Our views on the Internet and society
Suffragette the movie - and the fight for equality
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Earlier this month, we co-hosted the Brussels premiere of
, a film about female emancipation in the UK starring Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan. The film is directed by Sarah Gavron and is interesting for policy geeks since it is the first film in history to be shot in the UK Houses of Parliament. The film follows the struggles of several women fighting for the right to vote and for greater equality.
Even though we have made great strides in the fight for equality since the 19th century, the film is a reminder that we still have a long way to go. At Google, diversity and equality are big priorities. We think creating product and services for users --all users-- starts with having a workforce that reflects the diversity of people around the world. We’re not there yet, but we’re working on it. That’s why
we publish our data on diversity
it’s hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not
prepared to discuss them openly
, and with the facts.
Overall only 30% of Google’s workforce are women - a reflection of the picture in the tech sector and STEM education overall. We’re
working hard to improve this
, not only for Google but for our communities. We’re empowering Googlers to confront
and to celebrate diversity in their teams. We offer internships to young people interested in pursuing a career in tech and programs encouraging girls to learn how to code.
We do all this because we want to move the needle on equality. With more and more
career opportunities in technology
, the fight for equality means encouraging young girls to study STEM subjects, improving representation of women in government and business and demanding equal pay for equal work. You can find out more about Google’s work on diversity
Posted by: Catherine Williams, Public Affairs Associate Google Brussels
Climate change affects the things we love #OursToLose
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Cross-posted from the
From seasons to octopuses and chocolate, environmental issues stand to impact the things we love. What if we could help change the way people discuss climate change, so that the issue and its consequences could become more relevant and tangible to people around the world?
Leading up to
, a conference which will bring leaders from around the world together to develop a global climate agreement, we’re encouraging the YouTube community to join the discussion by uploading their own videos that share their concerns about how environmental issues may impact the things they love. The conversation on YouTube will live through a simple hashtag: #OursToLose.
With the help of YouTube creators from around the world, including
(New Zealand) and
(Brazil), we’re also encouraging people to
show further support by signing the Avaaz petition
, a campaign aimed at delivering clean energy worldwide by 2050.
Whether you’re questioning how global warming can impact your day-to-day life, curious about new sources of energy, or concerned about the melting Arctic, we hope that you share your ideas through #OursToLose videos to help make the climate conversation more accessible to people around the world.
The YouTube community can empower tremendous collaboration, advocacy, and creativity. Through #OursToLose, we hope to continue helping people to broadcast their message, empower their communities, and even catalyze a global movement to further action on climate change.
Posted by Marc Hertz, Programming Coordinator, and Aaron Taylor, Associate Product Marketing Manager, YouTube. Videos they watched recently include “
Misconceptions about Climate Change
” recently watched “
What’s Possible: The UN Climate Summit Film.
Energy + Environment
From Paris to Berlin: Getting Europe Growing, Digitally
Thursday, November 19, 2015
For us, this year has been all about getting
Europe trained up in terms of digital skills
. The follow-on from that is creating growth when European companies go global. We've been partnering with Politico to host a series of events across the continent exploring the roadmap for Europe's digital growth. Earlier this month we
were in Paris
, and last week
we took the debate to Berlin
, where guests included MEP Eva Paunova, Bundestag member Thomas Jarzombek and Poland's Undersecretary of State for Digital Affairs Jurand Drop.
Alwin Mahler from Google Germany kicked us off with
Deloitte did on the German economy. Businesses using Google services generated up to EUR 30 billion in revenue, and support up to 500,000 jobs - in Germany alone. These aren't just the big names either -- Google has helped the small and midsize firms which make up the Mittelstand, the backbone of the German economy, expand into new markets worldwide.
"Let’s use the famous example of Lederhosen,” Alwin explained -- living near Munich, he knows all about the famous leather shorts. Until recently, many producers would only sell to people from their physical store in the Bavarian region. "Today they can advertise for this product in regions as far as Asia or Australia. Because Asians and Australians like “Lederhosen”, even if they only visit “Oktoberfest” once a year!" Given we hosted the event in the Kulturbrauerei, cheers to that!
It's not just Germany. Another 439,000 jobs in Europe are directly associated with the development of apps, which we support via Android. And that's a global market for European start-ups. A running app developed in Austria,
, has proven a huge hit in markets as distant as Brazil and China.
Then there's “
,” roughly translated as "Growing Worldwide." This export initiative run by Google in partnership with DHL, PayPal and Commerzbank has already helped tens of thousands of German entrepreneurs to expand their horizons.
MEP Eva Paunova in conversation with Politico's Noelle Knox
Back to the European policy agenda. Ms. Paunova said there's a need for legislation to speed up, generally, starting with new legislation to end geoblocking. "For the past year and a half we’ve been saying what we want to see, but still no legislative documents have been passed on the topic,” the member of the Parliament's
Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection
told the audience.
