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Editor's note: Since the launch of Google Maps ten years ago, maps have come a long way. To celebrate a decade of map innovation, we’re highlighting unique maps built by our developer community. Read how guest blogger, Jacinda Shelly, Lead Platform Engineer for Doctor on Demand, uses the Google Maps APIs to bring unique mapping experiences to users.

Maps can do much more for an online business than help people get from point A to point B. You might not think that a website for making video appointments with medical professionals would benefit from mapping — but at Doctor on Demand, maps connect our patients to physicians faster, and allow physicians to prescribe medications at the right pharmacies. Google Maps make our user experience much more satisfying, which means patients will use our service again.

We use the Google Maps APIs, including the Geolocation and Javascript APIs, to show patients a map of nearby pharmacies before they start a video call with a medical professional. For our users, maps make it easy and convenient to connect with physicians and pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy. But maps can be helpful for other businesses in other ways. Now that we see the great value of incorporating reliable map functionality into our app, we'd love to share how you can do the same:

  • Choose a familiar interface. Use a map that’s easy for people to navigate – if it’s hard to understand and requires extensive instructions, they won’t use it. We picked Google Maps because our patients know them well.

  • Configure maps for many platforms. If your users find maps helpful on your desktop website, they’ll want to use maps from any browser or device. We’ve made sure our maps work just as well on iOS and Android devices as they do on a desktop computer.

  • Maintain accuracy. In our case, we have to update the geolocation information for about 65,000 pharmacies across the country every evening. We use the Google Maps Geocoding API, which minimizes the time it takes to keep our map accurate. We keep a database of all pharmacies from Surescripts, a healthcare network, and each night we get an update to that database that adds, removes, and updates pharmacies and their locations. We use the Google Maps Javascript API to place the pharmacies on our map when a patient is asked to select a pharmacy.

  • Help users save time and make better choices. Before we built our pharmacy map, patients had to tell doctors which pharmacy they wanted to use. Then doctors emailed us the details. However, our support team had to follow up with doctors and patients to make sure we had the right pharmacy, since patients might say something like, “the drugstore down the street from my house.” Today, there’s no doubt about which pharmacy is the right one, since patients can clearly see their local outlets on the map.

Our pharmacy map inspires us to think about new ways to use maps in the future – like plotting the movement of cold and flu outbreaks and sharing this information with patients and doctors. We see a direct connection between maps and improving patient care. In the grand scheme, Google Maps improves the health of our patients, and, the health of our business.


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Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Mats Randleff, IT Director for Stockholm, Sweden-based Polygon Group, a global provider of property damage restoration, temporary humidity control and property performance services. 

When disaster strikes, Polygon Group is often the first call companies make to help restore their facilities and critical documents. We also provide services like humidity control to prevent property damage, and consult on business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Nearly two-thirds of our 2,800-employees are mobile, so we can be on the spot for our customers whenever we’re needed.
Every minute counts when companies are trying to get back to business after a fire or flood, so our field technicians need reliable communication tools. We used various email systems across our 300 offices, but they needed rigorous IT support to stay up and running. We looked to the cloud for a single system our entire workforce could use and considered Microsoft 365 and IBM SmartCloud (since we’d been using Lotus Notes), but Google Apps stood out as a single, secure system with all the functionality we needed.

We believed our employees would quickly embrace Google tools, since Android was already our most widely used platform for mobile devices. When we tested Google Apps with 50 managers throughout Polygon and saw a 95% satisfaction rate, we wasted no time rolling out Apps to more than 1,900 users worldwide.

Since moving to Apps in spring 2013, we’ve achieved significant cost savings. We’ve reduced travel expenses because our workers use video-conferencing on Hangouts to meet rather than coordinate costly and time-consuming in-person meetings. IT support costs are down, too. In fact, compared to our previous Lotus Notes environment, our cost per user is about 50% less – which translates to about $480,000 in annual savings.

Global cooperation has also improved, particularly because group managers have embraced Google Sites as a strategic tool. They’ve created sites for business systems used to report on each group’s operational performance. Managers can monitor financial metrics, key performance indicators, and other information in a single environment that’s easy to use and share. We plan to create sites for our country management teams to track business performance for each region.

Google Apps opens up new ways of working at all levels within Polygon, from managers to field technicians. What began as a search for a new email system has evolved into a complete overhaul of our communications. Today, thousands of Polygon employees across more than a dozen countries communicate and collaborate with ease using Google Apps. The greatest benefit for us is that we now can provide a faster, more effective response to businesses in the challenging and courageous position of overcoming natural disaster.

