Monthly:October 2019

Safety at Waymo | It’s not magic, it’s Waymo’s engineering!

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Halloween is a fun and exciting night. People dress up as robots, fairies, or their favorite superhero. Parents and children travel from house to house, creating a great sense of community. However, behind all of this fun is a scary reality: Halloween is one of the deadliest days of the year for pedestrians in the US. 

According to the National Safety Council, children are twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than any other day of the year, so we need to be extra vigilant around pedestrians, leave with plenty of time to get where we are going, and to enter and exit driveways carefully.

Our self-driving vehicles are designed to see 360 degrees in every direction, day or night, and as far as three football fields away with the goal of improving road safety every night, including Halloween.

Just like a good driver, our cars need to recognize objects like pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users, and be able to predict what they might do next, no matter if they are dressed as a witch or a spider with eight arms. When it comes to driving, experience is the best teacher. Through machine learning, we are teaching our system to detect pedestrians in their many appearances, leaning on our 10 million miles of self-driving on public roads.

When our vehicles comes across an unusual and unfamiliar event, such as a group of people dressed as dinosaurs dancing on a corner, our system recognizes there is something strange going on and we proceed more cautiously. We also drive even more conservatively around children because we expect them to behave less predictably than adults.

We drive 365 nights of the year, but like you we must prepare to handle the complexities that come with driving on Halloween night. Our vehicles will help our riders reach the festivities and popular trick or treating locations to celebrate safely and you can count on our trained Waymo drivers to be extra vigilant for monsters and minions this week. A car that can drive itself might be this generation’s flying carpet, but it’s not magic, it’s Waymo engineering!Read More

3 ways veterans can maximize their civilian job search

In 2007, I made the transition to civilian life after serving in the military for five years. Though I was sure my experience as an engineer in the U.S Army would be valuable to employers, I had far less experience writing a resume that would appeal to recruiters hiring for civilian jobs. It’s easy to find an email template online of what a resume should look like, but translating what you did in the military to civilian speak is a real challenge.

To support service members who are preparing for their own transitions to civilian careers, Grow with Google teamed up with experts from the Center for Veteran Transition and Integration at Columbia University and FourBlock. Together, we created new Applied Digital Skills lessons designed to help veterans find a job and succeed in the civilian workforce.

The job search begins with a resume, so let’s start there. If you’re a veteran looking to transition to the civilian workforce, here are three tips for creating or updating your resume for your job search.

1. Search for civilian job postings that interest you.

You can find job listings that call for skills you developed during your time in service by searching “jobs for veterans” on Google Search and entering your military occupation code (MOS, AFSC, NEC or rating). Watch this quick video lesson for more on finding civilian job listings related to your military experience.

2. Decide which military experience to include on your resume. 

When editing your resume, it’s important to write about your experience in a way that civilian recruiters will be able to understand. This includes highlighting traits you exhibited while fulfilling military duties, and replacing military-specific terms (think: your military occupation code) with words or phrases civilian employers will understand. For example, you might consider changing a term like “combat operations” to something that may be more likely to resonate with hiring managers, like “high-risk environment.”  Learn more about choosing military experiences to feature on your resume.

3. Update your resume to fit the job. 

To increase your chances of landing an interview, you’ll want to tailor your resume to fit the job description. This shows a recruiter that you have experience with the specific job they’re hiring for, even if your job title in the military was different. You can also tailor your skills section to the job listing, and highlight relevant coursework, certifications, or awards. Go deeper on tailoring your resume to a specific job listing.

To get more hands-on digital skills training to support you in your job search, check out our full Applied Digital Skills curriculum designed and curated for transitioning service members and veterans. And to learn more about Grow with Google’s free products, tools, and trainings for transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses, visit grow.google/veterans.

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Build your content during the holiday season

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Holiday season is driven by users purchasing for themselves and for family’s gifts.

Don’t worry, even if your content is not related to the holiday season, a rise in internet traffic increases the probability of users landing on your page. Holiday season means an opportunity for all!

Create bespoke content

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To attract and retain an audience, it’s important to tailor your content to your users’ needs. Here are some helpful insights to create engaging content during the holiday season.

