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Like many people we’ve been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground. Over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service—the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection.

We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet.

We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone there.

Update Feb 1, 12:47 PM: When possible, we're now detecting the approximate (country-level) geographic origin of each call dialing one of our speak2tweet numbers and attaching a hashtag for that country to each tweet. For example, if a call comes from Switzerland, you'll see #switzerland in the tweet, and if one comes from Egypt you'll see #egypt. For calls when we can't detect the location, we default to an #egypt hashtag.

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Google.org continues to ramp up technology projects and test new ideas while Google’s overall charitable giving, in-kind giving and employee volunteering have grown as well. Our newsletter outlines the latest updates to our philanthropic projects. I caught up with Megan Smith, VP New Business Development and General Manager of Google.org, to talk about how Google views philanthropy.

After two years at the helm of Google.org, what are you most optimistic about?
The Internet offers an opportunity to connect in ways never before possible. Things that have historically been far apart are now “virtually adjacent”—most people are a text away, data sets can be mashed up, and all world knowledge is coming online from both expected and surprising sources. Given all of this, I am most excited about all the extraordinary ways people are using the web to connect, be informed, use data and to start solving problems together.

For Google.org specifically, we want to contribute our knowledge and skills to help use technology to address humanity’s greatest challenges. We now have more than 50 engineers and about 40 other cross-functional Googlers working on four or five larger projects—like Google Crisis Response and RE<C—and over a dozen smaller experimental pilot projects.

What kind of project fits this opportunity?
One of our newer projects, Google Earth Engine, takes advantage of Google’s computing infrastructure to create a planetary sciences computation platform that could help reduce negative environmental impact at scale. The first focus is on deforestation monitoring. Earth Engine has just made it through the pilot phase to a full project with its launch last month at climate change talks in Mexico. If we meet our goals to enable global-scale monitoring of changes in the planet’s environment, I believe that Earth Engine could play an important information role in helping to slow deforestation.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since joining Google.org?
Two things: first, the opportunity we have is great; and second, the work has served as a reminder that creating truly useful, innovative technology is challenging and requires patient iteration, dialog, teamwork and creativity. It takes time to gather new ideas, learn from the right partners, collaborate, pilot those ideas that pass initial assessment and then launch for scale the few projects that meet the criteria for a Google.org product.

Do Google.org projects have a specific focus?
We don’t have a topical focus—we work on technology solutions to many different kinds of global challenges. The key is to take advantage of Google’s strengths. In the area of global health, for example, we have been able to create a global flu monitoring system based on search data. For our environmental work, we were able to leverage our data center computing power to put together the finest-scale forest map of Mexico to date (processing this data would take two years on one computer, but we made it in less than 24 hours using our computing infrastructure).

How does Google.org start and ramp up its technology projects?
We work to tap into the talent at Google. Some projects have come out of hallway conversations and others from extensive talks with partners in the field. Formally, we have a bimonthly new initiatives meeting with senior engineers where talented individuals or teams within Google bring ideas or prototypes. If we think the idea is a match and has promise, we give it budget, headcount, guidance and time to see where it can go during a pilot period. Once we have a live pilot or project, we take advantage of Google.com’s standard project review and management processes that our company has effectively used for years.

What if those pilots fail?
That’s normal. We should expect that some of them will fail or will only have smaller impact. If you’re not failing some of the time, you’re not taking risks. As we progress, some of our failures will hopefully teach us as much as some of our successes.

What other charitable giving does Google do?
As a company that has been doing well, it’s important that we push ourselves to be amongst the most generous companies. We have several charitable giving programs supporting, for example, education (especially K-12 science and math programs), university research, communities where we work, and technology solutions for underserved groups. Last year the company gave more than $145 million to non-profits and academic institutions, and more than $184 million when including Google Grants, Google.org technology projects and in-kind product support for non-profits.

How is this philanthropic work different from that of other companies?
Like other companies, we have charitable giving programs, we provide products in-kind and we have a range of employee volunteering programs. Some companies like ours may also have experiments like Google.org to leverage their strengths—a form of skills-based giving. However, many companies do amazing charitable work through a centralized Corporate Social Responsibility arm that tackles a key issue or two. We approach philanthropy the way we do our core business, with big goals and a “launch early and iterate” approach. Ideas come from all over the company and we work to tackle a range of issues we care about, from clean energy to education to development. It may not be as clean as the process that some others have, but we think this is how we can have the most impact.

We remain determined, as our founders said when they set the vision for Google.org, "to find original ways to extend our assets, so that we can drive scalable, sustainable efforts. ...the underlying principle: Never stop looking for ways to do the best with what you have."

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This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Over the last couple of weeks, we added ways to keep up with new messages in Gmail and printing capabilities from Gmail mobile and mobile documents, and announced a partnership with Verizon to make it easier for millions more businesses to start using Google Apps.

Desktop notifications for Gmail
When people switch to web-based email, sometimes they miss seeing desktop alerts when new mail is waiting to be read. In the past, Gmail required a helper application to show alerts, but on Wednesday we made it so Gmail can display desktop notifications for new email and chat messages with nothing more than a browser. If you use Google Chrome, you can enable desktop notifications in the Gmail settings panel.


Search-as-you-type for Gmail Labs
Gmail Labs is a testing ground where you can try out new features and provide feedback on your experiences. As the list of Labs has grown to more than 50 options, we wanted to make it easier to find features you’re interested in, so we introduced search-as-you-type on the Labs page. With just a few keystrokes, you can pinpoint just what you’re looking for—no more scrolling down a long list of options to find what you want.


Unread message icon in Gmail Labs
The Gmail tab in your browser displays how many unread messages you have, but if you have lots of tabs open or use pinned tabs in Google Chrome, the Gmail browser tab is too small for you to see the count of unread messages. On Tuesday we added a new Lab that shows your unread message count in the browser tab icon, so you can always see at a glance how many new messages you have. Visit the Gmail Labs settings page and type “unread” in the new search box to find and try this feature.