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At its core, work is about people coming together to fuse ideas, perspectives and passions into broader, rounder visions. It’s about connecting in that sweet spot between inspiration and launch. To achieve this, we have many partners – our teammates – that work together with us every day. To honor our partners and our shared focus to provide more for our customers on every level, we hosted TeamWork 2015. 800 Premier Partners and 200 Googlers joined live with hundreds more tuning in via livestream, for three days of thought leadership, networking, knowledge sharing and, well, teamwork.

Investing in our teammates
At TeamWork this year, we took the time to share our vision for 2015 and beyond, shaped by the real-time input of our partners.

In December we launched the Google for Work and Education Partner Program, designed to help our partners better innovate across the Google for Work and Education suite of products and platforms. At the summit, we shared full details about this new program and heard directly from partners about what they need to grow in the future.

We also shared the news about Android for Work – a new and better way to work on the powerful mobile devices that we carry with us wherever we go, and a vast opportunity for our partners to develop and deliver innovative IT solutions to their customers.

Celebrating our teammates
Our partners work every day to make sure customers get the most out of the technology and services they use. They’re thought leaders who solve real problems and drive the market forward. We closed out TeamWork by awarding our 2014 Partners of the Year.

We look forward to the work that we’ll continue to do with our partners this year to provide greater tools, services and access for our customers.

Check out what partners are saying about this year’s summit by searching #TeamWork2015 via G+ and Twitter. Go team!

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(Cross-posted on the Android Blog.)

Over a billion people today carry Android smartphones—devices that are more powerful than the computers we used just a few years ago.

For many, these phones have become essential tools to help us complete important work tasks like checking email, editing documents, reviewing sales pipelines and approving deals. But for the majority of workers, smartphones and tablets are underutilized in the workplace. Their business and innovation potential remain largely untapped.

Today we're announcing the Android for Work program to tap into that potential. With a group of partners, we're helping businesses bring more devices to work by securing, managing and innovating on the Android platform.

Android for Work features four key technology components:

  • Work profiles – We’ve built on the default encryption, enhanced SELinux security enforcement and multi-user support in Android 5.0, Lollipop to create a dedicated work profile that isolates and protects work data. IT can deploy approved work apps right alongside their users' personal apps knowing their sensitive data remains secured. People can use their personal apps knowing their employer only manages work data and won’t erase or view their personal content.
  • Android for Work app – For devices running Ice Cream Sandwich through Kitkat, or that don’t run work profiles natively, we’ve created the Android for Work app. The app, which delivers secure mail, calendar, contacts, documents, browsing and access to approved work apps, can be completely managed by IT.
  • Google Play for Work – Google Play for Work allows businesses to securely deploy and manage apps across all users running Android for Work, simplifying the process of distributing apps to employees and ensuring that IT approves every deployed app.
  • Built-in productivity tools – For everyday business tasks, we’ve created a suite of business apps for email, contacts and calendar, which supports both Exchange and Notes and provides document editing capabilities for documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
We’re joined by a number of partners as part of the Android for Work program, including many familiar names within the Android ecosystem:
Our partners bring IT:

  • Consistent management – Enterprise mobility management (EMM) providers integrate with standardized management APIs to create a simple way to manage all Android devices, new and old, from one dashboard. All Android for Work capabilities are delivered through EMM partners, with more providers available soon.
  • Secure business apps – Software vendors and developers can create a single version of any Google Play app that can be securely deployed to any Android device without alterations or wrapping. And they can create standard management configurations that allow IT to apply policies per app.
  • Innovative devices – Android smartphone and tablet makers are a key part of the Android for Work program, as they create devices and experiences that add additional value for customers.

Together with a wide range of management, application and device makers, we believe the Android for Work program provides businesses and workers with the choice and flexibility they need to get things done at work.

Learn more by visiting google.com/work/android.


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Have you ever felt like your inbox was someone else’s to-do list? Requests, project updates and action items stream in all day. You move between your computer and the phone in your pocket to try to manage, and instead of focusing on the most important things, you find yourself focusing on the most recent things. No matter the device, email should feel like a time saver, but instead it feels like a chore.

This is why we created Inbox by Gmail, to help you focus on the things that matter to you. Since we launched five months ago, one of the biggest pieces of feedback we’ve received is that Google Apps customers want access to Inbox at work. That’s why we're excited to kick off the next phase of our journey: collaborating with you to bring Inbox to work.

