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A new space for Southeast Asian developers in Singapore

Last November, Raymond Chan, a data scientist at Chope, attended one of our first ML bootcamps for developers and start-ups in Southeast Asia. Over four days, he gained a deeper understanding of how to use Google Cloud Platform to better structure data from approximately 775,000 records on Chope’s real-time restaurant reservation booking platform every day. With this new knowledge, Chope has been able to use that data for more effective and timely decision-making, making it easier for customers to book restaurants.

Today in Singapore, we’re opening the Developer Space @ Google Singapore—a space that brings together resources to help Southeast Asian developers, entrepreneurs and community groups grow, plus earn more with their businesses. This is the first physical space dedicated to developers that sits inside a Google office, so developers here can look forward to benefiting from insights, hands-on mentorship and networking opportunities with various teams working at our Asia Pacific headquarters.  

Supporting startups and developers like Raymond, and helping them achieve their full potential is something we’re passionate about. In addition to the ML bootcamps, we will run a range of workshops on the latest Google tools and technologies, as well as programs like LeadersLab and Indie Games Accelerator that fuel ecosystem growth. We will also support activities run by community groups like Google Developer Groups, Google Business Groups and Women Techmakers.

With developers and startups from Southeast Asia rapidly driving growth across the region, we can’t think of a better place to open this new hub. Come join us throughout the year for an exciting roster of events and meet people who, like Raymond, are looking to build and scale great products. Check out our schedule of events here.

To help fight the opioid crisis, a new tool from Maps and Search

In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, with over 130 Americans dying every day from opioid-related drug overdoses.  Last month, we saw that search queries for “medication disposal near me” reached an all-time high on Google.

53 percent of prescription drug abuse starts with drugs obtained from family or friends, so we’re working alongside government agencies and nonprofit organizations to help people safely remove excess or unused opioids from their medicine cabinets. Last year, we partnered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for National Prescription Take Back Day by developing a Google Maps API  locator tool to help people dispose of their prescription drugs at temporary locations twice a year. With the help of this tool, the DEA and its local partners collected a record 1.85 million pounds of unused prescription drugs in 2018.

Today, we’re making it easier for Americans to quickly find disposal locations on Google Maps and Search all year round. A search for queries like “drug drop off near me” or “medication disposal near me” will display permanent disposal locations at your local pharmacy, hospital or government building so you can quickly and safely discard your unneeded medication.

This pilot has been made possible thanks to the hard work of many federal agencies, states and pharmacies. Companies like Walgreens and CVS Health, along with state governments in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan and Pennsylvania have been instrumental in this project, contributing data with extensive lists of public and private disposal locations. The DEA is already working with us to provide additional location data to expand the pilot.

For this pilot, we also looked to public health authorities—like HHS—for ideas on how technology can help communities respond to the opioid crisis. In fact, combining disposal location data from different sources was inspired by a winning entry at the HHS’s Opioid Code-A-Thon held a year ago.

We’ll be working to expand coverage and add more locations in the coming months. To learn more about how your state or business can bring more disposal locations to Google Maps and Search, contact today.

Using Google for Education tools to create community at Lundavra Primary

Editor’s note: Today’s post is by Harriet Ogilvie, a teacher at Lundavra Primary School in Fort William, Scotland. Harriet was one of the many teachers who recently joined us at BETT 2019 to share stories about using technology that engages students and transforms learning. Below, Harriet explains how she and other Lundavra teachers help students build communication skills and create online portfolios using G Suite for Education.

At Lundavra Primary School, students and teachers encourage parents and other local residents to visit our schools and learn about what’s happening in our classrooms. It’s important to us that we connect the Fort William community to the life of the school. To make this happen, we invite everyone in the area to “Community Cafes,” once-a-month social events featuring student singing, homemade baked goods and a book exchange.

After the Community Cafes, students with Chromebooks in hand ask people if they enjoyed attending, and what they’d like to see at future Cafes. The students enter responses into Google Forms, which is helpful for us teachers as we plan our future community events—plus, it’s much easier to keep track of than paper forms that wouldn’t be returned. When students are getting this feedback using Google Forms, they can connect and communicate with fellow students, teachers and people in the community. Students learn language and communication skills as they formulate questions to ask attendees and start conversations with adults.

