Our views on the Internet and society
Helping refugees access education and information
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Ahmed is an economics student from Aleppo in Syria. Last year he was forced to leave his hometown because of the war that has forced millions of his compatriots out of their country. He left his family and his studies—everything—behind to find a better future in Europe. Now safe in Berlin, his dream is to continue his studies and eventually become a teacher at a university in Germany.
As they make it through a dangerous journey, the first thing refugees need is to find shelter, food and access to care. But soon enough, they have to learn the local language, acquire skills to work in a new country, and figure out a way to continue their studies—all in an effort to reclaim and reconnect with the lives they had before.
Last fall, we
how we’re supporting organizations on the frontline of providing essential humanitarian relief support. But we also wanted to do something to help with refugees’ long-term challenges, such as the need for access to information and education. So today, we’re making a $5.3 million Google.org grant to support the launch of Project Reconnect, a program by
to equip nonprofits working with refugees in Germany with Chromebooks, in order to facilitate easier access to education for refugees like Ahmed.
Chromebooks have proven to be a good fit for education purposes. They can be easily set up to run education or language learning apps. They’re automatically kept up to date with the latest features, apps and virus protection. And they can be configured and managed by a central administrator (in this case the nonprofits) to offer relevant programs, content and materials depending on the situation. For example, they can run an educational game for children, a language course for younger adults or even feature information about the asylum application process on a pre-installed homepage.
Nonprofits can apply today on
. Many organizations and their staff are doing incredible work in very difficult circumstances to help with this crisis. We hope that by supporting these nonprofits, we can help people like Ahmed on the next step of their journey.
Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org
From self-portraits to street art: 1,000 museums at your fingertips
Thursday, January 21, 2016
The history of art is global. Look at Van Gogh—a Dutchman who spent much of his life in France, and was inspired not only by his contemporaries but also by Japanese artists like
. But until recently, the act of enjoying art and culture was limited by geography. Unless you could visit a museum in person, it would be hard for you to appreciate a work, brushstroke by brushstroke. And to fully understand the legacy of someone like Van Gogh, you would have to go from Amsterdam to Chicago to New York to Tokyo to discover and marvel at all of his influences, works and successors.
Left: Van Gogh’s self-portrait (Chicago), right: a street art re-interpretation (Amsterdam)
But with the
Google Cultural Institute
, it’s all just a few clicks away. Five years ago,
the first 17 museums
brought online a few hundred artworks so that anyone in the world could explore paintings, records and artifacts no matter where they were. Today, on our fifth birthday, the Google Cultural Institute has grown to include the collections of more than 1,000 museums and cultural institutions, with over 60 new ones added just today.
Starting today, you can
descend through the famous rotunda of the Guggenheim museum
in New York—a piece of art in itself—thanks to special aerial Street View imagery, or stroll the grand halls of the world’s heaviest building, the
Palace of Parliament in Romania
. View Monet’s famous water lilies
in super-high “gigapixel” resolution
and zoom in to see his layered brushstrokes—then visit
Monsieur Monet’s real-life garden
to see his inspiration.
Street View inside museums
, today’s museums, galleries and theatres are turning to technology to help reach new audiences and inspire them with art and culture. And the possibilities keep expanding with the addition of newer technologies like virtual reality. Just recently we worked with the Dulwich Picture Gallery—England’s oldest public art gallery—to take the young patients of King’s College Hospital in London on a virtual field trip to the museum using Google Cardboard.
Young patients at King’s College Hospital, London, were the first to experience the
Dulwich Picture Gallery
in virtual reality
Virtual visits will never replace the real thing. But technology can help open up art and culture to everyone, and we think that’s a powerful thing. As you browse the Google Cultural Institute’s 6 million objects exploring humanity’s diverse heritage across 70 countries—from this
prehistoric equivalent of the Swiss Army knife
in the Netherlands, to the
Taj Mahal in India
manga drawings in Japan
—we hope you’ll agree.
Posted by Amit Sood, director of the Google Cultural Institute
Google Cultural Institute
The best things come in small (Street View!) packages
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
For those looking to relive their childhood dreams of being a conductor
of their own railway and playing with dollhouses, we have a Street View surprise for you: Hamburg’s famed
, the world’s largest model railway, has come to Google Maps. Boasting 13,000 meters of track and more than 200,000 tiny citizens, the museum includes tiny replicas of a variety of German provinces, famous places in America and even a fully-functioning airport!
Street View cameras have floated on gondolas in
, ridden on camels in the
and soared on snowmobiles on
. But to capture the nooks and crannies in Miniatur Wunderland, we worked with our partner at
to build an entirely new—and much smaller—device. Tiny cameras were mounted on tiny vehicles that were able to drive the roads and over the train tracks, weaving through the Wunderland’s little worlds to capture their hidden treasures.