We heard a lot of interesting things and people went home optimistically. As did Alwin Mahler, who said, "literally any European business can reach a global market using the Internet, even allowing a solo entrepreneur to become a multinational company."
Posted by: Mark Jansen, Corporate Communications Google Brussels
Friends Of Europe and Google partner to discuss education and skills
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Computers, the internet and smartphones are integrated into our daily lives in a way that was unthinkable a few years ago. How can we ensure the next generation have the skills necessary for working in this digital world? Tech smarts aren't an optional extra: the European Commission
predicts that by 2020
, there will be nearly 900,000 unfilled jobs in Europe because of the digital skills gap.
Friends of Europe and Google
this week to discuss this urgent issue. In Brussels, we brought together experts from around the world including Esther Wojcicki, Vice Chair of
and author of
‘Moonshots in Education’
, Jos Bertemes, Director at Luxembourg's Ministry of National Education and René Tristan Lydiksen, Managing Director of
Before speaking with educators, we did our homework. We commissioned research by the Economist Intelligence Unit, titled "
Driving The Skills Agenda
," which looks into digital skills levels worldwide. (The report definitely gets an A+ grade). They describe how education systems around the world are changing. We kicked off the discussion with the report's author, Irene Mia, telling us about her findings.
The report draws on data from global surveys of senior business executives, teachers and two groups of students, aged 11 to 17 and 18 to 25 -- and is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of education. For example, 51% of executives say a skills gap is hampering their organisational performance and only 34% claim to be satisfied with the level of attainment of young people entering their company.
The research didn’t only look at general skills, but also at digital skills specifically. Teachers know this is an issue -- 85% of teachers say that technological advances have changed the way they teach, but only 27% claim to be very confident in developing digital literacy in their students. Technology could ultimately level the playing field, by giving students access to tools and teaching from around the world and broadening their horizons.
An overview of the ideas discussed at our event, captured by
Of course, experts and policymakers can discuss these issues for hours -- but what really matters is hearing from young people -- in their own words. That's why we invited
Google Science Fair
European finalists, a global online competition open to young kids interested in science, technology, math and engineering.
Their award-winning projects might one day change the world:
, from the UK, has worked on a molecular-level 'Trojan Horse' which can be used as a sensitive method for earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease. His fellow global finalist,
from Lithuania has been experimenting with how nanoparticles affect nature. And
is developing a lightweight, cheap open-source satellite standard that will be free for anyone to use and develop.
Google Science Fair finalist Krtin Nithiyanandam and other participants using LEGO to make learning fun
Skills for the future is a topic that’s relevant not only to young people. As a digital company with hundreds of millions of users in the EU, Google is
to ensuring Europeans have world-class digital skills. We're working on everything from giving entrepreneurs the tools they need to set up their own business, to
putting Europe's top galleries online
so everyone can enjoy their cultural treasures. And all of
need digital skills -- which is why it's so important the next generation learn them now.
Posted by: Liz Sproat, Google’s Head of Education for Europe, Middle East and Africa
Celebrating Vermeer’s Little Street With Cultural Institute
Thursday, November 19, 2015
The Dutch have always known that Delft is a special city. Now a recent discovery by Frans Grijzenhout, Professor of Art History at the University of Amsterdam, using a unique pairing of seventeenth century records and
Google Street View
technology, has uncovered a new treasure on its streets. A small door, tucked between numbers
40 and 42 on Vlamingstraat
, which marks the alleyway depicted in Johannes
"In my endeavours to pinpoint the exact location of
's Little Street, I have been an avid user of Google Maps, particularly in studying the rythmic articulation of the canal walls along Vlamingstraat,” said Professor Grijzenhout this week.
The discovery of the whereabouts of
is the subject of
19 November 2015 to 13 March 2016
in the Rijksmuseum. It will then transfer to Museum Prinsenhof Delft.
To commemorate this discovery--including the small part that Google Street View technology has played in it--we’re marking
19 November 2015
Day on the Google Cultural Institute. T
will feature 17 works of art by the Dutch master, including Little Street, and the site will feature
a special look
at the present day Little Street in Delft.
The aim of the Google Cultural Institute is twofold, helping users to discover artworks in new ways and helping the cultural sector to make the most of digital opportunities.
We’re thrilled to celebrate the Delft’s own
with our longtime partners at the Rijksmuseum, and to mark the discovery of this little street in that’s been culturally significant--if unknown--since the 17th century.
Posted by Meghan Casserly, Communications Manager Google Netherlands
Young and Digital: Google Signs the European Pact4Youth
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
We’ve said it a lot this year:
every business should be a digital business, because every customer is a digital customer, and that’s a huge economic opportunity. And by extension, that means that everyone coming into the job market should have some digital skills too.
So when we heard about the European Pact4Youth, we were keen to be a part of it.
The agreement is an exciting idea from The European Business Network for Corporate Social Responsibility (
) which aims to help young people across Europe find work. Together with the European Commission, other businesses, social partners, education and training providers all over Europe, we have committed to developing and consolidating partnerships in support of youth employability and inclusion.