  • Think mobile size: 
    Users are increasingly searching on their mobiles. Smartphones accounted for the majority of digital shopping traffic for the first time this holiday season with 51% of visits according to Adobe1. Be mindful of the number of ads you show so users find it easy to digest on mobile. Keep your content short (and sweet). A recent Google study found that consumers ‘disliked mobile pages with ad densities greater than 30% and flashing animated ads2. Click here to learn more about mobile ad format optimization
  • Incorporate keywords into your content:
    – Mobile searches for “best” have grown over 80% in two years3.
    – The searches for Black Friday shopping increased by 1,150% on Google in 2018 from November to December4.
    – ‘Where to buy’ is a trending search phrase during the holiday season. For example, “where to buy cards,” and “where to buy gift boxes”5.
  • Keep up to date with this season’s trends: 
    The Google Trends tool will help you discover what are the big internet search topic of the moment for your audience. Check Google Trends tool. Internet users are also increasingly hungry for video content. For this holiday season, look at what’s trending amongst viewers with Youtube trends.
  • Let’s talk SEO: 
    Let Google Search find your site! Understand the basics of crawling, indexing, serving and how Google Search works. Get your site on Google.
  • It’s not over until it’s over:
    Keep publishing content throughout the season. Users are searching right up until Christmas. With new gadgets to unbox and explore, plenty of users will be online on Christmas Day itself, downloading apps, updating drivers and registering their devices. In fact, searches for ‘download’ and ‘activate’ are 30% higher on December 25th than during the week prior6.

Good luck on working with your content. Next week we’ll review what publishers should do to get the most out of the time after the holiday season.

Sources:

1. https://content-na1.emarketer.com/thanksgiving-day-is-now-the-no-3-online-shopping-holiday

2. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/better-ad-standards/

3. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/data/holiday-search-statistics-store-hours/

4. https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=2018-11-01%202018-12-31

5. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/data/holiday-shopping-search-statistics/

6. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/marketing-resources/data-measurement/gift-guide-for-marketers

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How we can help more American small businesses export

Technology has made it easier than ever before for small businesses to find new customers abroad. That’s been the experience for Ryan McFarland in South Dakota, who started Strider Bikes in 2007 after inventing a pedal-free bicycle for his young son. He’s since sold more than 2.5 million bikes to customers in 78 countries, and international sales account for over half of the company’s business. Through products and tools like Google Ads, YouTubeand Market Finder, small businesses like Strider Bikes are finding new markets and building relationships with customers around the world.

Still, we know that a majority of small businesses currently do not export their products, and many that do export continue to find it a difficult process. That’s where technology can come in — helping small businesses access international markets that present great opportunity.

To better understand the opportunities and gaps for small businesses, we commissioned a study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Brunswick Research on small business exports. We wanted to dig deeper into the role small businesses play in U.S. export success, the challenges they face in exporting and the ways new technologies and policy approaches can support them. Their new report, “Growing Small Business Exports: How Technology Strengthens American Trade,” comes out today. 

Researchers surveyed more than 3,800 small businesses across the country to estimate the current and potential impact of small business exports on the U.S. economy. A few highlights: Small business exports support more than six million jobs across all 50 states, and add over $540 billion annually to the American economy. Still, there’s a huge opportunity for more small businesses to sell overseas. If policymakers and the business community can help small companies overcome some of the challenges of exporting—like language barriers, customs issues and payment challenges—we could create nearly 900,000 additional jobs in the U.S. 

Modernizing and updating trade policy is key to unlocking exports for small businesses. But better use of technology also plays a critical role. The survey found that the majority of non-exporting small businesses—more than 70 percent—aren’t familiar with digital tools that could help them reach global customers. Tools like translation services, digital marketing and advertising and online payment platforms can help small businesses reach beyond their local markets. 

Based on these findings, the report offers a few recommendations, including:

    • Develop a collaborative initiative between the federal government, state governments, the private sector and others to train and assist U.S. small businesses in using technology for exporting. This approach would modernize export promotion tools while driving coordination between the numerous federal and state export agencies that have a stake in helping small businesses engage in trade. 
    • Encourage innovators and technology providers to build new digital tools—and broaden awareness of existing tools—that address barriers facing small business exporters. Today, only 20 percent of small businesses use digital tools to export. By increasing awareness of these resources, we can set small businesses up for success.
    • Building on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), policymakers should prioritize additional market-opening trade agreements that benefit small business exporters, including through high-standard rules in areas such as digital trade and the removal of non-tariff barriers that disproportionately affect small businesses.

