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Inside Google Cloud

Helping our customers navigate COVID-19 and build for the future

April 21, 2020
Thomas Kurian

CEO, Google Cloud

As the global response to COVID-19 evolves, businesses everywhere are adapting to an ever-changing environment that forces them to think differently. Our focus at Google Cloud right now is helping our customers navigate the impacts of COVID-19, whether that’s helping employees work remotely, ensuring social services are accessible or making sure communities can access the latest information on the virus. While we are focused on providing the near-term solutions our customers need, we also want to help prepare them with a reliable foundation for the future. 

Since my last update, we’ve continued to support businesses across all industries, along with government institutions and researchers who are using our technology in many incredible ways. Today, I’d like to share more on how we’re helping customers across three key verticals rise to the occasion. This includes helping governments take the burden off their IT systems and pivot to working from home; helping healthcare systems support people in need; and helping companies in industries like retail better manage changes in consumer demand.

Supporting governments’ and schools’ response to COVID-19

Governments around the world are facing increasing demands on their workforce, resources and systems, all of which are critical to their communities at this moment. They are working hard to meet community needs and weather the impact of COVID-19, and we’re proud that a number of our solutions are being used to deliver the services people rely on most. We’re seeing governments use our solutions to help them track the spread of the virus, better respond to questions from citizens and communities, and help manage services like unemployment disbursements and child welfare. 

Government agencies are among the more than 6 million paying customers who use G Suite, and have quickly pivoted to support remote learning and remote working during the pandemic. We’ve seen an unprecedented growth rate during this time—our video conferencing product, Google Meet now has more than 2 million new users connecting every day, spending over 2 billion minutes together as people look for ways to keep in touch while at home. And more than 100 million students and educators globally are using G Suite for Education. 

Security is critical to all users and secure communication tools like Google Meet are particularly important for government agencies and educational institutions. We’re proud that our security controls in Meet are turned on by default, so that in most cases, organizations and users don’t have to do a thing to ensure the right protections are in place. In addition, to help governments enable secure access to internal web apps without using a traditional remote-access VPN, we released BeyondCorp Remote Access. Organizations like NYC Cyber Command are using Google’s BeyondCorp solutions so their teams can quickly and securely access resources wherever they find themselves working. 

In Norway, the city of Trondheim is using Google Meet to collaborate effectively and address important issues within the community, and to make sure children can learn remotely—in seven days alone, they held 60,000 Meet sessions. In the Philippines, the Department of ICT relies on GovMail, built on G Suite, to help provide services to quarantined workers and citizens. And in the UK, Hackney Council is using G Suite and Chromebooks to keep its team of 4,000 staff connected and to make sure that essential services can still be delivered to citizens.

State government agencies in the U.S. are turning to Google Cloud to help them solve critical citizen service delivery issues. We're working to rapidly expand the telehealth capabilities across North Carolina's state-operated healthcare facilities and public health divisions, including deploying G Suite more broadly and building a two-way audio/video platform on Google Cloud to meet the needs of the state's clinical operations. 

We’re also helping governments build apps that can help screen patients remotely and aid in contact tracing to help stop the spread of the disease. The Singapore government has used Google Cloud to help create an app for frontline workers that tracks personal temperature data. In the state of Utah, we’re helping with an app that will enable over 1,000 state employees to assist with contact tracing, to better support response and recovery efforts. And in Brazil, we’re working with the Prefeitura de Recife and the state of Pernambuco to develop a screening app called Atende em Casa that helps reduce unnecessary hospital visits. 

Enabling healthcare systems to deliver better information and care

Healthcare organizations have been acutely impacted by COVID-19 and are focused on providing the best patient care and relevant information to the people who need it most. We are helping healthcare systems by providing services and tools to help them track the pandemic, treat patients remotely and stay connected.

Yesterday, we made our Cloud Healthcare API generally available to allow healthcare organizations like Mayo Clinic to ingest and manage key data from a range of inputs and systems—and then better understand that data through the application of analytics and machine learning in real time. 

We’re partnering with HCA Healthcare, one of leading healthcare providers in the U.S., to create the COVID-19 National Response Portal that promotes data-sharing about the pandemic and how it is spreading in an effort to help hospitals and communities prepare and respond. In Australia and the U.S., BetterConsult runs on Google Cloud to enable clinical staff to review patients’ symptoms and determine which are high-risk and may require specific help before they walk into a clinic or in advance of a telehealth appointment. Our data analytics solution, Looker is helping not-for-profit, community-based healthcare organization Commonwealth Care Alliance® to monitor patient symptoms and risk factors, and use these insights to proactively plan and provide the right patient care. 

Many hospitals are relying on G Suite to help them collaborate remotely and connect with each other and their patients. In the Philippines, Reliance Health Services was able to transition all employees to remote working by using Google Meet for daily meetings, and Google Sheets to collaborate on projects. In Adelaide, Australia, Southern Cross Care (SA, NT & VIC) Inc. is using Google Meet to help residents across their 17 Aged Care Facilities continue to stay connected to their loved ones despite lockdown measures associated with COVID-19. And Cambridge Health Alliance, a health system with 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s Metro North region, has relied on G Suite to help staff connect and coordinate on their response across three hospitals, 15 health centers and from home. 

In Chile, we are working with our partner KochaSoft to help RedSalud, which serves thousands of patients across the country through its nine clinics and 40 medical and dental centers. They were able to implement remote patient care in less than a week using Google Calendar as the patient appointment tool, Google Meet as the secure virtual management tool and Google Cloud Platform to support the integration.

Helping retailers manage increased demand and shifting expectations

The retail industry has been disrupted in many ways by the pandemic, with shifting customer demands resulting in some retailers struggling to stay up and running, and others experiencing a major surge in demand. Many retailers are facing challenges with forecasting, managing operations and serving their customers. We are focused on helping our customers manage spikes in demand, while delivering reliable up-time to make sure their systems run smoothly.

Indonesian e-commerce company Tokopedia is using Google Cloud’s data analytics tools to forecast demand to ensure sufficient inventory to their more than 7 million merchants and 90+ million monthly active users. In Singapore, NTUC Fairprice Co-Operative, the largest supermarket chain of the island nation, has experienced a surge of 400%+ increase in capacity needs as customers urgently prepare for COVID-19 with in-store and online purchases. With the help of G Suite, NTUC was able to handle this increased demand even as they transitioned the vast majority of their employees to remote work. After moving to G Suite two years ago, luxury brands distributor Bluebell Group in Asia was equipped to quickly launch a work-from-home initiative that allows them to work anywhere, on any device. 

The team at Shopify, a leading global commerce company, relies on the security, flexibility and reliability of Google Meet to help keep their workforce of 5,000 connected as they work to support merchants around the world. Schnucks, a family-owned supermarket retailer with 100 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin, has been able to run its Helpdesk 24/7 on Google Meet to help corporate and in-store employees get questions answered quickly. And in the UK, DFS Furniture Company Ltd has been able to transition its entire workforce to working from home using Google Meet. Both Schnucks and DFS also use G Suite with Chrome Enterprise to quickly roll out new devices to their frontline workforce.

Creating a foundation for the future 

These are just some of the amazing examples I’ve heard over the past few weeks. Our team is working hard to make sure our customers have the right technology and support in place to navigate this challenging time. We are committed to supporting our customers and communities through this pandemic, both in the short-term as everyone adjusts to a new reality, and in the long-term as businesses and governments begin to plan for what the future holds.

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