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Every year, for over 12 centuries, thousands of people have gone on pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago trail from various parts of the world to arrive at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. In a unique natural and cultural setting that amazes pilgrims with every step they take, the Camino has been and continues to be the oldest, most widely used and most famous pilgrimage route in Europe.
Today the ‘¡Buen Camino! project — a virtual pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago — invites everyone to explore its most emblematic routes, the cultural, natural and architectural wonders, and the stories of the people who bring it to life. The project was created by the Regional Government of Galicia and Google Arts & Culture, in collaboration with the Regional Government of Aragon, Santiago Cathedral Foundation and the Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the Way of Saint James.
Thanks to over 100 online exhibitions, more than 4,700 photographs and videos and 13 360º virtual visits, you can embark on a journey to discover monuments, charming villages and even a local restaurateur ready to share his anecdotes. Best of all, the project helps you to find tips and recommendations to prepare for this great adventure.
‘¡Buen Camino’, which is available in 11 languages, including Spanish, Galician, English, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Russian, sets out to inspire everyone around the world about the benefits of walking and connecting with nature, hopefully helping you feel the magic of walking the Camino de Santiago.
Google is expanding its investment in news in Ireland. We’ve signed agreements with seven Irish publishers to bring Google News Showcase, our new product experience and licensing program for news, to Ireland. We plan to roll out News Showcase to readers across the country in the coming months.
Supported by our$1 billion global investment in news, Google News Showcase gives news publishers a new way to curate their high-quality content on Google’s News and Discover platforms, connecting their readers with the news that matters to them and giving them a deeper storytelling experience.
In Ireland, Google has signed partnerships with publishers including regional publishing group Celtic Media, national media consortiumThe Irish Times Group and online publisher Journal Media, covering almost 40 publications and a mix of local, regional and national news organizations from across the country.
“The Irish Times’ agreement with Google News Showcase is a welcome acknowledgement of the value of trusted news sources in modern democracies,” says Liam Kavanagh, managing director of the Irish Times. “It means titles in The Irish Times Group have more support to provide high quality, independent journalism to a wider audience.”
“News Showcase is a valuable tool in our organization's mission to provide open access to valuable journalism in Ireland,” says Adrián Acosta, the CEO of Journal Media. “Presenting headlines with meaningful context in Google News is a better news experience for the public. It builds users’ understanding of the news and the value of journalism. We are delighted to be part of this project."
“As one of the leading local news publishers in Ireland, Celtic Media Group welcomes the opportunity to be a launch partner for Google News Showcase,” says Frank Mulrennan, the CEO of Celtic Media Group. “We see it as a real opportunity to further build our audience through the enhanced profile of the panels which then drive readers back to our publisher sites for the fuller story. We have been impressed by the News Showcase induction programme and the ease of panel compilation for our journalists.”
More than 1,000 news publications globally have signed deals for News Showcase since last year, including in India, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Australia, Czechia, Japan, Colombia, the U.K, Austria and Argentina, with discussions underway in a number of other countries.
Through both our services and direct funding of news organizations, Google is one of the world’s biggest financial supporters of news, and Google News Showcase is the latest investment in our ongoing commitment to support journalism around the globe. In Ireland, Google supports news publishers in the country in a number of other ways including innovation funding, programs to support business sustainability like the Digital Growth Programme, and training for almost 2,000 Irish journalists and journalism students through the Google News Initiative.
Over the summer, I finally reunited with my family in France after almost two years. I live in another country, and traveling to see them has always been fairly easy. But when borders closed during the pandemic, visiting my family was no longer possible. In that moment, I realized just how essential traveling is — not only to my own life, but to the entire human experience. Travel supports everything from business opportunities to stronger bonds in families that live apart. Not being able to see my children made being far from them more unbearable — and it helped me appreciate the travel industry more than ever before.
On September 27, we celebrate World Tourism Day, and how travel helps us recharge and build meaningful connections with people around the world. And after a year of mostly social isolation, people are especially eager to take a trip. As research from Google and Kantar shows, a leading motivator for booking travel this year is visiting friends and family. Other major reasons include getting away and "treating oneself," and disconnecting from screens and the "everyday, at-home" life.
