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Posted by Saurabh Gupta, Product Manager,

(Cross-posted on the Google Drive blog.)

Google Forms is a free and simple way to collect information--from quickly polling your friends about who'll be attending your trip to the haunted hayride, to getting thousands of responses to an awareness survey for work.

Over the last few months, Forms has been getting a bunch of updates to help you make good looking surveys, like new theme choices and the ability to create your own personalized themes.

To give you even more flexibility and options, we’re introducing add-ons for Forms—new tools, created by developer partners, that deliver even more features to your surveys (just like add-ons for Docs and Sheets).

Add-ons bring handy extras to your survey building experience, like setting a survey end date, sending custom emails based on responses, storing lists of choices that you frequently add to questions, and more.

You can access add-ons from the “Add-ons” menu in Forms, or by directly visiting the Forms add-on store.
Here are just a few of the growing list of add-ons that you can use today with Google Forms:
  • formLimiter: Close your survey automatically, after a maximum number of responses is reached, or at a date and time of your choosing. 
  • Ultradox Trigger: Create custom emails, reports, invoices, newsletters, etc., based on information that people enter into your form. 
  • Form Values: Store and pull from lists that you use regularly in Forms, like a list of staff, students, rooms, resources or anything you want. 
We hope these new tools make your Forms creation process even easier and more helpful--and stay tuned for more--our developer partners will be launching even more add-ons in the coming weeks.

PS: If you’re a developer with ideas for creating your own add-on for Forms, here’s some documentation to get you started.

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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Michael Dietz, Senior Group Manager of Connected Car at Hyundai Motor America.

Cars are the next frontier of connected information, but developing safe technology for drivers is no simple task. At Hyundai, we’re invested in delivering the best possible connected services at all times. With a little help from Google and the Google Maps APIs, our Blue Link system does just that. Blue Link acts as a copilot and concierge, guiding people to where they want to go, while keeping drivers’ eyes on the road.

Market research showed us that Hyundai drivers want access to reliable, accurate location information, showing a strong preference for Google Maps. We took these customer requests into account, and in January 2014 began running our Blue Link systems with a destination search engine powered by Google.

Integrating Destination Search powered by Google into Blue Link gives our drivers relevant results, and, most importantly, constantly updated data about the businesses and other locations around them. Before we moved to Google, our customers complained that the location information was stale. For instance, they would search for a restaurant and drive to its address, only to find that it had closed two months ago. Our customers told us they wanted their in-car experience to resemble their smartphone’s, which meant giving them relevant, rich data at their fingertips.

3,000-Mile Test Drive” video series produced by INNOCEAN Worldwide, a cross-country journey highlighting various features of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata.

With the Google Maps APIs, we’ve been able to bring the freshest location data to our Blue Link system — whether using the app on their smartphones, on the Web or in their vehicles. Before they get on the road, drivers can open up the Blue Link mobile app or visit myhyundai.com to search for an address, point of interest or category, then send the destination directly to their car. If they’re already in the car, they can press the Blue Link button and search for a nearby location via voice commands.

Now, more than 400,000 of our vehicles have access to the new service. Since implementing Google technology, we’ve made closer connections with our customers by improving their satisfaction with Blue Link and the Hyundai experience. We’ve also seen more free trial sign-ups and fewer complaints, letting our team focus on bringing new services to our customers.

We’re not about selling a car and then saying goodbye; we’re about building relationships. Making the switch to Google has helped us deliver better connected services, deepen our customers’ engagement with their vehicles, and help keep our drivers safer.

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Editor's note: Today’s guest bloggers are Lawrence Olszak, Director of Technology Services and William Cheaks Jr., Deputy Commissioner of Infrastructure Management at the Chicago Department of Transportation. See how other forward-thinking organizations are investing in mapping technology and transforming their business: Maps are Going Google.

When Rahm Emanuel became mayor of Chicago in 2011, the city’s infrastructure was seriously aging. Under an ambitious program to reinvest in making Chicago a world-class city, we repaved city streets, replaced sewer and gas lines and installed new water pipes all across the city. There were a lot of projects happening and little to no coordination between the 26 different utilities and agencies doing the work.

To better manage the many overlapping projects—which often meant pavement and streets were dug up and restored twice—the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) launched the Project Coordination Office (PCO). The PCO, which is overseen by locally based Collins Engineers, Inc., needed a way to make it easy to share data stored in different siloed databases and display it on a map. The PCO contracted with Google for Work Premier Partner SADA Systems to develop dotMaps, an interactive web mapping service providing collaborative tools that allows people to manage, create and edit, as well as resolve overlapping projects—or conflicts—using geolocation, all in real-time. This application was built on many Google products: Google Maps Engine, the Maps API and Cloud Platform, which offer infrastructure for hosting applications and includes App Engine, a hosted service used for building web applications.
Lawrence Olszak, Director of Technology Services
Before dotMaps, workers spent a lot of time jumping around between different applications in order to validate the accuracy of the data provided. Now, the processes for overseeing projects are streamlined, permit and project data is accessible in one central location and it’s all viewable on a “live” interactive map. We’ve ported information on all the 30,000 current projects, including details like type of project, agency in charge, date of construction and other data, into the dotMaps so agencies can easily search for projects using that information and by address. For instance, users can attach construction contract plans directly into the map so a field inspector can view it on a mobile device while visiting a project site, without having to ask someone in the office to email it. Workers in the field—affectionately dubbed “asphalt helpers”—can search in the mapping application for information on projects, such as why there may be a hole in a sidewalk at any particular intersection. In the past they would have had to make several phone calls to try to find the employee who could answer that question.