Touring the marvels of Wunderland, you must first begin in its oldest section: Knuffingen, a fictional town situated squarely between the Alps and Harz. Become one of this tiny city’s 10,000 inhabitants: Stop by the city’s rustic
, witness the
local fire department
spring into action when a building catches fire and even see a plane lift off from Knuffingen’s
Farmers market in Knuffingen, Miniatur Wunderland with the Street View car driving by
You can also see a variety of real places designed with an eye for accuracy: a
in Hamburg’s stadium, a
traditional town center
in central Germany, a rowdy
and a replica of the famous
in Bavaria, and even the
of Austria. You can also glimpse the everyday lives of thousands of miniature citizens, as they
their way around the Wunderland.
Wunderland figurines enjoying a parade in Hamburg
Then it’s a (very) short hop over to the U.S., where you can zoom through the valleys of the
, gambol down the strip in
, and even stop by
to salute past U.S. Presidents. Because we captured this imagery at “street level” within the Wunderland itself, you can observe many tiny details in Street View that are not visible even to visitors to the museum --
deep sea divers
at a county fair, farmers
riding a broomstick
on the steps of the courthouse and the
at an outdoor concert.
See the bright lights in Las Vegas in Miniatur Wunderland
To see more of Miniatur Wunderland, including a
miniature Street View car
built to commemorate this joint project, explore our
Street View gallery
. As you navigate through this truly wonderful Wunderland, we think you’ll agree: when it comes to great views, size doesn’t matter!
Posted by Sven Tresp, Street View Program Manager
100 years on: explore Ireland's Easter Rising with Google
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising in Ireland, we have launched ‘
Dublin Rising 1916-2016
’, an interactive Google Street View tour which lets visitors virtually explore the city streets, events and people that shaped history 100 years ago. We’ve invited the Irish Minister for Arts and Heritage
Heather Humphreys TD
to write a guest post for the Google Europe blog, explaining the partnership.
In 2016 Irish people at home and abroad will mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, when Irish people fought for their right to self governance. The Rising had a transformative impact and is recognised as the catalyst that ultimately led to the modern Ireland we have today.
The Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme includes more than 2,000 events in Ireland and another 1,000 internationally. Throughout we will remember our shared history on the island of Ireland; reflect on our achievements over the last 100 years and look ambitiously to our future.
Dublin Rising 1916-2016
, which has been launched by the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland Enda Kenny, TD, today, Google is using its technologies to creatively enable millions of people around the world to share in Ireland’s 2016 commemorations and learn more about the events of 1916 right from their phone, tablet or computer.
This interactive Google Street View tour will allow visitors to virtually explore the city streets, events and people who shaped history 100 years ago. The tour, which is narrated by actor Colin Farrell, will bring visitors on a virtual tour around the Dublin of today, with the Dublin of 1916 overlaid.
Throughout the tour, visitors can stop at city centre locations in Dublin as they are today, hear what happened there and click to explore photos, videos and witness statements from the people of 1916. As a person stands looking at the General Post Office of today, for example, they’ll be able to see the General Post Office as it was 100 years ago, destroyed by shell fire. They’ll hear witness statements from rebels who fought there and hear the stories of all the different people involved.
President Michael D. Higgins recently said that the centenary offers all of us an opportunity to reflect on events of the past, so that we can build a future that honours the promise of equality and inclusiveness contained in the 1916 Proclamation. I want to thank the Google team, together with the historians and experts from Ireland 2016 and Century Ireland who through
Dublin Rising 1916-2016
have made our history accessible and are providing everyone with the opportunity to remember our past while celebrating our present and looking forward to the future.
You can explore Dublin Rising 1916-2016 here:
Posted by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD
In the Digital Garage, small businesses learn to grow online
Friday, January 8, 2016
The internet has huge potential for small businesses, enabling them to reach new customers located far beyond their home town. Realising that potential requires digital skills, and at Google, we’re
to helping businesses acquire those skills through programmes like the
, which offers free, face-to-face training with local digital experts in five cities across the UK.
But small businesses have countless demands on their time. Every hour away from the coalface costs revenue, so a decision to attend external training needs to pay off. So we designed the Digital Garage programme to be laser-focused on the needs of local small businesses - and to be as practical and easily implemented as possible. We also commissioned IPPR North, a British think tank, to survey participants and find out how we were doing.
In Leeds and Birmingham, home to the first two Digital Garage sites, IPPR North interviewed participants after their first training session, and then reinterviewed them at six and twenty weeks after their initial visit. The results (full report
) were impressive:
88% of participants had made changes to the way they run their businesses online
27% had seen more sales or bookings
32% had seen an increase in customer numbers
49% had seen an increase in website visitor numbers
9% had hired additional staff to manage their digital work
Digital Garage attendees like Jonathon Blackburn help bring these statistics to life. He set up his building and property maintenance company The HouseMan in 2012, and was keen to use the web to reach new customers and expand his business. At the Digital Garage he received training on online advertising and within ten weeks was quoting for five times as much work and had taken on two new members of staff to meet the demand.
The Digital Garage programme doesn’t just benefit entrepreneurs - it also has an effect on the wider local community. In both Leeds and Birmingham, we worked together with local government and business leaders to find easily accessible venues for our Digital Garages that would drive awareness of the scheme. We also wanted to try and create a ripple effect in the community, attracting other businesses to the same location,
as we did at Birmingham city library
- enabling the library to extend its opening hours, to the benefit of the entire community.