    At Google, small businesses have always been a top priority of ours. (In fact, the first company to sign up for our ads platform was a small business — a mail-order lobster business from Maine!) By doing our part to lower barriers to exporting, we can help small businesses grow overseas and bring jobs and economic opportunities back to their communities. It’s crucial that policymakers across federal, state and local governments work with large and small businesses to meet this opportunity.

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    AlphaStar: Grandmaster level in StarCraft II using multi-agent reinforcement learning

    AlphaStar is the first AI to reach the top league of a widely popular esport without any game restrictions.Read More

    Why I Ride with Waymo: Jordan

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    Editor’s Note: In this “Why I Ride with Waymo” post, Jordan shares what makes Waymo One a relaxing and enjoyable service.



    Tell us a little about yourself!
    Hi! My name is Jordan, and I work at a software company in Chandler, Arizona, doing phone tech support.

    What do you primarily use Waymo One for?

    I primarily use Waymo to go hangout or go to bars with my coworkers. With Waymo, I don’t have to worry about driving after a night out; plus, I get to keep my car in the prime apartment parking spot.

    What was your first ride like, and what has improved since then?

    I was nervous for my first ride, but now, I just call for a Waymo vehicle like I would any other ride-sharing service. Since I started riding, I’ve noticed the car’s interface is more intuitive, and the cars now lets you play music so you don’t have to ride in silence.

    How do you normally rate your Waymo One rides?

    I normally rate my Waymo ride as four stars, or greater, unless the car does something it doesn’t usually do, – when it does, I’ll report it in the app.

    What’s the most difficult part of driving for you, and how does Waymo handle it?

    The most difficult part of driving is reacting to others on the road, and Waymo is usually rather overly cautious, which is a good thing.
    Why do you like riding with Waymo? 
    Waymo is competitively priced, and you don’t have to tip the car. I also appreciate that I don’t have to talk to the person behind the wheel; it makes the ride super pleasant so I can sit back, relax, and use my phone.

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    Investing in affordable and inclusive communities

    Editor’s note: This guest post comes from Micaela Connery, Founder and CEO of The Kelsey.

    My cousin Kelsey and I were born three months apart, going through every life milestone together. When it came time to live on our own, it took me several months to find housing—but it took Kelsey almost eight years. Her family struggled to find a home that was supportive of her disabilities, while still letting Kelsey be part of the broader community.

    Kelsey and Micaela

    Kelsey and me

    It’s a challenge almost every adult with disabilities faces. Kelsey was one of the lucky ones, with supportive parents and good local resources. The reality is that over 70 percent of people with developmental disabilities never move from their family home. This challenge is particularly acute in lower income communities or communities of color.

    Addressing this critical housing need for adults with disabilities can, and must, be done through inclusion in design, funding, policies and culture. The Kelsey creates and advocates for housing where people with and without disabilities live, play, and serve together. With a $5.3 million investment from Google, we’re building our first community—The Kelsey Ayer Station—in San Jose, California.

    The Kelsey Ayer Station will provide 115 homes to people of all abilities and all incomes. Our rent prices accommodate people with a range of incomes and 25 percent of the community is specifically reserved for people with disabilities. Developed in partnership with Sares Regis Group of Northern California, the entire space (including each unit) is designed to be accessible and inclusive to everyone. The site includes on-site features like a drop-off for accessible transit, sensory garden, and space for support staff. The building will have an Inclusion Concierge™, which means that two staff members will live in the community full time and connect residents to each other, the services and support they need, and the broader city around them. It will be a community where everyone—regardless of background, disability, identity, gender, age and race—can feel at home.

    Google’s investment is part of its broader commitment to Bay Area housing. With it, we no longer have to worry about critical pre-development costs like purchasing and entitling our land and completing initial design work. At the same time, Google’s financing will help us focus on securing permanent financing and philanthropic support to complete the project. Google’s investment allows us to stick to our ambitious pace: residents will move into the space in four years, a timeline rarely seen in the housing industry. 