We're not the only ones who are excited. "
Our top priority has been to get Europe growing again and to stimulate good quality job creation,"
said Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility.
"It builds on the successful European Alliance for Apprenticeships.... the Commission, together with business, is moving now towards one quarter million new opportunities for young people across Europe."
While we're looking forward to working with our fellow signatories to create jobs for young people in the same way Erasmus has broadened their educational experience, we can't resist telling you about some of the work we're already doing in this area. We're currently in the middle of training up one million Europeans in essential digital skills -- in time for next year. We've committed over €25 million to build a Europe-wide training hub.
And in Spain -- one of the countries worst hit by youth unemployment -- we've developed a series of massive open online courses (MOOCs), Google
, together with the
Spanish Ministry of Industry
, through the business school,
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Interactive Advertising Bureau
(IAB). The news from Spain is encouraging: more than 148,000 people have registered for Activate with 13% of participants earning a certificate.
Another example is Italy, where we have the initiative
Crescere in Digitale
, offering free digital skills online training to the 700,000 young Italians currently not in employment, education or training. This program is run in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and the Chamber of Commerce and will provide 3,000 internships in addition to the training.
Improving Europe's skills in everything from data analytics to web design are a key part of tackling youth unemployment -- and we are excited to support the Pact4Youth.
Posted by: Lie Junius, public policy director, Google Brussels
Tackling Urban Mobility with Technology
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Over half the world’s population live in cities and urban areas, and over the next thirty years,
2 billion more people
are expected to become urban residents. Cities are thinking carefully about the challenges associated with such rapid growth - like avoiding over-stressed public transit infrastructure and reducing traffic congestion. We’re interested in these questions too: we’ve been helping people navigate urban areas and route around traffic jams for many years.
So a while ago, we started working with a small group of research partners in the EU and the US to see if we could tackle some of these challenges together, using aggregate, anonymised data about historical traffic patterns to help improve urban mobility for everyone.
Our initial exploration has lead to a series of pilot projects with our partners to find ways to minimize traffic congestion, speed up journeys, improve safety, and reduce the amount of money spent on infrastructure.
In Stockholm, a city with many bridges and tunnels, we’re working with
KTH Royal Institute of Technology
to reduce the number of tunnel closures on the Södra Länken, the second longest urban motorway tunnel in Europe, to improve travel times for citizens.
In the Netherlands, we’re working with the
Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research
(TNO) to see whether it’s possible to reduce their reliance on expensive physical road sensors for information about traffic flows. The aim is to reduce infrastructure costs without compromising on traffic safety. We’re also working with the
Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions
on related questions.
We’re also working with major research institutions and transportation planning groups in Denmark (the
Technical University of Denmark
) and in the US (the
Rudin Center for Transportation
at New York University Wagner School of Public Service,
San Francisco County Transportation Authority
, and the
University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy
We only share aggregate, anonymized snapshots of historical traffic statistics with these institutions, including average traffic speed, relative traffic volumes, and traffic trajectory patterns. These statistics are derived from aggregate Location History data that our users have proactively chosen to share with us (and which they can switch off again at any time via
). This is the same data we use in Google Now to notify users of
disruptions to their commute
due to traffic, and tell them about the
best time to visit
their favourite museum in Google Maps.
To ensure that no individual user’s journey can be identified, we only share representative models of aggregate data employing a technique called
, which intentionally adds “noise” to the data in a way that maintains both users' privacy and the data's accuracy. The technique has also been successfully
tried and tested
It's still early days, but preliminary results have been positive. In the Netherlands, TNO ran tests on a 10km stretch of highway that regularly faces traffic jams, using our anonymized traffic statistics instead of physical road sensors. They found that they could still accurately detect traffic jams at the right moment and at the correct location on the road without the sensors, potentially saving 50K Euro per year if the redundant sensors were removed. Other pilots are starting to show similarly positive results.
We’re excited by the promise that these initial projects have shown in meeting the challenges of urban mobility, and today, we’re pleased to announce that we’re expanding our pilot programme. We’re seeking to build partnerships with cities and research institutions to evaluate ideas and run experiments, ultimately improving urban mobility for everyone. If you’re working on a project addressing congestion, pollution, safety and similar mobility challenges, and are interested in working with us,
please get in touch
Posted by Andrew Eland, Engineering Director
Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Economic Impact of the Internet
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Google for Entrepreneurs
Power of Data
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State of the Union
Suffragette the movie - and the fight for equality...
Climate change affects the things we love #OursToL...
From Paris to Berlin: Getting Europe Growing, Digi...
Friends Of Europe and Google partner to discuss ed...
Celebrating Vermeer’s Little Street With Cultural ...
Young and Digital: Google Signs the European Pact4...
Tackling Urban Mobility with Technology
Investing In Growth For Dutch Businesses Online
The British Museum: a museum for the world
How good is your YouTube?
Health Matters: Calling Young Professionals to tak...
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