Cloud Print for Gmail and Docs
Printing is sometimes tricky even when you’re in the same room as your printer, not to mention when you want to print on a remote printer or from a mobile device. Last year we introduced Cloud Print to make printing easier from any device to any Cloud Print-enabled printer, without the need for any special software. On Monday we added support for Cloud Print to Gmail mobile and mobile documents, so now you can print messages and documents directly from your phone or tablet to your Cloud Print-enabled printer.


Education category in the Google Apps Marketplace
Businesses, schools and organizations can shop for third-party applications, features and services that complement Google Apps in the Marketplace, and over the last few months we’ve seen a surge in listings geared for schools and universities. To make it easier for schools to link up with great partners in their field, we added a dedicated category for educational listings. There you’ll find powerful add-ins from LearnBoost, Grockit, Aviary and many other education software providers.


Who’s gone Google?
More than 3 million businesses, plus many more schools, non-profits and government agencies have switched to Google Apps over the last few years, and we’re looking forward to helping the next wave of customers get started. To that end, we’re thrilled to have Verizon as our newest partner. Verizon will provide Google Apps to many of their small business broadband customers, making it possible for businesses to obtain a more complete set of small business IT services from a single provider. Welcome to Google Apps!

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.

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This is part of a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs on Fridays. Look for the label "This week in search" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

With freezing conditions on the East Coast this season, many people are thinking about weather. One of our favorite Google tricks is to simply type [weather] and get the forecast, personalized for your location, immediately at the top. With Google Instant, this trick gets even better because you only need to type [w]—we’ll do the rest. This week we rolled out a couple new weather search features to help you plan your next ski trip or figure out when to sneak outside between blizzards.

Live results for snow conditions
As ski season hits high gear, we’ve partnered with OnTheSnow.com and SkiReport.com to provide you up-to-date snow condition information right on the search results page. Just search for your favorite ski resort and you’ll see the current snow depth, latest snow falls, terrain conditions and the overall availability of the resort. The results also include links to more detailed information such as photos, weather forecasts and reviews.

The new weather live results appear in snippets for onthesnow.com and skireport.com

Example searches: [squaw valley], [wisp ski]

Interactive, precise weather results for mobile
Sometimes when you’re planning your day, you only need a couple hours of sunshine for a jog or a hike through the park. The seven-day forecast is great, but what you really want to know is if it will be sunny exactly when you’re thinking of heading outside. So earlier this week we introduced a new search result for weather on iPhone and Android-powered devices. The new format enables you to interact with the results and see the forecast for any specific time over a 12-hour period.

The new weather results are available on google.com in English. Simply search for the weather

That’s all for this week. Check the forecast and hopefully soon you can stop reading tech blogs and head outside!

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(Cross-posted on the Public Policy Blog)

It’s become a welcome tradition: Today is the fourth annual Data Privacy Day. Dozens of countries have been celebrating with events throughout the week to inform and educate us all about our personal data rights and protections.

This is the first year I’ve marked this day as director of privacy across both engineering and product management at Google. I’ve chosen to spend the day in Washington, D.C., where there’s a been a lot of robust and productive discussion lately. People from Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Commerce, and industry and consumer groups have been contributing to these important conversations about how to best protect people’s data, and we’re happy to be participating too. I’m doing my part by bringing my geek sensibilities into a public discussion that we’re hosting today. In fact, that’s what we’re calling it: “The Technology of Privacy: When Geeks Meet Wonks.” I’ll be joined on the panel by technologists from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. If you can’t attend in person, don’t worry—we’ll be uploading a video of the event later in the day on our Public Policy blog and you’ll also be able to see it on the Google Privacy Channel on YouTube.

On this Data Privacy Day, a major focus for Google is on creating ways for people to manage and protect their data. We’ve built tools like the Google Dashboard, the Ads Preferences Manager and encrypted search, and we’re always working on further ideas for providing transparency, control and security to empower our users. For example, earlier this week we launched an extension for Chrome users called Keep My Opt-Outs, which enables you to opt out permanently from ad tracking cookies. And pretty soon we’ll be extending the availability of 2-step verification, an advanced account security solution that is now helping protect more than 1,000 new accounts a day from common problems like phishing and password compromise. Right now it’s available to Google Apps Accounts; we’ll be offering it to all users in the next few weeks.

Data Privacy Day 2011 reminds us that as industry and society are busy moving forward, we face new challenges that together we can tackle through conversation and innovation. We’re eager to be part of the solution.

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(Cross-posted on the Google.org Blog)

In honor of the UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day tomorrow, we’re partnering with Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem-based center for remembering the Holocaust's victims and survivors, to bring their collections of photographs and documents to the web.

On a trip to Jerusalem three years ago, Jonathan Rosenberg visited Yad Vashem. Struck by the museum's vast historical record housed within the physical building, he hoped Google could do something powerful to showcase this information. Inspired by the challenge, a few of us, in our “20% time,” started working with Yad Vashem and eventually grew our effort into a full project, introducing a YouTube channel in 2008 and now this collections site.

Within the archive you will find more than 130,000 images in full resolution. You can search for them via a custom search engine on Yad Vashem’s collections site. And by using experimental optical character recognition (OCR), we’ve transcribed the text on many images, making them even more discoverable on the web. This means that if you search for the name of a family member who was in the Holocaust, you might find a link to an image on the Yad Vashem site.

To experience the new archive features yourself, try searching for the term [rena weiser], the name of a Jewish refugee. You’ll find a link to a visa issued to her by the Consulate of Chile in France. OCR technology made this picture discoverable to those searching for her.

Yad Vashem encourages you to add personal stories about images that have meaning for you in the “share your thoughts” section below each item. Doron Avni, a fellow Googler, has already added a story. He found a photograph of his grandfather taken immediately after his release from a Nazi prison. His grandfather had vowed that if he should survive, he would immediately have his picture taken to preserve the memory of his experience in the Holocaust. He stitched the photo into his coat, an act that later saved his life. After hiding in the forest for a year, Russian soldiers mistook him for a German enemy, but released him once they saw this picture.

