Information is one of the most important tools in our fight against Coronavirus. Tech companies like Google that have the necessary technological capabilities are playing an important role in connecting people with the right information and tools as well as supporting governments and health agencies around the world with necessary resources, and financial aid. In a blog post on March 15, Alphabet and Google CEO, Sundar Pichai announced that Google was partnering with the U.S. government in developing a website dedicated to COVID-19 education, prevention, and local resources nationwide. The company has rolled out the website with helpful tips, information resources, and data and insights.
The search giant is also using its other products like maps, search, and YouTube to direct people to timely and useful information. Google’s home page has a link to helpful resources on Coronavirus. Apart from that it is sharing WHO links and links to other health agencies like CDC and more resources form YouTube through popups. Wherever possible, Google is highlighting content from authoritative sources related to searches for COVID-19, and inserting information panels that provide additional context from high-quality sources. Google also launched the ‘Do The Five’ Campaign on March 14 to raise awareness regarding the tips people could use to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Google is also bringing additional features like displaying the status of a local business or institute as temporarily closed and for businesses to mark themselves as temporarily closed during the crisis. It also created a special webpage with information on airlines that were offering flexible cancellation policies and change fees.
Google against misinformation
Misinformation is potentially dangerous during the crisis. All the tech leaders, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple are exercising the highest level of caution in this regard to prevent any misinformation from being leaked through their platforms or devices. Google has taken special precautions across YouTube, Search, Maps and other products that could have been used by misinformers. Thousands of such videos were uploaded to YouTube that shared potentially dangerous treatment and prevention methods that Google removed from its platform. On Google Maps too, it has cleaned away misleading information using automated and manual review systems. Both Facebook and Google cracked down on ads trying to capitalize on the crisis. They have blocked hundreds of thousands of such ads since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. Last week, Google announced a temporary ban on ads of masks and respirators.
Helping remote workers and students during the crisis.
Coronavirus has disrupted everything from business to everyday life. Employers around the world have asked their workers to work from home. Google has made its video conferencing app Meet available at Zero cost to all its G-Suite customers till July 1, 2020. The number of premium users of the ‘Meet’ app has grown sharply. Apart from that, the company shared tips and resources for remote workers to make their task easier. Distance learning resources Google created for the educators include training materials, YouTube Learning Hub as well as a series of blog posts and webinars. Google is also helping teachers around the world in regions like HongKong and Taiwan and delivering additional technical support through its partners. The spread of Covid-19 has hurt the education system worldwide and both teachers and students depend on its range of learning and teaching resources during the crisis.
Supporting the government and relief providers.
Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post published March 15,
“Through our philanthropic arm Google.org, we are committing $50 million to the global COVID-19 response, focusing on health and science, access to educational resources and small business support.”Google Blog.
Google has been collaborating with WHO to keep the public informed and also extended financial support to WHO to help the organization fight against Coronavirus. The company will be matching up to $5 million in donations to the Covid-19 solidarity response fund for tracking the spread of the virus and helping frontline workers with essential supplies. Google has also made a $500,000 grant to a team of researchers, epidemiologists and software developers at Boston Children’s Hospital working on a HealthMap website related to public health threats and outbreaks. It also plans to launch a distance learning fund in the coming weeks and extend support for small businesses including financial capital and resources. Google has also launched a $25 million Google Ad Grants crisis relief program to help governments and relief organizations.
Alphabet’s Verily is collaborating with California state, local and federal health authorities for establishing testing sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, and on an online tool to increase risk screening and testing for people who are at high risk of COVID-19. Verily’s Project Baseline will allow Californians to take an online screener survey. Those meeting the eligibility and requirements will be directed to mobile testing sites based on capacity. The program is still in its infancy but Verily plans to expand it to more locations over time. Alphabet’s DeepMind released predictions to help scientists better understand the coronavirus protein structure and develop future treatments.
Helping Googlers Globally
Google established a COVID-19 fund for its temporary staff and vendors globally who can take paid sick leave who have potential symptoms of COVID-19 or cannot go to work because they are quarantined. Google is also making sure that its workforce around the world has its continuous support as the crisis evolves.
The responsibility of the tech giants has grown during the crisis as they have to ensure that people and the government receive all the necessary support and resources. Coronavirus has stifled movement and mobilizing resources is one of the leading responsibilities that tech players like Google can handle safely and help the organizations at the frontline in the combat against Covid-19. A large number of other organizations too like Coca Cola, Nike, and Starbucks have announced funds to help organizations leading the fight against Coronavirus at the ground level.