    Less than 12 percent of adults with developmental disabilities own or rent their own home. But what people with disabilities want in housing isn’t particularly special or different. People want a place where they have privacy and independence, but also community where they feel safe without being constrained. People want a home they are proud of and can thrive in. Most importantly, housing for people with disabilities isn’t a problem to be solved “for them”—it’s an opportunity to create better designed, higher-quality, more connected communities for everyone.

    The Kelsey Ayer Station will demonstrate what’s possible when people, funding, and cities come together with a shared commitment to inclusion. With help from companies like Google and cities like San Jose we’re well on our way and we’re confident that their support will attract others to step up to make inclusive community a reality. 

    More from this Collection

    Making technology accessible for everyone

    To mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we’re sharing more about our efforts to make technology, and the world around us, more accessible.

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    Thanking all first responders

    Growing up, my next door neighbor was a Boston firefighter. Like many kids, I was inspired by heroic portrayals of firefighters battling flames and carrying people to safety. What affected me most, however, was watching my neighbor leave his house every morning, prepared to help those in need. This dedication to helping others stuck with me.

    It’s been twenty years since I first joined the fire department, and I’ve served as an on-call firefighter ever since. I’ve worked alongside EMTs, police officers, and community volunteers who on a daily basis are answering the call for help. While the newsworthy crises are part of the job, it’s also the less recognized, everyday moments—from replacing batteries in an elderly resident’s smoke alarm to calming a child after an allergic reaction—that are essential elements of this work.

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    Today we’re recognizing our nation’s first responders for all the ways they dedicate their lives to helping others. A challenging, but often unrecognized, aspect of this work is the preparation required ahead of potential disasters. Therefore, Google.org is giving a $1 million grant to Team Rubicon to build out teams of volunteers, most of them military veterans, who will work alongside first responders to build out disaster preparedness operations.

    Jake Wood, co-founder and CEO of Team Rubicon, explains the impact of this grant: “This funding enables us to build disaster preparedness in cities across the U.S. so we can mobilize to help others on their worst day. This includes everything from training in critical skill sets such as damage assessment, roof-tarping and chainsaw operations to incident command and leadership development—all so we can better serve our communities and neighbors affected by disaster.”

    Investing in preparedness is a key priority for Google.org as studies have shown that for every $1 spent on preparedness, approximately $6 are saved in the post-disaster recovery. Through this Team Rubicon grant and Google’s continued Crisis Response efforts, we aim to support the work of first responders and the strength of their communities.

    The work of Team Rubicon is close to my heart. Some of my closest friends and colleagues have been volunteering with them for many years and I’m grateful to be a part of supporting the incredible work they’re doing. Working within the first responder community has been one of the most meaningful aspects of my life. I continue to be inspired by the everyday selflessness of those I get the chance to work with. On behalf of Google, I want to say “thank you first responders for your daily dedication to help.”

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    Bringing Wi-Fi to the residents of Celilo Village

    For the past seven years, I have spent time visiting students in rural communities across Washington State, where I live. I share information about science, engineering, technology and math, and specifically talk about software engineering and the projects Google has launched. It’s a true joy of mine to see students excited about technology, and see their young minds thinking about the possibilities ahead of them. 

    When I visit students, I get to combine my experience as an engineer at Google, and as a member of the Google American Indian Network, to bring access to technology to those who may not otherwise have it. As an Elder and an Enrolled Member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Oregon, I was honored to take part in Google’s latest initiative to bring Wi-Fi and Chromebooks to Celilo Village, a Native American community on the Columbia River. This project will give residents and students the ability to access the abundance of information found online, and improve the digital divide between urban and rural communities.

    The village has a historical significance to this part of the country, dating back over 11,000 years. Today, it’s home to nearly 100 Native Americans from many tribes, four of whom are the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Confederated Tribes of Yakama, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla and the Nez Perce Tribe. And until now, the 16 homes in the village had sporadic or no access to Wi-Fi.

    Celilo Village schoolhouse

    Distributing Chromebooks to village residents in their renovated schoolhouse.