Doron’s grandfather

The Yad Vashem partnership is part of our larger effort to bring important cultural and historical collections online. We’ve been involved in similar projects in the past including digitizing major libraries in Europe, collections at the Prado Museum in Madrid, and the LIFE photo archive. We encourage organizations interested in partnering with us in our archiving efforts to enter their information in this form.

We’re proud to be launching this significant archive that will allow people to discover images that are part of their heritage, and will aid people worldwide researching the Holocaust.

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2010 was a huge year for Google. Many of our big bets—on mobile, display advertising, the cloud and more—really started to pay off. Amazingly, Android now runs on over 100 devices with more than 300,000 activations each day. Chrome has at least 120 million active users and it’s growing quickly. Last year more than 1 million businesses switched to Google Apps and embraced its 100% web approach. And we’ve made search faster than ever, even when you’re on the go.

But it wasn’t just a growth year for our products—the company grew as well. In 2010 we added more than 4,500 Googlers, primarily in engineering and sales: second only to 2007 when we added over 6,000 people to Google.

I love Google because of our people. It's inspiring to be part of the team. And that's why I am excited about 2011—because it will be our biggest hiring year in company history. We’re looking for top talent—across the board and around the globe—and we’ll hire as many smart, creative people as we can to tackle some of the toughest challenges in computer science: like building a web-based operating system from scratch, instantly searching an index of more than 100 million gigabytes and even developing cars that drive themselves. There’s something at Google for everyone—from geo, to enterprise, to video—with most of the work done in small teams, effectively working as start-ups. (The average number of software engineers on a project at Google is 3.5.) That’s why the vast majority of our people stay with us, building their careers and taking on new challenges within the company.

I joined Google more than eight years ago—when we had barely 500 employees and still used Outlook for email and AIM for chat—and while there have been many changes, Google is still the same entrepreneurial company it was when I started, encouraging Googlers to take on big ideas and high-risk, high-reward opportunities.

If you think you want to join the team, check out google.com/jobs.

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(Cross-posted from the Google Voice Blog)

867-5309 could be one of the most iconic phone numbers of all time—but it’s not the only number that a lot of us remember by heart. Many of us have a phone number that we've shared with family, friends and contacts over the years and are reluctant to let go.

One of the most frequent requests we hear from people who use (or want to use) Google Voice is that they’d like to get all of Google Voice’s features without having to give up their long-time phone numbers.

Today, we’re excited to announce that Number Porting is available for all existing Google Voice users. This means you can make the mobile number you’ve always used your Google Voice number, so it can ring any phone you want—or even your computer.



To get started with Number Porting, log in to your Google Voice account, visit the Settings page and click on “Change / Port” next to your Google Voice number.


Porting your number to Google Voice costs $20 and is usually completed within 24 hours. You may incur additional charges, including early termination fees, from your wireless carrier. Contact your carrier to get more details about the charges applicable to you.

After porting your number to Google Voice your mobile service plan will be cancelled, and there are a couple of steps that you’ll have to take to continue making and receiving calls on your mobile device. For more detailed instructions on how Number Porting works and to find tips for making the process as smooth as possible, visit the Google Voice Help Center.

Number Porting is currently available for existing Google Voice users and will become available to new users within the next few weeks, and at this time, Google Voice is available in the U.S. only.

Update 2:35PM: Included more details about the porting process.

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Today we’re launching a new education category in the Google Apps Marketplace to help schools and universities easily discover and deploy new web applications that integrate with their existing Google Apps accounts.

This new education category will make it easier for schools to have more web apps at their fingertips, including popular existing apps such as Aviary, Grockit and LearnBoost as well as the new apps launching today.

The new Apps Marketplace education category includes more than 20 applications from 19 vendors. These include web-based learning management systems (LMS) such as Haiku, student tools such as Digication for e-Portfolios, and learning platforms such as DreamBox learning games and BrainPOP educational content, all of which integrate with Google Apps through single sign-on and access through the Google universal navigation bar.

Thousands of universities, colleges and K-12 schools around the world with more than 10 million users already deploy Google Apps in their classrooms. The applications we're introducing today are just the beginning of making Apps and the Marketplace more vibrant and helpful for schools, and more web applications—by Blackboard, Knewton and Khan Academy—are already on the way. We look forward to further expanding and strengthening our set of education tools going forward.



On Wednesday, February 2, we’re holding live Google webinars and Q&A so you can learn more about the education category and hear directly from the developers of these applications.
Manage your school in the cloud with the Google Apps Marketplace
Featuring classroom management tools Haiku and LearnBoost
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
10:00 a.m. PST / 1:00 p.m. EST
Register here

Help students learn more effectively with the Google Apps Marketplace
Featuring web-based learning tools Grockit, BrainPOP and DreamBox
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
4:00 p.m. PST / 7:00 p.m. EST
Register here

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(Cross-posted from the Google Small Business Blog)

To kick off 2011, we wanted to thank a few small businesses for taking the first step toward enhancing their online presence—and to provide additional resources for achieving this goal. So over the holiday season, we paid a surprise visit to five small businesses who recently started advertising their businesses online: Create A Cook and Twinkle Star in Massachusetts, Ramy’s Garage and Atlas Flooring in Texas, and Cloud 9 Frozen Yogurt in Georgia. These small businesses span several industries, but their founders share one common goal: to expand beyond their brick-and-mortar storefronts and into the world of e-commerce.

To help, we gave them each of them $100,000 in AdWords spend for 2011 as well as free consultations with AdWords representatives. Because we know online presence means more than just AdWords, we’ll also be providing them with web consultations, wireless service for the year as well as a few other little surprises. See footage from our surprise visit below:



We’re looking forward to making big investments in small businesses far beyond these lucky five. Small businesses have long benefited from Google products and services; now our hope is that all small business owners can have greater access to the tools and training they need to develop a cohesive strategy for doing more business online. We started last year by creating the Google Small Business Center and asking small business owners about their biggest wishes for 2011. We received an overwhelming response from business owners who, like the owners of these shops, want to do more business in the clouds in 2011.