Check out the Community Cafe at Lundavra Primary School!

I like talking with my granny and her friends and helping her use the Chromebook. Neo
Primary 6 student about the Community Cafe

For students, gaining digital skills and building confidence often starts in the Community Cafes, but continues through students’ development of learning portfolios, which are records of their classroom projects and their accomplishments. The portfolios help pupils take ownership of their learning and show what they've accomplished to peers and parents.

These portfolios used to be on paper. When we switched to online portfolios, students could be more creative in telling stories about their academic careers—for instance, by creating video book reports and adding photos of themselves and their classmates. They build portfolios using Google Sites—a much more flexible and engaging tool than paper portfolios that weren't easy to share and frequently misplaced. Students use the Padlet app with their Chromebooks to write regular reflections about their work, and embed the Padlet pages into their Google Sites. Using YouTube, students work with their peers to create vlogs about stories they write themselves. By the time students reach Year 7, they can teach their younger classmates how to build online portfolios—a confidence-building exercise for those about to move on to secondary school.

I am better at talking to people I don’t know. I enjoyed looking at the data we collected from our Google Forms survey. I made it into bar graphs and pie charts to make it easier to understand. Kirsty
Primary 6 student

Teachers and students need tools that encourage students to leave their comfort zones. In our case, the tools in the background are from Google: Videos, portfolios, surveys, documents and online research that inspire students to choose how they want to learn and create. Every time students use Google tools, they learn skills that go beyond the lesson at hand. When they build their online portfolios, students learn how to organize content; when they teach younger students how to use Google Sites, they learn about leadership. And when teachers create assignments in Google Classroom and provide comments while students are working, students learn to give and receive feedback and collaborate with others. We’re excited to find new ways to use Google to help our students become confident, engaged learners.

A Doodle honoring Steve Irwin: zookeeper, conservationist and father

Editor’s note: Today’s guest post comes from Dr. Terri Irwin, wife of the late Steve Irwin, who is honored in today’s Google Doodle. 

Today’s Google Doodle acknowledges the life and achievements of my husband Steve Irwin, whose efforts to protect wildlife and wild places have been recognised as the most extensive of any conservationist. We are so proud that his legacy lives on, as that was his greatest wish. He once said, “I don’t care if I’m remembered, as long as my message is remembered.” 

Steve was born on February 22, 1962 in Upper Fern Tree Gully, Victoria, Australia. The Irwin Family moved to Beerwah on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in 1970 and opened a tiny roadside wildlife park called the Beerwah Reptile Park (later renamed as the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park). Steve helped to monitor, study and relocate crocodiles living too close to populated areas, which lead to his love and respect for these apex predators.

I happened to go into this tiny roadside park in 1991, when I was visiting Australia with some friends. There I encountered an outspoken man who was clearly passionate about wildlife, especially crocodiles. He was actually inside one of the croc enclosures sharing with the visitors just how special crocodiles really are. “They are very protective mothers and male and female crocodiles show great affection to each other,” he was saying. I had never heard anyone speak about crocs with such enthusiasm, much less have the calm courage to hand feed one of these giant saurians. I just had to speak to him. It was a decision that would change my life forever.

Steve and I married in June 1992 in my grandmother’s church in Eugene, Oregon. Afterward, we received a phone call about a poacher trying to kill a large crocodile in North Queensland, so instead of a honeymoon, Steve and I went to Australia to save the croc before the bad guys got him. We invited a film crew to come along and document our efforts. Although we didn’t arrive in time to save the crocodile, we did save his mate. She was a beautiful girl, not quite 10 feet long. We didn’t know it at the time, but this would turn out to be the very first episode of “The Crocodile Hunter” and the beginning of a 14-year adventure, filming in locations across Australia and around the world.

