Google for Nonprofits Newsletter - October 2012

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Leslie Hernandez

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Nov 7, 2012, 12:36:11 PM11/7/12
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Google for Nonprofits Newsletter October 2012
November 7, 2012
In this issue
By the way
What's new
Tools in action
Expert corner
Connect

By the way TOP
Fall has arrived! With the first school semester in full swing and holiday fundraising efforts underway, we wanted to share some exciting updates on Public Alerts, the Google Cultural Institute and more. Don't miss our live Google+ hangout with several nonprofit organizations focused on environmental issues on November 15th at 10:00am PST/1:00pm EST. You can tune in via our Google+ page. See you then!
What's new TOP
image Public Alerts on Google Search and Maps for Android with superstorm Sandy preparedness information
Google Public Alerts provide warnings for natural disasters and emergency situations when and where they’re relevant to you. During our response to hurricane Sandy we launched Public Alerts on Google Maps for Android, and on Google Search. When there’s important information available, alerts will appear directly on Google Search & Maps in your browser, on Google Maps for Android and also on Google Now for Android devices running Jelly Bean. For more information on how alerts work, visit the Public Alerts page.
image Voting resources from Google
Even in 2012, important voting information is often disorganized and hard to find on the Internet. To help voters research candidates and successfully cast their ballot on Election Day, we launched our new Voter Information Tool. The tool is easy to embed on any website and is open source so developers can modify it to create custom versions. Get more information about the Voter Information Tool here.
image Google’s data centers: an inside look
Very few people have stepped inside Google’s data centers. On Where the Internet Lives, our new site featuring beautiful photographs by Connie Zhou, you’ll get a never-before-seen look at the technology, the people and the places that keep Google running. For more information, check out this blog post.
image Google News turns 10
Ten years ago, Google News broke ground in news aggregation by gathering links in real-time and providing a diverse set of sources for any given story. Google News enables readers to easily access different perspectives and genres of content. As we have scaled the service internationally, we have added new features such as Local News, Personalization, Editors’ Picks, Authorship and Social Discussions. We have also evolved our design, embraced mobile and run ancillary experiments (Fast Flip and Living Stories). Learn more about the latest from Google News here.
image Bringing history to life
Bringing history to life In an effort to continue preserving and promoting culture online, the Google Cultural Institute recently launched the Google historical collections, following the Art Project, World Wonders and the Nelson Mandela archives. Now you can discover 42 new online historical exhibitions telling the stories behind major events of the last century, including Apartheid, D-Day and the Holocaust. To learn more, read the blog post and check out this video. If you’re a partner interested in contributing your own exhibitions, please fill out this form.
Tools in actionTOP
image Tools in Action: Putney
This month we caught up with Kevin Champney, Director of Technology and Library Services at the independent educational institution, The Putney School, to see how they use Google products to achieve goals and address similar challenges to those facing many organizations today.

The Putney School is a boarding and day high school in Southern Vermont that uses Google Apps for Education to further its mission of progressive education for a sustainable future. The school uses Gmail, Google Drive, Google Sites, YouTube, and Blogger as collaborative learning tools, which allow students to interact with their teachers in an asynchronous environment.

Students use Google Earth for project-based learning such as mapping local historic farmsteads and creating an eradication program for invasive species on campus.

Google Calendar provides community members with the school-wide and personal scheduling tools they need to keep the rural rat race in an orderly stampede. On the marketing front, Google Analytics provides the Admissions and Development teams a very specific view into website traffic, allowing them to shuffle the best of what they have to offer to the places people are looking. At The Putney School, Google Apps for Education has provided the technological clearing house for moving the platform of progressive education into the online universe.
Expert corner TOP
image This month we caught up with David Pablo Cohn to learn about the life of an engineer at Google, and more about the social impact projects that he works on at Google.org.
Q. Tell us about Google’s Engineering for social impact
A. Google.org engineering is one of the most unique places in the world. Google has given us a mandate to do some of the most innovative things in technology with the sole focus of social good. Google is generously charging us to help change the world. A part of that is selecting the project. Engineers want to create a legacy of change. Check out some of our projects here.

Q. What is the team like?
A. I think our engineers have been at Google a little longer than most, and we’re all interested in the impact of technology to make the world a better place. Being an engineer in Google.org exposes you to a lot of the problems in the world and a lot of opportunities to get involved. I think our team loves those chances to have an impact.

A lot of times in tech you think “Here’s this cool thing I can make.” I think in Google.org, we’re driven by “There’s a problem here.” We’re driven by the fact that there are problems out there, and we want to know what we can do to help.

Q. What is your life like as Google.org Engineer?
A. Many times, I’m writing server code in Python. I’ve written server software and investigated strategies. I’ve also helped get Antarctic imagery onto Google Earth and get the South Pole into Google StreetView.

Recently, I helped the Google Elections team get election results reporting online for Liberia. Previously, the Liberia Media Center had used community radio to ask voting stations to share their precinct results via SMS, and compiled those into crowdsourced results. I managed to help get those results imported into Google Fusion Tables with the help of some volunteers. Google Fusion Tables enabled Liberians and everyone else to see a real-time election map, with results that were updated as they came in.

Q. Are there any challenges you face as an engineer?
A. When you’re trying to improve the lives of people in a rural village by giving them information access, how do you measure that effect? They can use this access to find out how to fertilize their crops, to figure out what to do when their child is sick or to learn about their local elections. But it’s difficult to measure that effect, which is a challenge we face.

With many other products, there are more straightforward metrics such as how many users you have, and how much money you’re making, etc. With a philanthropic project, it’s much harder to measure social good because you’re not tracking success with those metrics. But even though we can’t always measure it, we know that statistically it helps, and that gets me out of bed in the morning.  

Q. Tell us your coolest story about technology for social impact.
A. I was to accompany the Carter Center as an election monitor in the Liberian election last year. I spent a week deep in rural Liberia visiting villages we had to use a machete to get to. We were impressed by how much everyone knew about the election and how dedicated they were to making sure the country ran a free and fair election.

Also, I worked for six months in Antarctica and was involved with many cool projects. Google’s involvement has changed the face of research in Antarctica. At the most recent Antarctic Research Conference, the Street View team and I were were greeted like rock stars. Street View is wonderful because it allows everyone to see historic and current imagery available. It has raised public awareness about Antarctica enormously. The satellite imagery has changed the way marine biologists and glaciologists work.

ConnectTOP
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