We’re thrilled to help these five small business owners find online success in 2011 and we think we have a lot to learn from their experiences. We’ll check in on them from time to time and report on their successes as well as their growing pains.

In the meantime, check the Google Small Business Blog for updates, and if you’re a business owner, visit the Google Small Business Center for information on how you can bring your business online in 2011.

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(Cross-posted from the YouTube Blog)

It’s the biggest speech of the year, and next Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET, people across the country and around the world will sit down to watch. But as President Obama delivers the 2011 State of the Union Address, which will be streamed live on YouTube along with the Republican response, you can do more than just watch the speech: you can also submit your questions for the President for an exclusive YouTube Interview that will take place just two days later, on January 27.

In fact, you can get started today. Health care. Education. Foreign policy. What would you like to ask the President about the most important issues our country faces? Go to youtube.com/askobama to submit your question now, or watch the speech on Tuesday night with your webcam or video camera nearby so that you can record and submit your question as soon as it strikes you. This year, you'll also be able to ask your question via Twitter: just include the hashtag #askobama in your tweet. And be sure to have your say in what should be asked by voting on questions submitted by others, too.



A few suggestions before submitting your questions:
  1. Video questions are highly preferred (though we also accept text). Videos should be about 20 seconds long and be sure to ask the question directly.
  2. Speak clearly and try to film in a place with minimal background noise. Keep the camera as still as possible.
  3. Feel free to be creative (use props, charts, etc.) to help your question stand out. If you have time, find an interesting backdrop that may help reinforce your message.
  4. Submit your question early. The final deadline is Wednesday January 25 at midnight ET.
President Obama’s responses to a selection of your top-voted questions will be streamed live from the White House on youtube.com/askobama at 2:30 p.m. ET on Thursday January 27.

This interview is the first in a series of world leader interviews coming to YouTube in 2011 as part of YouTube World View. These interviews will give people around the world the chance to engage in conversation with their elected officials and other influential people from the world of business, philanthropy, technology, media and the arts. Check back on the channel in the next few months for more opportunities to participate.

You have until Wednesday, January 25 at midnight ET to submit your question for President Obama. The YouTube community made history last year when the President answered your questions in the first ever citizen-powered interview of a United States president. If you didn’t get an opportunity to ask the President a question last year, make sure you don’t miss out this time—get your submission in early.

Remember, after the President’s address you’ll have the opportunity to watch Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) deliver the GOP response to the State of the Union as well. And within the month, we’ll be holding a similar YouTube Interview with a prominent Republican leader—more details soon.

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January brought a spate of stories about Google’s search quality. Reading through some of these recent articles, you might ask whether our search quality has gotten worse. The short answer is that according to the evaluation metrics that we’ve refined over more than a decade, Google’s search quality is better than it has ever been in terms of relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness. Today, English-language spam in Google’s results is less than half what it was five years ago, and spam in most other languages is even lower than in English. However, we have seen a slight uptick of spam in recent months, and while we’ve already made progress, we have new efforts underway to continue to improve our search quality.

Just as a reminder, webspam is junk you see in search results when websites try to cheat their way into higher positions in search results or otherwise violate search engine quality guidelines. A decade ago, the spam situation was so bad that search engines would regularly return off-topic webspam for many different searches. For the most part, Google has successfully beaten back that type of “pure webspam”—even while some spammers resort to sneakier or even illegal tactics such as hacking websites.

As we’ve increased both our size and freshness in recent months, we’ve naturally indexed a lot of good content and some spam as well. To respond to that challenge, we recently launched a redesigned document-level classifier that makes it harder for spammy on-page content to rank highly. The new classifier is better at detecting spam on individual web pages, e.g., repeated spammy words—the sort of phrases you tend to see in junky, automated, self-promoting blog comments. We’ve also radically improved our ability to detect hacked sites, which were a major source of spam in 2010. And we’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content. We’ll continue to explore ways to reduce spam, including new ways for users to give more explicit feedback about spammy and low-quality sites.

As “pure webspam” has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, we launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites. Nonetheless, we hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content. We take pride in Google search and strive to make each and every search perfect. The fact is that we’re not perfect, and combined with users’ skyrocketing expectations of Google, these imperfections get magnified in perception. However, we can and should do better.

One misconception that we’ve seen in the last few weeks is the idea that Google doesn’t take as strong action on spammy content in our index if those sites are serving Google ads. To be crystal clear:
  • Google absolutely takes action on sites that violate our quality guidelines regardless of whether they have ads powered by Google;
  • Displaying Google ads does not help a site’s rankings in Google; and
  • Buying Google ads does not increase a site’s rankings in Google’s search results.
These principles have always applied, but it’s important to affirm they still hold true.

People care enough about Google to tell us—sometimes passionately—what they want to see improved. We deeply appreciate this feedback. Combined with our own scientific evaluations, user feedback allows us to explore every opportunity for possible improvements. Please tell us how we can do a better job, and we’ll continue to work towards a better Google.

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Recent statistics have shown a decline in the number of U.S. students taking computer science AP classes, which also leads to a decline in students declaring computer science as their majors—a concerning trend in the U.S. as we try to remain competitive in the global economy. With programs like Computer Science for High School (CS4HS), we hope to increase the number of CS majors —and therefore the number of people entering into careers in CS—by promoting computer science curriculum at the high school level.

For the fourth consecutive year, we’re funding CS4HS to invest in the next generation of computer scientists and engineers. CS4HS is a workshop for high school and middle school computer science teachers that introduces new and emerging concepts in computing and provides tips, tools and guidance on how to teach them. The ultimate goals are to “train the trainer,” develop a thriving community of high school CS teachers and spread the word about the awe and beauty of computing.

