Given the company’s size, the wide-ranging impact of COVID-19 on Google is not surprising. Google today published a letter from Sundar Pichai to employees that lays out the company’s coronavirus response.
The primary takeaway from the Alphabet and Google CEO is how this “unprecedented moment” requires the company to maintain a “sense of calm and responsibility” given its large role in various online facets.
Every day people turn to Google products for help: to access important information; to stay productive while working and learning remotely; to stay connected to people you care about across geographies; or to simply relax with a great video or some music at the end of a long day.
To ensure continued operations amid the coronavirus, Google has a “24-hour incident response team” as upper management meets daily to assess the state of worldwide offices and whether to allow remote work. In areas where that’s being instituted, like the San Francisco Bay Area from today onward, hourly service workers responsible for cafeterias and facilities are being paid “for the time they would have worked.”
- In terms of products, Google in January instituted an SOS Alert where those searching about coronavirus are greeted with information from the CDC and WHO. Pichai notes a 1,700% spike in queries for “coronavirus cleaning advice” over the past week in the US. Meanwhile, a Knowledge Panel for COVID-19 identifies symptoms, prevention, and treatments.
- YouTube searches for coronavirus will directs users to WHO and local agencies, while Google is donating $25 million in ad credit to the international health agency and other government organizations to raise awareness.
- Videos with “claims to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment” will be removed. On the backend, it’s “adding resources to be able to support increased demand for public livestreaming.”
- Google Ads has blocked tens of thousands of ads over the last six weeks for capitalizing on COVID-19.
- Googler and Google.org donations total $1 million to “organizations working to purchase medical supplies, provide frontline workers with food and lodging, support the construction of temporary hospitals, and help with long-term recovery efforts.”
- Besides DeepMind — and its work to help understand the virus responsible for COVID-19, Verily is developing a temperature patch that connects to your smartphone. This small device could relay when you have a fever, and make possible earlier viral infection treatment, especially for the elderly.
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