Not only is all the data now in one place, we are able to improve our inter- and intra-agency communications. Employees used to share information about new projects and updates in weekly three-hour meetings where dozens of people would provide input. Today, people share that information in real-time directly in the dotMaps. They provide updates, ask questions and communicate via a pop up “chat” window that is displayed just by clicking on a project location marked on a map. Email notifications are sent out to people who need to see the updates.

The new PCO processes and dotMaps mapping solution helps officials to make more informed decisions about scheduling projects which has already saved the city $14.5 million YTD 2014, by eliminating duplicated work—saving resources and reducing the amount of time streets are closed. Citizen complaints about works projects to local officials also have been dramatically reduced. In the future, we plan to use Google satellite imagery, traffic and transit data to make the mapping even more useful. With the help of Google tools we’re on target to rebuild Chicago one construction project at a time.

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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Ian Kalin, Director of Open Data at Socrata, a provider of cloud-based software that helps public sector organizations increase transparency, improve citizen service and make data-driven decisions. Ian is a former U.S. Navy Officer and White House Presidential Innovation Fellow who led open data projects for the U.S. Department of Energy. See how other forward-thinking organizations are investing in mapping technology and transforming their business: Maps are Going Google.

As a former government employee, I know firsthand that there is tons of valuable data locked away in databases and spreadsheets on government computers; data that may never see the light of day. Until recently there was no easy way for citizens to view, use and share that information. Now, technology is liberating data so organizations can use it in new ways.

Socrata publishes its geospatial datasets onto Google Maps Gallery to make it easier to discover and use public sector maps. Before using Maps Gallery, people would have to do separate online searches for different types of information, and hope that it was in a web-browser friendly format. Then they would have to visualize all the data points on a map. Now that we’ve added maps to Google Maps Gallery, users don’t need sophisticated technical skills to get to the data and make it actionable. They can more quickly find answers to their questions — such as, where should I open a restaurant? or which neighborhood should I move into? — then personalize the information to their needs, and make informed decisions.
Using the Socrata platform, the City of Chicago has published several helpful maps on Google Maps Gallery for its residents. This map shows locations of affordable housing developments with contact information for potential renters.
We’re seeing all sorts of exciting things happen with open data projects like these. Governments are becoming more transparent and providing better service to the public, enabling citizens to access and consume information in more useful and beneficial ways. Our partnership with Google Maps means that even more data will be opened up and easier to consume. Displayed on the web’s most popular mapping interface, we’re one step further in ensuring that valuable data is in the hands of the people who need it most.

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Posted by Dr. Naoyuki Kitamura, CEO, Japan’s Medical Network Systems Inc.

Cross-posted on the Google Cloud Platform blog

Japan faces a critical shortage of radiologists. Although major hospitals are well equipped to conduct scans, the scarcity of experts to read them and give patients their diagnoses means that people, especially those in rural areas, often have to wait a long time to discover their results. This can have tragic consequences for people with serious conditions.

To address this shortage and help people get accurate diagnoses faster, Medical Network Systems Inc. (MNES) in Hiroshima started running a remote diagnosis service in 2000. Rather than waiting for patients to come to hospitals, we bring the radiology equipment to them. This teleradiology service has helped combat the challenge of getting scanning technology to people in remote areas; however, we are still short on specialists that can read the scans, and we wanted to find ways to give access to patients in areas without specialists.

Last year, our team started using Google Cloud Platform to power our remote-diagnosis systems. Patients used to be given a hard copy of their scan to take to a doctor or specialist. Moving the process to the cloud speeds everything up. All of our buses are equipped with CT scanning machines, so our technicians upload images and scans right from the bus. Specialists can then log into the system from wherever they’re working and see the scans and diagnose the patient remotely.

Reading scans is a very specialized process. Radiologists must examine lots of images and scans in a very particular sequence, and it’s important that this process isn’t laggy or slow. One of the benefits of using Google’s services is that they can handle massive volumes of information. Google App Engine processes the images and data in the right sequence and enables us to cross reference patient inputs with existing radiographic and pathological information.

Instead of waiting for a few days or a week for a diagnosis, which was the usual turnaround for our teleradiology service, patients get their results within a few hours. And it’s not just our patients benefiting from remote diagnosis; enabling our radiologists to work from anywhere has meant that many of our female specialists are able to stay in the workforce — diagnosing scans while working from home and taking care of their kids. With so few radiologists in Japan, this flexibility helps us keep skilled technicians in the workforce.