In 2011 we’re expanding the program considerably and hope to double the number of schools we funded in 2010. If you’re a university, community college, or technical School in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Middle East or Africa and are interested in hosting a workshop at your institution, please visit www.cs4hs.com to submit an application for grant funding. Applications will be accepted between January 18, 2011 and February 18, 2011.

In addition to submitting your application, on the CS4HS website you’ll find info on how to organize a workshop, as well as websites and agendas from last year’s participants to give you an idea of how the workshops were structured in the past. There’s also a collection of CS4HS curriculum modules that previous participating schools have shared for future organizers to use in their own program.

Previous organizers have told us that teachers have left their workshops excited about the new materials they learned and the innovative ideas they’ve discussed with other teachers. We’re hopeful that they’ll pass on to their students not only the skills that they learned but also that passion.

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When I joined Google in 2001 I never imagined—even in my wildest dreams—that we would get as far, as fast as we have today. Search has quite literally changed people’s lives—increasing the collective sum of the world’s knowledge and revolutionizing advertising in the process. And our emerging businesses—display, Android, YouTube and Chrome—are on fire. Of course, like any successful organization we’ve had our fair share of good luck, but the entire team—now over 24,000 Googlers globally—deserves most of the credit.

And as our results today show, the outlook is bright. But as Google has grown, managing the business has become more complicated. So Larry, Sergey and I have been talking for a long time about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making—and over the holidays we decided now was the right moment to make some changes to the way we are structured.

For the last 10 years, we have all been equally involved in making decisions. This triumvirate approach has real benefits in terms of shared wisdom, and we will continue to discuss the big decisions among the three of us. But we have also agreed to clarify our individual roles so there’s clear responsibility and accountability at the top of the company.

Larry will now lead product development and technology strategy, his greatest strengths, and starting from April 4 he will take charge of our day-to-day operations as Google’s Chief Executive Officer. In this new role I know he will merge Google’s technology and business vision brilliantly. I am enormously proud of my last decade as CEO, and I am certain that the next 10 years under Larry will be even better! Larry, in my clear opinion, is ready to lead.

Sergey has decided to devote his time and energy to strategic projects, in particular working on new products. His title will be Co-Founder. He’s an innovator and entrepreneur to the core, and this role suits him perfectly.

As Executive Chairman, I will focus wherever I can add the greatest value: externally, on the deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership that are increasingly important given Google’s global reach; and internally as an advisor to Larry and Sergey.

From left to right - Eric, Larry and Sergey in a self-driving car in a photo taken earlier today

We are confident that this focus will serve Google and our users well in the future. Larry, Sergey and I have worked exceptionally closely together for over a decade—and we anticipate working together for a long time to come. As friends, co-workers and computer scientists we have a lot in common, most important of all a profound belief in the potential for technology to make the world a better place. We love Google—our people, our products and most of all the opportunity we have to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

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This is the latest in our series of YouTube highlights. Every couple of weeks, we bring you regular updates on new product features, interesting programs to watch and tips you can use to grow your audience on YouTube. Just look for the label “YouTube Highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

Since our last update, we’ve featured new music programs, brought you closer to what’s going on in government and highlighted some of the best ads of 2010.

Music videos now on YouTube app for Android
We’ve welcomed VEVO’s extensive library of official music videos from artists like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Kanye West and U2 onto the YouTube 2.0 app for Android, available for mobile phones running Android 2.2 (Froyo). Enjoy!

Broken Social Scene goes live on YouTube
Earlier this week, Canada’s indie rock collective Broken Social Scene kicked off their Winter 2011 tour with a live performance at NYC’s Terminal 5. You can still catch the show on http://www.youtube.com/bowerypresents.



Your window into the 112th U.S. Congress
John Boehner, the new Speaker of the United States House, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa are making the activities of the House of Representatives more accessible to U.S. citizens via YouTube. Starting in this 112th Congress, all committee hearings of the House Oversight committee will be available on YouTube, on a new channel called HouseResourceOrg. This was made possible via a Google Project 10^100 grant made to Carl Malamud at PublicResource.org, who will be working with the House to access and upload all of the hearings that the Oversight Committee holds.

Meet the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011
The new members of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 have been selected: 101 people from more than 30 countries around the world are heading to Sydney Opera House to rehearse together for the first time under the conductorship of Michael Tilson Thomas. Come meet the winners and stay tuned for the final performance on Sunday, March 20, which will be streamed live to the world on YouTube.

A sneak peek at “Life in a Day”
In anticipation of the world premiere of “Life in a Day,” at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival next week, we’re releasing a series of clips between now and then. Life in a Day is a documentary film directed by Oscar-winner Kevin Macdonald, produced by Ridley Scott, and filmed on July 24, 2010 by thousands of YouTube users around the world. Watch the first teaser below.



Looking back at the best YouTube ads of 2010
2010 was a breakout year for online video advertising. Earning people’s attention has become ever more challenging—but that’s only making advertising more fun. Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” was ranked number one among YouTube ads in an informal poll of the YouTube advertising team and reporters in the industry. Find out what other ads topped last year’s list.



Until next time, visit the YouTube Blog for news and updates.

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Cross-posted on the Google Student Blog

Today, I’m pleased to announce the launch of the fourth annual Doodle 4 Google contest. Open to K-12 students in the U.S., Doodle 4 Google is an opportunity of a lifetime: design the Google.com homepage doodle for millions to see, and while you’re at it, take home a $15,000 scholarship and a $25,000 technology grant for your school.

In the spirit of thinking big, our theme this year is “What I’d like to do someday...”—giving all of the talented young dreamers an opportunity to flex their creative muscles. We know this crop of students will be the generation of tomorrow’s leaders and inventors, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with.

While most of this year's contest remains the same, we’ve made some exciting changes based on your feedback. Now, parents or guardians can register their students directly, and if a school registers, there’s no limit on the number of doodles they can submit. But remember, we only allow one entry per student. We’re also pleased to partner with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Girl Scouts of the USA, two organizations that truly bring this year’s theme to life.