In December 2015, we opened our third Digital Garage, in Manchester, and 2016 will see us open more across the UK. IPPR North will continue to evaluate our performance, helping us further increase the impact this project can make to the small businesses, entrepreneurs and future workers of the UK.
Posted by Katie O'Donovan, Public Policy and Government Relations Manager
Supporting Computer Science Education Across Europe
Monday, December 7, 2015
At Google, we’re committed to making sure Europeans have the right digital skills, pledging to train
up to one million Europeans
by the end of 2016. Since 2009, Google’s
Computer Science for High School
(CS4HS) programmes have supported over 20,000 teachers in their efforts to gain confidence in their understanding of computer science (CS) and learn valuable skills for teaching CS to students across the globe.
And starting today,
are now being accepted for the
That is why we are encouraging colleges, universities, and educational non profits from countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa
to apply for an award of up to €15,000.
Computer Science is at the heart of the digital economy in Europe. It is a discipline with a core set of scientific principles that can be applied to solve complex, real-world problems. In today's computing-imbued world, coding is the 'quill' of the 21st century, and knowledge of computer science is essential for the youth of Europe - not just for their future careers, but also to enable them to be active citizens in the digital world.
Despite a growing interest in computer science among young Europeans, recent
by Gallup (commissioned by Google) reveals that work still needs to be done when it comes to supporting teachers in their efforts to understand the critical principles of computer science.
In 2016, we are looking to fund applications that include strong plans for the establishment of new or existing communities of practice (COPs). These communities bring teachers together to encourage and support each other in their learning and ongoing professional development. This focus is grounded in a wide body of research (for example
Joyce & Showers, 2002
Wiske, Stone, & Levinson, 1993
) demonstrating that COPs are a critical element for producing and sustaining innovation in the classroom.
Criteria vary from region to region so please visit the
website to learn more about the
get started on your application
Applications will remain open until midnight (GMT), 15th February, 2016.
community to connect with past CS4HS organizers and learn about HangOuts on Air we’ll be hosting during the application process.
We hope 2016 will provide many opportunities for Google to partner with the CS education community, and to grow and strengthen the CS teacher community around the globe. We hope you’ll be a part of it, and look forward to reviewing your application.
Posted by: Claire Conneely, CS4HS Program Manager, EMEA
Powering the Internet with renewable energy
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Today we're announcing the largest, and most diverse, purchase of renewable energy ever made by a non-utility company. Google has already committed to purchase more renewable energy than any other company. Now, through a series of new wind and solar projects around the world, we’re one step closer to our commitment to
triple our purchases of renewable energy by 2025
and our goal of powering 100% of our operations with clean energy.
842 MW of renewable energy around the world
Today’s agreements will add an additional 842 megawatts of renewable energy capacity to power our data centers. Across three countries, we’re nearly doubling the amount of renewable energy we’ve purchased to date. We’re now up to 2 gigawatts—the equivalent to taking nearly 1 million cars off the road.
These additional 842 megawatts represent a range of locations and technologies, from a wind farm in Sweden to a solar plant in Chile.
These long-term contracts range from 10-20 years and provide projects with the financial certainty and scale necessary to build these wind and solar facilities—thus bringing new renewable energy onto the grid in these regions. For our part, these contracts not only help minimize the environmental impact of our services—they also make good business sense by ensuring good prices.
Our commitment to a sustainable energy future
Since we opened our
very first owned data center
in 2006, we’ve been working to promote renewable and sustainable energy use in several ways:
First, we’re building the world’s most efficient computer infrastructure by
designing our data centers
to use as little energy as possible.
Second, we're driving the renewables industry forward by fully committing to renewable sources. In 2010, we entered our first large-scale
renewable power purchase agreement
with a wind farm in Iowa, and we subsequently
a number of similar large-scale energy purchases over the past five years. Today’s announcement is another milestone in this area.
Third, we've worked with our utility partners to help promote transformation in the utility sector. In 2013 we
created a new program
that enables customers like Google to buy large amounts of renewable energy directly from their utilities. Today's announcement includes the
first solar project enrolled under that program
. And this past summer we announced that our newest data center will be on
located on the site of a retiring coal plant
and will be 100% renewable powered from day one.
Fourth, beyond our efforts to power our own operations with renewables, we’ve made separate agreements to
fund $2.5 billion
into 22 large-scale renewable energy projects over the last five years, from Germany to Kansas to Kenya. These investments have been in some of the largest and most transformative renewable energy projects in the world with a goal to help drive renewable energy development not only as a customer but as an investor, and bring down costs for everyone.
And we’re also working on new technologies and ideas—ranging from
air quality monitoring
—that we hope can make a cleaner energy future an option for many more people.
With world leaders coming together at the
COP21 UN conference on climate change
in Paris this week, there's no better time to focus on renewable energy. We hope that our efforts play a small part in boosting all of us in the race to solve climate change.
Posted by Urs Hölzle, SVP Technical Infrastructure
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Helping refugees access education and information
From self-portraits to street art: 1,000 museums a...
The best things come in small (Street View!) packa...
100 years on: explore Ireland's Easter Rising with...
In the Digital Garage, small businesses learn to g...
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