We’re optimistic about the potential for cloud-based technology to enrich our understanding of pathological issues and believe it signals a new chapter for the healthcare industry by removing geographical barriers between patients and doctors.

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Editor's note:Today’s guest blogger is Milt Baker, CEO at Blue Water Satellite. BWS is the leading provider of algorithmically enhanced satellite images that identify the presence and concentrations of minerals, vegetation, chemical and biological constituents on land and in water. See how other forward-thinking organizations are investing in mapping technology and transforming their business: Maps are Going Google.

At Blue Water Satellite (BWS) we use satellite imagery to monitor the world's land and water resources. Our goal is to change the way these resources are managed by helping our customers get detailed, real-time data about the minerals, vegetation and chemical constituents on land or in water, anywhere in the world. We’re doing it better and faster now that we we’re using Google Earth Engine and Maps Engine to automate the image-serving process.

Our customers need accurate, digital information about the resources in a particular area. For instance, power plants use our imagery to measure water effluent temperature and ensure they’re complying with cooling regulations. Previously, an engineer would have to travel to take manual samples and send them back to the lab for testing. This provided information about a finite area, but didn’t show what was happening in the entire region over time. Our imaging technology makes it possible to get that data without having to get in a boat or car, take samples, then wait for the results.

The richness of our satellite imagery provides valuable information to our customers, but poses a challenge when it comes to delivering data at scale. After being quoted hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single software product that would automatically process and serve our images, we asked one of our engineers to investigate Google Earth Engine. Using Earth Engine, within three days we had figured out how to integrate the functionality we previously got from multiple products in a unified, high-speed, cloud-based solution. Soon we were processing and delivering our imagery using Earth Engine, without buying expensive hardware and software licenses, or training people to use the software.
Using Google Earth and Maps Engine, BWS can deliver processed images to customers seamlessly formatted for any browser-enabled device — desktop, smartphone, tablet — anywhere in the world. In addition to being familiar and easy-to-use, Google Maps imagery is rich in detail and comprehensive. Google has archived historical shots going back to 1984, which means our customers can see how resources have changed over time and note degradation trends. Google also provides ancillary data, so we can see the names of buildings and other physical objects that are in and around the water and land sites.

With nano-satellites, drones and hyperspectral cameras on the horizon, we’re excited for the future of mapping. Google Earth and Maps Engine are very much a part of that vision too, giving us and our customers the processing power we need to improve the way we use data and solve resource issues on earth.

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Editor's note: Today’s post comes from guest blogger Sanjeev Kumar, Group CIO and Group President – Business Excellence of Adhunik Group, a conglomerate in India with businesses in mining, steel and power. Read Adhunik Group’s full story here.

The name of our business is both a moniker and a reflection of our philosophy: just as 'adhunik' means 'cutting-edge' in Hindi, the Adhunik Group is always looking for new ways to innovate, both in creating better products and services and in making our operations more efficient. Our focus on staying ahead is the key to our success. We are one of the fastest-growing conglomerates in India, overseeing more than 15 mines, three steel plants, 1 merchant power generation unit and 14 offices around the world.

Time is money for the Adhunik Group. Our businesses operate round-the-clock, so project delays, mechanical or IT based, can cost us almost US$1 million a day in penalties and costs. We’re always looking for reliable technology solutions that can improve our business operations.

We adopted cloud computing in 2010, but continued to look for more cost-effective, innovative alternatives as we grew. If we had better visibility into our operations, we could accelerate project delivery and make decisions faster. What we needed was a reliable, intuitive platform in line with our culture of productivity. We found our solution in Google Apps for Work, and moved over with help from our partner, MediaAgility.

We felt the benefits immediately. Our employees feel better connected across the organisation with Google Apps for Work, and are able to respond faster to each other. They’re now more energised and showing much higher morale. The numbers speak for themselves: Google Apps for Work is 70 percent cheaper than our previous solution and yet delivers up to a 15 percent increase in productivity. We also see further cost savings because of its reliability and effectiveness. There’s no need for frequent servicing, IT support or customisation.

The technology has completely transformed the way we work. Teams spread across different business units and locations use Google Sites as an internal project management portal to help them work together, track progress and share ideas. The added visibility provided by Google Sites means that everyone can look for ways to improve project effectiveness and optimise timelines. Today, project timelines are more predictable, so we don’t have to deal with penalties from project delays. Instead of sharing files over email, we now store them in Google Drive, where team members can work on them together at the same time.

Customer relationships have significantly improved too with the help of Google Hangouts. We connected cameras that were already installed at our manufacturing sites around the world to Google Hangouts to show customers how we work in real-time. Our customers love it. They can now see the progress of their orders and be assured that their items will arrive on time. This unique capability helps us stand out in a crowded market.

Google Apps for Work has raised our efficiency levels. With Google Apps for Work driving innovation in the company, Adhunik Group can now truly live up to our name.