Once you’ve registered your students and they submit their artwork, Google employees and our panel of guest judges, including Whoopi Goldberg, gold medal ice skater Evan Lysacek and “Garfield” creator Jim Davis, will narrow down the submissions. The top 40 regional finalists will not only receive a trip to New York City and a visit from Google in their hometown, but their artwork will be featured in a special exhibition in partnership with the Whitney Museum of American Art.

For more details, check out google.com/doodle4google, including full contest rules. To get started, whether you’re a teacher or a parent, register your student(s) by March 2, 2011. Then get out the crayons, paints and markers—you can even throw your own doodle party. Please note that all entries must be postmarked by March 16, 2011.

Happy doodling!

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During the protests that erupted in Iran following the disputed Presidential election in June 2009, the central government in Tehran deported all foreign journalists, shut down traditional media outlets, closed off print journalism and disrupted cell phone lines. The government also infiltrated networks, posing as activists and using false identities to round up dissidents. In spite of this, the sharing of information using the Internet prevailed. YouTube and Twitter were cited by journalists, activists and bloggers as the best source for firsthand accounts and on-the-scene footage of the protests and violence across the country. At the time, though, U.S. export controls and sanctions programs prohibited software downloads to Iran.

Some of those export restrictions have now been lifted and today, for the first time, we’re making Google Earth, Picasa and Chrome available for download in Iran. We’re committed to full compliance with U.S. export controls and sanctions programs and, as a condition of our export licenses from the Treasury Department, we will continue to block IP addresses associated with the Iranian government.

Our products are specifically designed to help people create, communicate, share opinions and find information. And we believe that more available products means more choice, more freedom, and ultimately more power for individuals in Iran and across the globe.

Update Feb 28, 2012: In addition to the products above, we also recently made Chrome extensions available for download in Iran.

Update Jan 16, 2013: In addition to the products above, we’re now making the Google Earth plug-in available for download in Iran. This plug-in enables people to navigate and explore geographic data on a 3D globe using a web browser.

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With 2011 now underway, we thought it was the perfect time to revisit a big topic from 2010, the DoubleClick Ad Exchange, and take a fresh look at its contribution to the display advertising ecosystem. And we have some new findings to share: a recent analysis that we’ve undertaken shows just how significantly the Exchange is improving advertising revenues for major web publishers.

We unveiled the new Ad Exchange in late 2009 in North America and Europe, as an open, real-time auction marketplace for display ad space—i.e., the image-based, interactive or video ad formats you see on most sites. The Exchange brings together ad networks, agency trading desks and demand side platforms on one side, and major online publishers on the other, to buy and sell display ad space in real time, allowing advertisers to reach the right ad to the right consumer at the right time and enabling publishers to connect with the advertisers most interested in what they’re offering. Our goal was to grow the overall display advertising pie, so that publishers could benefit from higher ad revenues that fund their investments in the online content and services that we all read and use every day.

With a full year under our belt, we’re happy to see that the Ad Exchange has proven itself so useful for so many participants. As of today, there are hundreds of premium publishers making ad space available, in addition to the many niche publishers that participate in Ad Exchange through the AdSense program. The number of transactions that occur every day has tripled. And the Ad Exchange is now becoming available in new countries.

To see how what kind of effect the growth of the Exchange was having on its participants, we undertook an analysis that quantified the Exchange’s impact on participating publishers’ bottom lines. Today, we’re publishing a white paper that shows that when publishers make ad space available in the Ad Exchange, and the Exchange wins the auction, publishers generate, on average, 188% more revenue compared with indirect sales to ad networks and other third-party buyers. Over millions of impressions, this can make a huge difference to publishers’ advertising revenues, which is great for the web as a whole.

This 188% increase is a result of two key trends that we’re seeing:
  • Demand for publishers’ inventory is increasing as more AdWords and Google Display Network advertisers start running display campaigns, get great results and invest further. For example, display advertising spend among Google’s largest 1,000 advertisers increased 75% in the past year. Agency trading desks and new third-party technology providers are also running more display ads through the Ad Exchange. And real-time bidding—which enables advertisers to tailor their bids and ads in real time to buy the ad space they value the most—continues to be a major draw, now accounting for 56% of buyers’ spend.

  • We’re seeing publishers increasingly leverage the Ad Exchange’s “dynamic allocation” to sell their inventory. Via dynamic allocation, the Exchange compares—in real time—the value of the highest-paying ad in the Ad Exchange with any ads from other sources (such as ad network deals) and chooses the highest paying one. The Ad Exchange only serves ads when it can offer a higher price for ad space. Of course, publishers are in complete control of which networks they allow to bid, what ads can appear on their sites and which ad space they make available.
Our goal is to make the Ad Exchange a complete solution for major publishers to maximize their ad revenue across thousands of buyers, networks and agencies. We also want to put publishers even more firmly in control of what types of ads appear on their site, enabling them to build and protect their brand, and find new advertising opportunities.

2010 was a huge growth year for the Ad Exchange, and the increased volume has made it a more vibrant ecosystem for buyers and sellers. We’ll continue our work to ensure that the Ad Exchange delivers ever-improving returns and controls for publishers, so that more participants can benefit from the huge growth taking place in display advertising in 2011 and beyond.

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This is part of a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs on Fridays. Look for the label "This week in search" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

We’re back in action after a lovely holiday season, and this week we’ve made a few changes to help you find music videos and refine your searches. We also announced World IPv6 Day, which will help ensure Google can continue giving you fast, relevant search results for generations to come.

Better results for music videos
People often come to Google to find music videos, and this week we improved our results so now when you’re searching for your favorite band or album, you’ll find popular clips organized in a new way. For example, search for [michael jackson] and you’ll find some of the King of Pop’s most famous videos, including clear text indicating the length of the video, the album and the year it was published. The feature scans the entire web for video content and algorithmically ranks the best sources for each song. Rather than return repetitive links, we group results for the same song together, making it easier to scan and choose the song you’re looking for. Try searching for [green day], [maroon 5] or [beyonce] (for one of the best videos of all time!).