As vaccination campaigns have advanced and countries are reopening, we’ve seen increased optimism and readiness to make up for lost time and travel. Since the beginning of the year, the top-searched European tourist destinations on Google Maps are the Eiffel Tower (France), Sagrada Família (Spain), Louvre Museum (France), Europa-Park (Germany) and Colosseum (Italy).
While the pandemic has hit the travel industry particularly hard, there are hopeful signs that travel businesses are slowly but surely getting back on their feet. According to new research from ForwardKeys, international flights to European destinations in July and August reached 39.9% of pre-pandemic levels — a 13.3% increase from last year.
This is good news for the travel sector, which had to adapt to ever-changing COVID restrictions and border closings in the last year. For many travel businesses, technology and data insights have become lifelines to understand the shifts in travel demand and better connect with potential visitors online. Throughout the pandemic, Grow with Google has continued to provide digital skills trainings for small and medium travel businesses in the region so they can use online tools to attract new guests and grow their business.
Les Courtines, a charming gîte (a French cottage) with breathtaking views of the Larzac Mountains in France, participated in one of these digital skills programs. Marc and Corinne Levitte opened the cottage after their retirement in 2018 as a serene getaway for visitors eager to spend time in nature and away from the bustle of city life. Even though Marc didn't have much experience with technology, our French Grow with Google program — Google Ateliers Numériques — helped him optimize their Google My Business listing to make their website more visible. The effort paid off, and the cottage was completely booked for the summer season.
Earlier this year, we launched free hotel booking links to give hotels and travel companies a free way to reach potential customers. So far, these free hotel booking links have led to increased engagement across both small and large travel partners. For example, hotels working with the Greek booking engine WebHotelier saw more than $4.7M in additional revenue from free booking links this summer. Travel Insights with Googleis a zero-cost website for tourist destinations that features Destination Insights,real-time local data on how tourism demand is changing. Another tool, Hotel Insights, shows where interest for hotels and the region is highest. These resources have been useful for tourist organizations around the region.
As more people want to travel sustainably and look for eco-friendly services, we also recently announced that we’re making it easier to find planet-friendly options when traveling. Now, you can find information about a hotel's sustainability measures when you use our hotel search tool on google.com/travel. Eco-hotels like Scandic hotels Hamburg in Germany can now share more about their sustainable practices.
On this World Tourism Day, we remain optimistic that the travel and tourism industry will re-emerge stronger and more sustainable. And if you’re inspired to plan your next trip, check out Italy's capital of culture, Dubai's heritage and the explorer’s paradise of South Africa on Google Arts & Culture.
Lisa Mensah works to make sure business owners who “don’t get a fair shake” can get the capital they need to grow. She’s the president and CEO of the Opportunity Finance Network(OFN), which provides capital, advocacy, and capacity building to community development financial institutions (CDFIs). Driven by a mission to serve rural, urban and Native communities underserved by mainstream finance, CDFIs lend to small businesses and community developers who build thriving communities.
Lisa brings her experience working at the crux of finance and advocacy to the Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls. As one of our expert panelists, she helps us decide what organizations will receive funding from Google.org to help women and girls reach their full economic potential. I recently sat down with her to learn more about her path to OFN and why supporting women-led businesses is crucial.
What got you started on your path?
I’m from a bi-racial, bi-cultural family, and lived in Ghana as a young kid. I always thought I would do something in international relations.
While I was getting my master’s degree, I was most interested in helping refugees and women in developing countries. But I felt I was missing out on powerful conversations — often led by men — on how nations develop. These conversations were frequently about money. So, my path pointed me to the financial industry, where I could be involved in strategic decision-making that would ultimately affect issues surrounding women.
I began my career in commercial banking at Citibank. From there I moved to the Ford Foundation where I used my banking knowledge to help the Foundation build its program in microfinance and development finance. That’s where I fell in love with CDFIs, and I’ve worked with them ever since. Life’s twists pointed me to my true north, which is a combination of finance and advocating for change for people in poverty.
What sparked your interest in inclusion for women in finance?
From an early time, I was interested in the economy at the grassroots. That’s usually the economy that women inhabit. I wanted to understand: Who is really feeding everyone? Who is keeping kids healthy? Who is providing income to families? Women across the world, often in informal employment, were leading this.
Poverty in the U.S. is a phenomenon that is quite gendered, often women-led households are lower income. By getting involved in development finance, I was able to see who controls the money and found that women-led enterprises and activities were being left out.