Even before the first invitations went out to use Inbox for your own email, Googlers have been using it to get more done at work. Whether it’s snoozing the expense report notification until after the big presentation, or adding a reminder to schedule lunch with a favorite client, Inbox helps put email on your terms. And since Inbox was built on the same infrastructure as Gmail, it meets the same high security standards you expect from email.
Of course, every company and every person is different, so we want to get more input on how Inbox will work at your company. Starting next month, we’ll begin enabling Inbox for a small group of Google Apps customers to learn about their needs, challenges and use cases.
  • Do you want to use Inbox as your primary email at work?
  • Are employees at your company heavy mobile users?
  • Most importantly, do you want to partner with Google on user studies to help build the new work Inbox?
If you answered “yes, yes and yes!” then email inboxforwork@google.com from your Google Apps for Work administrator account to apply for an invitation to the early adopter program. To start, we plan to work very closely with the early adopter companies, so not everyone that applies will be accepted right away, but the program will continue to expand over the coming months.

Inbox wasn’t created to reinvent email, Inbox was created to help you reinvent the way you get things done. This means we need to understand more about how things get done (or don’t) today. And with your feedback, who knows, we could reinvent the way people work.

Note: Only the Google Apps administrator can apply for entry to the Inbox for work early adopter program.

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Companies of all sizes across a number of industries have come to realize that cloud computing is transforming the way they run their business and how people work together. This is especially true for the healthcare industry, where access to information quickly, accurately and securely is vitally important.

That’s why organizations covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) rely on Google’s robust infrastructure to store personal healthcare information. We provide the healthcare industry with the tools they need to help address HIPAA compliance and allow employees to have access to their information when they need it, where they need it. HIPAA compliance coverage for Google Apps for Work services includes Gmail, Calendar, Google Drive (including Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms), Vault and Sites. New and existing Google Apps customers may obtain a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) from our Google Apps Help Center.

With millions of customers using Google Apps, HIPAA compliance is a critical feature for businesses and organizations that handle health care information, and an important consideration for hospitals, health organizations and governments. Joe Ganneman, CIO for Rockford Orthopedics, a leading bone and joint center in Illinois, believes that “from a HIPAA compliance standpoint, you are actually in a better shape by putting your data in a cloud infrastructure like Google's, than you are trying to store it locally.” And Flint Waters, CIO for the State of Wyoming, says that “using Google Apps made us confident we would meet strict HIPAA requirements and demonstrate to our citizens that their data was on one of the most secure architectures out there.”

HIPAA is just one of many regulations and standards Google supports, empowering our customers across different industries to benefit from the cloud. For organizations operating in highly regulated sectors, the use of Google’s services provides the tools and protections needed to meet compliance requirements.

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Editor's note: Today’s post comes from Henrik Poulsen at Arbejdernes Landsbank, a full service retail bank in Denmark. Arbejdernes Landsbank recently introduced Chromebooks to help customers become more digitally savvy.

Many people open their mailboxes to find dozens of envelopes from financial institutions with information they can easily find online. As a retail bank, most of our customers are used to receiving bank statements and loan documents via snail mail, but that’s about to change. At the end of 2014, the Danish Government mandated that all citizens receive mail from the public sector online. At Arbejdernes Landsbank, we’re helping our customers adapt to a new era of digital banking in 2015.
Before we started prioritizing this digital service, customers struggled to access their online information when they visited a branch location. They had to bring their own devices since using the bank’s devices could expose customer data to security issues. Customers brought different devices with varying network settings, so often our employees spent time dealing with technical computer issues, rather than helping the customer. This was not just time-consuming, but resulted in poor customer service and security issues. Keeping data secure in the financial industry isn’t an option; it’s a requirement.

We introduced Chromebooks in January 2015 because they’re secure and easy to use. In each of our 70 branches, we have a Chromebook set up as a kiosk for customers to log onto our website and access income and loan documents, digitally sign customer agreements and refer to electronic statements. We can create a setting so the data one customer accesses is completely wiped before the next customer uses the device. Customers feel comfortable disclosing sensitive information using the Chromebooks because they know their information is safe. Setup for each device requires about two minutes of our IT team’s time, and the device can be managed remotely.

Chromebooks help our customers become more digitally savvy while streamlining time-intensive processes, like completing and mailing in paperwork. When a customer needs to access their income information for a loan, they can pull it up online while at the branch, rather than going home and mailing it. Instead of waiting for the next teller, customers help themselves using the Chromebook. Employees spend their time helping customers who need immediate attention, which allows us to deliver higher quality service.

Introducing Chromebooks has helped us keep sensitive information secure while providing peace of mind for our customers and familiarizing them with digital banking — all without placing a burden on our IT resources. As we pioneer new digital technologies, we look forward to serving as an educational resource for our customers and making it easier for them to manage their finances anytime and anywhere.