Google’s left-hand panel in Arabic, Farsi and Hebrew
This week we expanded Google’s panel of search tools to Arabic, Farsi and Hebrew, enabling people who read right-to-left languages to access a dynamic set of search tools. Now Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew speaking users can refine their searches by content type (Images, Videos, News) or date, and easily access special views like the Wonder Wheel and Timeline. We can’t call it the “left-hand panel” of search tools, because the panel is actually on the right!


World IPv6 Day
The Internet is bursting at the seams with limited address space, and IPv6 is the best solution to the problem. We have offered search over IPv6 since early 2008, but today only 0.2% of Internet users have native IPv6 connectivity. So on Wednesday, we came together with the Internet Society and other major websites to announce World IPv6 Day, the first global trial for the next generation Internet protocol. On June 8, 2011, Google and other companies will enable IPv6 on their services (including Google Search) for IPv6 for 24 hours. The trial will help motivate companies across the industry to prepare for the transition and ensure Google and the web as we know it can continue to thrive.

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After years of challenges, the news out of Detroit this week has automobile industry experts hopeful for a strong 2011. The 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit kicked off this week and as the world’s attention is on the Motor City, we thought it was time to take a closer look at what consumers are most interested in as it applies to cars and trucks.

Google’s North American Auto Team, headquartered out of Detroit with teams in NYC and California, works with auto makers, parts suppliers and agencies across the country to help market their latest and greatest. Like everyone else, we’re hopeful for a continued recovery across the industry and continue to be impressed by our clients’ creativity and innovation. NADA’s (National Automobile Dealers Association) chief economist Paul Taylor put it best when he recently said, “A revitalized auto industry benefits everyone—every consumer, every dealer and every manufacturer."

Each January, as the North American International Auto Show opens, we see a surge in searches related to new car models (the Hyundai Curb, for example) leading to a peak of interest in the summer—due in large part to special offers—and this year is no exception. Using Insights for Search, let’s take a closer look at what consumers are interested in and what the world is searching for in cars and trucks.

Over the last 30 days in the U.S., Ford tops the list of search queries in the entire automotive brand category, followed by BMW, Audi and Nissan.


Consumers and car shoppers in the United States are also searching for vehicles featured in movies, music and video games. Specifically, searches for [jeep black ops]—a vehicle featured in the video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” released in November—recently saw record highs. And with the release of the feature film “Green Hornet,” searches in the automotive category for both [green hornet] and [black beauty], the name of the car in the movie, are at record levels. Searches for [chrysler imperial] (the make of the Black Beauty) are also making a comeback. Finally, searches for [aston martin] and [aston martin music] are breakout terms, perhaps due to the hip-hop song “Aston Martin Music” by Rick Ross.


With more than 700 new car models on display (including the new Audi A8 with built-in Google Earth navigation) at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show and headed to dealer showrooms, consumers will have unprecedented choices in what they can drive this year. At the Detroit Show, auto makers from Detroit and abroad are showing off all-new sedans, sports cars, trucks and SUVs, led by the Chevrolet Volt which was named Car of the Year and the all-new Ford Explorer—which won 2011 Truck of the Year at the show. But based on data from Insights for Search, 2011 appears poised to be the year of the “crossover.” Consumer interest in the category has steadily risen over the past few years and some of the hottest car models in search—like [nissan juke], [honda crosstour] and [mitsubishi outlander]—are all crossovers.


Other trends may bode well for the auto industry in America. Searches in the auto financing subcategory for January 2009 through December of 2010 show a steady decrease in popularity in auto financing-related terms like [lease], [car loan] and [car calculator]—a signal that some interpret to mean financing of cars may not be a hurdle like it has been in past years.


At the other end of the purchase spectrum, luxury car and truck brands saw a smaller dip than other auto segments the past few years. Luxury buyers aren’t waiting for deals; rather, they’re looking to upgrade, and smart marketers are connecting with these shoppers. Factors like safety and entertainment drive purchases for luxury car buyers more than price and financing. Interestingly, in the luxury market, consumers are doing their car-buying research from their mobile phones. In fact, according to our latest research, 8% of luxury buyers used a mobile phone at the very beginning of their car buying research, 43% of luxury buyers used a mobile phone in the middle of their search and 28% of luxury buyers used a mobile phone at the very end of their car buying search. Savvy marketers like BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi and Infiniti are capitalizing on the opportunity as they target specific marketing campaigns to consumers and car shoppers' mobile devices.

And finally, our data reveals that searches for [minivan] were up year over year—perhaps thanks to the creative folks over at Toyota and their “Swagger Wagon.” Although still not considered hip by everyone, it seems that predictions of a minivan comeback were right on target.



2011 is shaping up to be comeback year for not just Detroit, but for the entire auto industry. As a third generation Detroit-based automotive industry worker, I couldn’t be more excited for the future of Auto. The auto business is a great place to work and we have better things ahead of us. As the Motown great Stevie Wonder once said, “No one's gonna bring us down, oh no, 'til we reach our highest ground.”

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“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Next Monday, January 17, marks the 25th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. We join Americans in celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King as a company-recognized holiday. You may not know that Martin Luther King Day is not only a federal holiday, but also a national day of service. In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, which encourages citizens to volunteer on that day.

This MLK Day, many Google employees are participating in service projects from coast to coast. We’re also joining the Corporation for National & Community Service, a Google Grants recipient, to spread the word about volunteering opportunities around the country. On their MLKDay.gov site you can learn about the King Day of Service and find a project in your area. Projects include delivering meals, refurbishing schools and community centers, collecting food and clothing, signing up mentors, reading to children, promoting nonviolence and more. Many of these projects start on King Day and last throughout the year.

