Daily COVID-19 cases continue to set record highs, with hospitals filled to capacity and in need of urgent supplies to cope with the increasing number of patients. 


Our Google community and their families are feeling the devastating impact, too. We’re asking ourselves what more we can do as a company to ensure people get the information and support they need to keep their families and communities healthy and safe.


Today we’re announcing 135 Crore INR ($18 million USD) in new funding for India. This includes two grants from Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, totalling 20 Crore INR ($2.6 million USD). The first is to GiveIndia to provide cash assistance to families hit hardest by the crisis to help with their everyday expenses. The second will go to UNICEF to help get urgent medical supplies, including oxygen and testing equipment, to where it’s needed most in India. It also includes donations from our ongoing employee giving campaign — so far more than 900 Googlers have contributed 3.7 Crore INR ($500,000 USD) for organizations supporting high-risk and marginalized communities. 


This funding also includes increased Ad Grant support for public health information campaigns. Since last year, we’ve helped MyGov and the World Health Organization reach audiences with messages focused on how to stay safe and facts about vaccines. We’re increasing our support today with an additional 112 Crore INR ($15 million) in Ad Grants to local health authorities and nonprofits for more language coverage options.



COVID-19 vaccine information on Search is available in English and eight Indian languages


We know the biggest way we can help is through our core information products like Search and Maps, YouTube and Ads. Our COVID features on Search are available in India, in English and eight Indian languages, and we continue to improve localization and highlight authoritative information. That includes information on where to get testing and vaccines; so far, Maps and Search surface thousands of vaccine sites, and we are working to add tens of thousands more. We’re also collaborating closely with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, and with organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to support vaccine awareness initiatives. 


On YouTube, we are supporting the government in their vaccine communication strategy, as well as working to raise up authoritative information and reduce misinformation. We recently ran a workshop for 200+ health officials to learn how they can use YouTube to reach audiences across Indian languages with vaccine information. And we’ve added support for public donations for several non-governmental organizations on Google Pay.


I am hopeful that the situation will turn around for our country soon, but as we have learned over the course of this pandemic, hope is not enough. At Google we’ll continue to work with local governments, partners and communities to give people the tools to stay healthy and safe. We’ll get through this tough time together. 


Posted by Sanjay Gupta, Country Head & Vice President, India

How anonymized data helps fight against disease

Data has always been a vital tool in understanding and fighting disease — from Florence Nightingale’s 1800s hand drawn illustrations that showed how poor sanitation contributed to preventable diseases to the first open source repository of data developed in response to the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa. When the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Wuhan, data again became one of the most critical tools to combat the pandemic. 

A group of researchers, who documented the initial outbreak, quickly joined forces and started collecting data that could help epidemiologists around the world model the trajectory of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The researchers came from University of Oxford, Tsinghua University, Northeastern University and Boston Children’s Hospital, among others. 

However, their initial workflow was not designed for the exponential rise in cases. The researchers turned to Google.org for help. As part of Google’s $100 million contribution to COVID relief, Google.org granted $1.25 million in funding and provided a team of 10 fulltime Google.org Fellows and 7 part-time Google volunteers to assist with the project.  

Google volunteers worked with the researchers to create Global.health, a scalable and open-access platform that pulls together millions of anonymized COVID-19 cases from over 100 countries. This platform helps epidemiologists around the world model the trajectory of COVID-19, and track its variants and future infectious diseases. 

The need for trusted and anonymized case data

When an outbreak occurs, timely access to organized, trustworthy and anonymized data is critical for public health leaders to inform early policy decisions, medical interventions, and allocations of resources — all of which can slow disease spread and save lives. The insights derived from “line-list” data (e.g. anonymized case level information), as opposed to aggregated data such as case counts, are essential for epidemiologists to perform more detailed statistical analyses and model the effectiveness of interventions. 

Volunteers at the University of Oxford started manually curating this data, but it was spread over hundreds of websites, in dozens of formats, in multiple languages. The HealthMap team at Boston Children’s Hospital also identified early reports of COVID-19 through automated indexing of news sites and official sources. These two teams joined forces, shared the data, and published peer-reviewed findings to create a trusted resource for the global community.

Enter the Google.org Fellowship

To help the global community of researchers in this meaningful endeavour, Google.org decided to offer the support of 10 Google.org Fellows who spent 6 months working full-time on Global.health, in addition to $1.25M in grant funding. Working hand in hand with the University of Oxford and Boston Children’s Hospital, the Google.org team spoke to researchers and public health officials working on the frontline to understand real-life challenges they faced when finding and using high-quality trusted data — a tedious and manual process that often takes hours. 

Upholding data privacy is key to the platform’s design. The anonymized data used at Global.health comes from open-access authoritative public health sources, and a panel of data experts rigorously checks it to make sure it meets strict anonymity requirements. The Google.org Fellows assisted the Global.health team to design the data ingestion flow to implement best practices for data verification and quality checks to make sure that no personal data made its way into the platform. (All line-list data added to the platform is stored and hosted in Boston Children’s Hospital’s secure data infrastructure, not Google’s.)

Looking to the future

With the support of Google.org and The Rockefeller Foundation, Global.health has grown into an international consortium of researchers at leading universities curating the most comprehensive line-list COVID-19 database in the world.  It includes millions of anonymized records from trusted sources spanning over 100 countries, including India.

Today, Global.health helps researchers across the globe access data in a matter of minutes and a series of clicks. The flexibility of the Global.health platform means that it can be adapted to any infectious disease data and local context as new outbreaks occur. Global.health lays a foundation for researchers and public health officials to access this data no matter their location, be it New York, São Paulo, Munich, Kyoto or Nairobi.

Posted by Stephen Ratcliffe, Google.org Fellow and the Global.health team

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