The very best part of our lives together would have to be our two incredible children. Bindi was born in 1998, the same year we changed the name of our zoological park to Australia Zoo. Robert was born in 2003, and we travelled and filmed with both of our amazing kids.

Our lives changed forever when Steve had an accident while filming in the Great Barrier Reef. Losing Steve was a real crossroads for us, but together we decided to continue his mission. Bindi, Robert and I have dedicated our lives to the wildlife conservation work that Steve began.

Today, Australia Zoo is still growing with more than 1,200 animals, and nearly 1,000 acres. We protect nearly half a million acres of habitat, and our non-profit organisation supports conservation projects around the world. We even have a Wildlife Hospital that has treated over 82,000 sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife, solely to return them back to the wild.

As Wildlife Warriors, we continue the battle to protect wilderness areas just like Steve did. Our global conservation programs protect many vulnerable and critically endangered species including rhinos in Kenya, tigers in Sumatra, elephants in Cambodia, crocodiles home in Australia and many more. We’ve also continued the longest running and most comprehensive crocodile research program in the world aiming to educate people everywhere about the essential role crocodiles play in our eco-system as apex predators and why they deserve to be conserved for future generations.  We do this work every day to honor Steve's memory, and now today's Doodle honors him, too.

How I started a new career while raising three kids, thanks to Google

Editor’s Note: Since 2016, more than 73,000 people have explored new opportunities with the Google Developer scholarship, part of Grow with Google’s commitment to help people across Europe–from Hungary to rural France–succeed in the digital economy.

Zuzana, a working mother from the U.K., was awarded the Google scholarship and graduated from a Udacity Nanodegree program, enabling her to launch a new career as a web developer. She’s among 21% of all Udacity Nanodegree students in the Grow with Google program in Europe who have received job offers after graduating. With her newfound confidence and skills, Zuzana was able to find the flexibility she needed to balance motherhood and her ideal career. Here is her story:

Being a mom to young kids isn’t easy. There’s always something you need to do for them, and it’s really hard to make time for yourself. So it was a special moment when in 2014, as a 33-year-old mother of two, I graduated with an undergraduate degree in psychology.

I looked forward to applying my new skills, but none of the jobs for psychology graduates offered the flexibility I needed to look after my young family. For a while I worked as a teaching assistant in a school, but though the hours were great, I wasn’t utilizing my degree. I felt stuck. So when I became pregnant with my third child, I decided to make a change.

I searched online for flexible jobs and started reading about people who had learned how to code and just months later were working from home. I’d never been interested in technology before– I simply thought that wasn’t me. But out of curiosity, I started to look into what developers do.

When I read about web accessibility, something clicked. Web accessibility is about making the web accessible to all, regardless of a person’s disabilities. Since I knew about the issues disabled people might have (like attention disorders, fine motor skills deficiency and sight impairment), I could see how these issues could affect them when using the web.

Learning web accessibility would allow me to apply psychology in a flexible work arrangement, and I could learn how to do it in my own time. I thought, Wow! Finally, there's something for me as a mom and as a person!

The Udacity Nanodegree program offered both a course on accessibility and a schedule that would fit my family commitments. I never thought I would get the Developer Scholarship from Google when I applied, so I was amazed to get an email saying I had been accepted.

I’d found it hard to think of myself as a web developer, but the scholarship changed that. It made me feel that someone believed in me, so I should believe in myself. The online interaction on the course was incredible, so I never felt like I was studying alone. Even so, when I was completing my Nanodegree program, it was a big step for me to go to a local tech meetup and present a talk to experienced developers. After I spoke, developers came up to me and told me how much they enjoyed my presentation. And shortly after that, one of them offered me my first job, as a web developer for a branding agency.

Whether it was psychology or programming, I've been hard at work studying ever since my first child was born. When I got that very first job, the kids celebrated with me because they knew how much hard work I’d put into it. I’m so glad I can be there for them–cooking, spending time together, helping them with their homework–and also focus on myself. The opportunity has opened new doors for my career, while keeping the door to my family wide open, too. I feel like I’ve finally found my perfect balance.

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