Together, let’s make Martin Luther King Jr. Day “a day on, not a day off.”

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(Cross-posted from the SketchUp Blog)

On April 6, 2009, a powerful earthquake struck l’Aquila, Italy. Three hundred and eight people died, and most of the buildings in the city center and surrounding areas were damaged or destroyed. About six months ago, we received an email from a British architect named Barnaby Gunning proposing an ambitious project: to use Google SketchUp to build a digital 3D model of the city, as it is now, in order to stimulate discussion about its reconstruction. He had already created a website—called Comefacciamo ("What can we do?")—to contact and organize volunteers.

Barnaby Gunning with the project T-shirt

Barnaby asked if Google would support a geo-modeling workshop in L’Aquila in an effort to create a digital model of the city. An engineer working on SketchUp and an Italian by birth, I was asked to travel to L’Aquila and give geo-modeling classes in Italian. I was excited! I could visit my motherland, teach people about the product I work on and help out with a project that could have a great impact on reviving the city. I ended up teaching six full-day classes over the course of two trips in October and November.


Teaching Google SketchUp skills to volunteers in L’Aquila

Teaching in Italian about a product on which I work almost exclusively in English proved to be more challenging than I thought. It took me awhile to get used to using the correct Italian name for the Push/Pull tool: Spingi-Tira. (It’s more fun to say, though.) The passionate volunteers who attended my classes more than made up for the language frustrations. Not only were they interested and attentive learners, but their desire to do something for their beloved city was contagious.


The church Santa Maria Paganica in real life (top) and modeled with SketchUp in Google Earth (below).

The modeling phase of the project is now in full swing. Several of the volunteers’ models have already been accepted into Google Earth—you can see them in your browser if you like. You can even take part in the project by helping to model the city from wherever you live. We’ve added L’Aquila to the list of places where you can use Google Building Maker to create geo-models, so no previous 3D modeling experience is necessary. If you’d like to dive in a little deeper, you can use SketchUp in connection with the many photos and other information on Barnaby’s website.

My few days in l’Aquila teaching SketchUp proved to be a fantastic experience. I met so many people who are enthusiastic about this project and willing to sacrifice their weekends to learn how to model, and to provide an exhaustive photographic record of the current situation. The time I spent with them was a wonderful remainder of the love they feel for their city—a love that I now share. I count myself lucky to be a participant in this important project.

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(Cross-posted from the Google Mobile Blog and Translate Blog)

When we launched the first version of Google Translate for Android in January 2010, we were excited about the year ahead. For the first time, we were bringing the capabilities supported on Google Translate—like machine translation, romanization of non-Roman scripts and spoken translations—to the Android platform. We also offered voice input to let you speak the word or phrase you wanted to translate instead of typing it in, and SMS translation so you could translate SMS messages sent to you in foreign languages.

Today, we’re refreshing Translate for Android with several updates to make the app easier to interact with. Among other improvements, we’ve created better dropdown boxes to help select the languages you want to translate from and into, an improved input box, and cleaner icons and layout.


We also want to let you in on an experimental feature that’s still in its earliest stages—Conversation Mode. This is a new interface within Google Translate that’s optimized to allow you to communicate fluidly with a nearby person in another language. You may have seen an early demo a few months ago, and today you can try it yourself on your Android device.

Currently, you can only use Conversation Mode when translating between English and Spanish. In conversation mode, simply press the microphone for your language and start speaking. Google Translate will translate your speech and read the translation out loud. Your conversation partner can then respond in their language, and you’ll hear the translation spoken back to you. Because this technology is still in alpha, factors like regional accents, background noise or rapid speech may make it difficult to understand what you’re saying. Even with these caveats, we’re excited about the future promise of this technology to be able to help people connect across languages.


As Android devices have spread across the globe, we’ve seen Translate for Android used all over. The majority of our usage now comes from outside the United States, and we’ve seen daily usage from more than 150 countries, from Malaysia to Mexico to Mozambique. It’s really rewarding for us to see how this new platform is helping us break down language barriers the world over.

Translate supports 53 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish, and voice input for 15 languages. You can download the application, available for devices running Android 2.1 and above, by searching for “Google Translate” in Android Market or by scanning the QR Code below.


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It’s been one year since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, and governments and NGOs are continuing to respond, many using high-resolution images of the area. To support these efforts, we’ve updated our aerial imagery in Google Earth of the Port-au-Prince area to include images from before and after the earthquake, as well as made updates throughout 2010. These pictures provide an evolving view of the movement of people, supplies and rubble.

To access this imagery directly, use the Historical Imagery feature of Google Earth.

Complementing our online efforts with this imagery, a webpage and crisis response tools such as Person Finder, Google has made an effort to contribute to relief in Haiti by providing technical and financial support to NGOs. These organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and Partners in Health and specific technology NGOs such as Samasource and Frontline SMS continue to help the Haitian people. We’ve looked to them to help us guide our ongoing response to this crisis.

In November, we gathered updated aerial imagery, and sent a second wave of Google teams to Haiti to evaluate our earlier response efforts and see where Google could continue to provide help. We met with local Haitians and technology NGOs under tents, in trailers, in Internet cafes and at restaurants.

From these visits we witnessed the difficulty involved in using our mapping tools under the unpredictable nature of the Internet in Haiti, and so have focused on developing better offline capabilities and have proposed ideas for improving overall Internet access in Haiti. We also ran training for aid workers on our collaborative tools like Google Apps, which can help coordinate resources. While there, we spent time understanding how NGOs are combating the cholera epidemic, and brainstorming tools that could help aid workers produce specialized maps of epidemic case data and chlorination levels at water points, which are critical for planning and prevention.

If you’re interested in helping with Google’s efforts in Haiti, you can:
Our experience and the updated imagery demonstrate that there are still significant needs on the ground in Haiti. We’re continuing our efforts to support locals and NGOs and look forward to seeing how technology will continue to help both Haitians and victims of disasters worldwide.