Google for India 2021 event highlights: The annual Google for India event (7th edition) commenced today, November 18. The event started with VP Sanjay Gupta giving a keynote on Google’s initiative and partnership with Indian companies, its vision of bringing a safer space for a billion users in India, and how the ‘Internet has become a critical enabler’ for business including SMBs.
Over the course of the event, Google announced a bunch of products from- Google Career certificates for which it has partnered with Coursera, emphasis on localizing Google Voice Assistant to support end-to-end vaccination flow, Google Search new feature that will now answer queries in local languages, to Google Look to Speak that will now support five additional Indian languages.
Notably, Google has taken initiative for women’s healthcare and is working in collaboration with local authorities on climate-related efforts in the country. Nofar Peled Levi, Product Manager, Crisis Response & Weather at Google mentions Google’s commitment to being carbon-free by 2030. She notes that Google will provide real-time alerts for extreme weather events. To show these alerts Google has partnered and said to have closely worked with India Meteorological Department (IMD). Google has even partnered with Central Pollution Control Board to bring the latest AQI to Google Search. One can find about AQI by simply typing AQI near me in Google Search which will show relevant results.
An important take on women’s healthcare in India, Google cited its plan to initiate AI for the benefits of pregnant women in rural areas. For this, Google has brought Mitra program in partnership with non-profit Armman. This program aims at using AI to help women who are pregnant and lack access to basic healthcare. For the uninitiated, mMitra that began its journey in 2013, is a free mobile voice call service that sends timed and targeted preventive care information weekly/bi-weekly directly to the phones of the enrolled women through pregnancy and infancy in their chosen language and timeslot. The program has reached 2.5 million women and children.
Armman partnered with Google Research India and IIT Madras for a study on using AI to predict listeners who are at high risk of disengagement from the mMitra program in 2020. Notably, Armman was one among six programs supported by Google Research India in 2020.
Dr. Aparna Hegde, founder and managing trustee of Armman said that with the program running in 19 states and with the enormous data it gets difficult to keep a tab. Dr. Hedge cited AI to benefit and possibly point in the right direction. While mMitra is based in Maharashtra, the total reach of Armman’s programs is spread to 19 states and union territories in India via the organisation’s other programs.
The program taking benefits from AI can pinpoint those that are more at risk, and make sure they get better access to the service. Google has partnered with the non-profit organisation for this program to help retrieve women back into the program and save their lives during pregnancies. Dr. Milind Tambe, Director, AI for Social Good Google Research India cited the idea of advancement in AI research that could reach underserved communities that have never had access to benefits before. He explains the data that Armman will collect as part of the Mitra program from each beneficiary that includes- age, income level, number of children, etc. Milind mentioned on the AI model with Armman and took samples from past beneficiaries, learn listening behaviour, and predicts who would need to re-engage for the service. Google notes that the AI-powered intervention increased engagement by 30 percent of ‘women at high risk of dropping out’ and was sent a support call.
With Google’s funding, Armman is expected to expand AI-based predictions to more than a million mothers and children in the coming years.