How have CDFIs been transformative for female-led businesses?
Female and minority entrepreneurs have a harder time accessing affordable bank financing than their male counterparts. This is where CDFIs shine: where others see risk, we see opportunity. CDFIs take time to understand our clients and tailor products for them. This played out again and again during the pandemic when CDFIs provided great relief to women-owned small businesses.
Why did you get involved with the Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls?
The Google.org Impact Challenge will surface leaders that are flying under the radar in their countries and areas of work. We'll resource them to operate at a new level, like a venture capitalist finding the next big company. There aren’t enough philanthropic dollars for all the ideas that are out there in the world, but Google.org’s intention is to find efforts that are benefitting women and girls and support them at scale. That’s powerful, and I’m really pleased to be a part of it.
Pretend you have a megaphone to reach every little girl around the world. What’s your message for them?
Your dreams are yours and they are real. They’re in you for a reason. You’ve got your contribution to make to this world — don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. And even if your path changes, like mine did, you’ll find your way. Along your journey, look for your cheerleaders and helpers — find the people who believe in you and will support you in your dreams and ambitions.
Learn more about the Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls, and the 29-woman expert panel who is supporting the effort.
In 2021, nearly 250,000 Americans will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, which remains the second most common cancer among men in the U.S. Even as we make advancements in cancer research and treatment, diagnosing and treating prostate cancer remains difficult. This National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we’re sharing how Google researchers are looking at ways artificial intelligence (AI) can improve prostate cancer care and the lessons learned along the way.
Currently, pathologists rely on a process called the ‘Gleason grading system’ to grade prostate cancer and inform the selection of an effective treatment option. This process involves examining tumor samples under a microscope for tissue growth patterns that indicate the aggressiveness of the cancer. Over the past few years, research teams at Google have developed AI systems that can help pathologists grade prostate cancer with more objectivity and ease.
These AI systems can help identify the aggressiveness of prostate cancer for tumors at different steps of the clinical timeline — from smaller biopsy samples during initial diagnosis to larger samples from prostate removal surgery. In prior studies published in JAMA Oncology and Nature Partner Journal Digital Medicine, we found our AI system for Gleason grading prostate cancer samples performed at a higher rate of agreement with subspecialists (pathologists who have specialized training in prostate cancer) as compared to general pathologists. These results suggest that AI systems have the potential to support high-quality prostate cancer diagnosis for more patients.
To understand this system's potential impact within a clinical workflow, we also studied how general pathologists could use our AI system during their assessments. In arandomized study involving 20 pathologists reviewing 240 retrospective prostate biopsies, we found that the use of an AI system as an assistive tool was associated with an increase in grading agreement between general pathologists and subspecialists. This indicated that AI tools may help general pathologists grade prostate biopsies with greater accuracy. The AI system also improved both pathologists’ efficiency and their self-reported diagnostic confidence.
In our latest study in Nature Communications Medicine, we directly examined whether the AI’s grading was able to identify high-risk patients by comparing the system’s grading against mortality outcomes. This is important because mortality outcomes are one of the most clinically relevant results for evaluating the value of Gleason grading, ensuring greater confidence in the AI’s grading. We found that the AI’s grades were more strongly associated with patient outcomes than the grades from general pathologists, suggesting that the AI could potentially help inform decision-making on treatment plans.
We first began training our AI system using Gleason grades from both general pathologists and subspecialists. As we continued to develop AI systems for assisting prostate cancer grading, we learned that both training the AI and evaluating the model’s performance can be challenging because often the “ground truth” or reference standard is based on expert opinion. Because of this subjectivity, for some cases, two pathologists examining the same sample may arrive at a different Gleason grade.
To improve the quality of the “ground truth”, we developed a set of best practices that we have shared this week in Lancet Digital Health. These recommendations include involving experienced prostate pathology experts, making sure that multiple experts look at each sample, and designing an unbiased disagreement resolution process. By sharing these learnings, we hope to encourage and accelerate further work in this area, particularly in earlier-phase research when it’s impractical to train or validate a model using patient outcomes data.
Our research has shown that AI can be most helpful when it's built to support clinicians with the right problem, in the right way, at the right time. With that in mind, we plan to further validate the role of AI and other novel technologies in helping improve prostate cancer diagnosis, treatment planning and patient outcomes.