How is Google causing a positive impact on the lives of Colombians?
Google causes a positive impact through its products and the activities it leads. We have been working on several fronts, though our main focus is supporting companies of all sizes. In 2020, our CEO Sundar Pichai announced Google was donating USD800 million globally to support companies. USD340 million was given as ad grants, which means Google is contributing to the business capacity of SMEs worldwide. Google also partnered with the Inter-American Bank for Development (BID) with USD800 million raise to support Latin American SMEs through micro credits. We also help society with the products we create and the solutions we extend to business and individuals. In 2020, we partnered with the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá to sponsor a project called yaestoyonline.co. The site is a portal in which Colombian companies, particularly SMEs, can showcase their products online. In terms of education resources, we produce free tutorials and coaching sessions with the idea of teaching entrepreneurs how to use the internet to their benefit and help them sell their products or services online. In terms of health, we extended support to hospitals, health institutions, the government, and the Ministry of Health through our cloud technologies. We developed the application program interface (API) for cloud healthcare that allows the exchange of data in a simple way between patients and health institutions and amongst health institutions. The infrastructure allows health systems to be more efficient and offer care to patients at a distance.
What projects is Google focusing on the education side?
We created a series of trainings that live on a platform called Grow with Google (Crecer con Google en casa). We teach entrepreneurs, students, companies, and individuals how to use Google products to their favour. For example, they learn how to use Google My Business, “Google Mi Negocio" to showcase products, use Google Ads to advertise these products, publish their websites on the search engine, and create video content. We also partner with universities, academic institutions, and the Colombian National Service of Learning (SENA) to provide training on digital skills. Our strategy is to focus on digital literacy, namely giving people the tools to power up their existing activities, start a new activity, or integrate digital tools into their daily lives. Google launched an initiative in 2020 called Google IT Certificate, a professional certification in partnership with Coursera. It gives the public access to a professional IT certification. Expanding the productive capabilities of Colombians and their opportunities of income are Google Colombia's priority in terms of education.
How is Google harnessing the data it gathers to help society and guide government and businesses?
Making data available online democratizes information. Google Trends allows anyone to check real-time trends on what people around the world are searching for. That is a particularly important tool for policymakers such as governments and international organizations. The NHS in the UK used Google Trends data to plan flu vaccines stock-up schedules. Data is also being used in a more sophisticated manner to advance AI. Google Assistant combines AI and data for machine learning. In 2020, a Colombian researcher from La Universidad del Rosario won the Google Artificial Intelligence Award for social impact by designing an algorithm that is capable of detecting illegal mining.
How do you see the Colombian road toward digitalization?
In the US and the UK, a large chunk of the economy relies on the digital sphere. This demonstrates the potential technology can have to transform a country's economy and society. Colombia is set on that course of development, but under different dynamics because internet access is still not ubiquitous and internet access is developing directly on mobile. It will be particularly important to keep developing mobile technologies and mobile digital literacy. Private tech companies, the government, NGOs, and academic institutions must work together to contribute to digital education. Colombians have the potential of using digital tools to generate employment.