Googly-eyed at Google: Day 3 of #Tech4GoodFellowship

Despite a late night with our very own in-house jamming session at the end of Day 2 (yes we aren’t your average stereotypical techies), anticipations were high for Day 3 of the #Tech4Good Fellowship. We were going to be spending the day at the Bengaluru Google office and excited to learn about different software and tools available particularly for non-profits.

The day started with a session on Google Earth Outreach – a tool that “empowers you to create positive change for people and the planet with Geo tools”. While most of us have probably used Google Earth or Street Views to google one’s own home or work place (in fact that is usually the most searched item), there is a lot more that these tools can be used for. For instance, they allow for innovatively mapping out impact or even the challenge one is trying to solve by bringing out in their own words, “non-profits’ story to life with custom maps”. A great example of this is the India Literacy Project which used these tools to create interactive content mapped to the school curricula such as one on Rivers of India, or a walkthrough to the Vijaynagar Kingdom. Using digital content to enhance learning aside, the Google Earth Engine stores satellite imagery at a large scale and makes it available for global-scale data mining. So if you want to study for instance the changes in Global Forest Cover or study the incidence of Malaria across the world, this is a useful tool.

The visual journey continued in the next session on the Youtube Impact Lab held by Shagun Rastogi. With 1.5 billion people coming to YouTube every single month, Youtube for Non-Profits is a rather underutilized resource, particularly in India. The insightful master class on the fundamentals of storytelling left us brimming with ideas on how we can reach and amplify our cause through short, relatable videos. More details are available here.

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Having spent the first half of the day in a classroom setting, it was time to stretch our legs and what better way than to roam around the google campus searching for inosaurs! Yes, you heard me right – the next session on data collection tools, started with us trying to use the Open Data Kit (ODK) tool to search, see, and input information on baby toy dinosaurs around the campus!

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For those unfamiliar with the ODK – it is a free and open-source set of tools which help organizations author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions. Through ODK, individuals can build data collection forms, collect data in real time on a mobile or tablet and then aggregate and extract the collected data in machine readable format. ODK comes with a host of features from the ODK Briefcase which allows for storing data to ODK Aggregate an automated data management system, amongst others.

From building forms, using Google Fusion Tables to quickly clean and visualize data, and My Maps to geo-tag our data to mini foosball championships to recharge our energies, the afternoon disappeared before we knew it and it was time for the last and final session. The session, taken by Mr. Amanjeet Singh gave a quick overview of host of tools and products available under the G4NP (GoogleforNonProfits) initiative.

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As the day came to a close, with the knowledge that we had only one final day left, we were left excited at where this journey will take us. Having been on the receiving end of exasperated techie friends asking me to “just google it” while grappling with using technology for work, we are grateful to the entire Google Team and the #Tech4Good team for their patience and persistence of dealing with such a diverse group of #Tech4Good Fellows and not once saying – Just Google It”.

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Image Credit: Google & Tech4GoodFellows.Org