    Thanks to a grant from Google, participation from the Google American Indian Network and collaboration with Dufur School, village residents and The Dalles Data Center, all homes now have access to Wi-Fi, and so do their schoolhouse and longhouse. Residents will have access to Chromebooks, and I put together a booklet with instructions on getting online and accessing Google apps.

    Daydream VR in Celilo Village

    Karen Whitford, a resident and Elder of Celilo Village, tries out the Google Daydream View VR headset.

    The idea for the partnership came from Celilo Village resident Bobby Begay, who talked to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center about funding connectivity for the village. The Discovery Center then worked with Googlers across the company to get the project started, including the Google American Indian Network. We celebrated this special gift with a community event in Celilo Village over the weekend, where we were joined by tribal leaders, policymakers and community members.

    My fellow Googlers and I worked directly with the community to get this done, and we plan to keep our partnership going. “I’m excited to see the project come to fruition, but I think even more I’m excited at the opportunity to foster a longer-term relationship with residents of Celilo,” says my colleague Tria Bullard, one of the first Googlers to get involved with the project. We plan to provide more trainings and other computer science-related activities in the future. 

    My hope is that with this new window into technology, Celilo Village will continue to grow and thrive for years to come. And who knows: Maybe kids growing up there will become part of the next generation of scientists and engineers.

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    Using personal experience to make Chromebooks accessible

    David Tseng has dedicated his career to using technology to break down barriers for people with disabilities. At Google, he’s the Technical Lead for Chrome OS accessibility services, which means that his team makes Chromebooks easier to use for people with a wide range of disabilities. In honor of Disability Awareness Month, we sat down with David to hear more about his experiences making Chromebooks more accessible. 

    What led you to a career in tech and accessibility?

    I happen to be blind myself, so I grew up closely tied to technology. My “pen and paper” consisted of digital braille displays. My textbooks and exams came in digital formats even when my sighted peers used the usual physical variety. My interactions with computers meant listening to computerized text-to-speech. Looking back, all of this nudged me to wonder how these crucial pieces of my daily life worked, and led me to study them in college and beyond.

    My interest specifically in Chromebook accessibility stems from this personal passion. In large part, it comes from the fact that I not only use my Chromebook every day to accomplish all sorts of tasks at home and at work, but also that I’m an engineer with expertise in making those very products more helpful. When you work on something like accessibility it can be challenging because the user population has specific and detailed needs that aren’t always obvious or intuitive. It’s these challenges that motivate me. I’ve always thought that opportunities are boundless with software, and I still believe that today.

    What does Disability Awareness Month mean to you?

    I’ve always been eager to share with people the resources we have available through technology. For me, technology has served as a way to level the playing field. Now that so many of us have devices in our pockets at all times, we can move around more easily with our mobile phones, read our own mail, identify colors, recognize people’s faces and their expressions — there are so many wonderful and empowering things we can do with technology that can help us all lead fulfilling and independent lives.

    What’s the best part of your job?

    I love getting to lead the creation of features that tangibly make Chromebook better for users with disabilities, and also make Chromebook better for everyone. My team and I have the opportunity to create features for Chromebook like ChromeVox, which enables blind and low vision users to navigate the screen with audio spoken feedback, or with a connected braille display. This feature is personally meaningful to me, since I use it during my day-to-day work. 

    David using ChromeVox on his Chromebook at work

    My team and I have also developed Dictation on Chromebook, which allows a user to input text into any field on a Chromebook using their voice. This is especially useful not only for people with dexterity impairments, but also for anyone who wants to take a break from using their keyboard on Chromebook to type with their voice.  

    Our team is on a journey to make Chromebook as strong as possible for people with disabilities. Over the past couple of months, we dramatically improved the usability of Automatic Clicks, where users can set the cursor to automatically click or take action when the cursor stops moving for a certain amount of time — something that can be helpful for users with motor or dexterity challenges. 

    I believe that accessibility is a mindset that can be integrated into any aspect of technology. Whether you’re interested in machine learning, graphics, operating systems, hardware or gaming, there’s probably a pressing need for inclusive design. 

    To learn more about how to turn on accessibility features that work best for your needs on Chromebook, check out the Chromebook accessibility help page for more information.

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