Delivering better government services at lower costs with Chrome

Delivering better government services at lower costs with Chrome

Editor’s note: Today’s post comes from Vijay Badal, Director of Application Services of DOTComm. Founded in 2003, DOTComm provides centralized IT support and consulting for 70 government agencies in the city of Omaha and Douglas County, NE. DOTComm uses Chrome browser and G Suite to improve employee productivity and mobility and cut IT costs.

At DOTComm, our employees provide technical support for more than 5,000 government workers throughout Omaha and Douglas County. Because these workers are spread across 120 different locations, our employees need access to the tools they need to do their jobs whether they’re in the office or on site with our customers. Several years ago, we realized the legacy systems we were using were getting in the way.

When employees had to travel to provide technical support for the government agencies we serve, they didn’t have mobile access to important documents, or the ability to share and send files back to the office, such as videos that outlined technical issues. In addition, hardware and licensing were costly, and inflexible productivity applications were making it difficult for employees to collaborate or work from the road. Plus, we needed half a dozen employees just to maintain our infrastructure!

To solve these challenges, we turned to Chrome and G Suite. Chrome is fast, secure and gives our staff access to thousands of useful extensions. It’s also allowed us to standardize across our desktop and mobile devices. G Suite has helped us cut hardware costs and improve collaboration and mobility. With Chrome and G Suite, we no longer pay thousands of dollars in annual licensing fees, and we’ve reduced the number of people managing infrastructure from six to one, freeing up the other five people to work on different tasks.

Chrome’s extensions have been big productivity boosters. One extension syncs the staffs’ Google calendars with their Salesforce calendars. Previously, employees had to check two separate apps and cross-reference two separate calendars. Now they only need to check one. Another extension gives staff mobile access to Google Docs and Google Sheets. This means they can work nearly anywhere. When they’re out of the office, or in the field, they can create and share files on any device they need.

As an IT department, we’re particularly pleased with the security and other IT benefits we get with Google. Chrome has built-in malware and phishing protection, and we use the G Suite admin console to ensure all user downloads are stored on the same network drive so they can be checked for malware. The G Suite admin console lets us control Chrome settings for employees, including adding extensions on whitelists so employees can use them, pushing recommended extensions to users, and rolling out Chrome updates on a scheduled timeframe. That’s made our IT administrators’ lives much easier and has been a huge timesaver. And because we centrally manage the rollout of extensions for new employees, individual city and departments no longer need to have a dedicated IT person working on new hire application orientation. So we save time and money with each new hire.

Meanwhile, the number of help tickets for IT support has plummeted, from 30 a day to one or two. For example, we no longer have to deal with local archive files, which means our staff spends less time troubleshooting and the government employees we serve don’t waste time wrestling with unfamiliar technology. Productivity has increased as well. For example, City Police, City Fire, and County Health departments all use shared Google Sheets within their individual precincts for shift change management. This allows them to roll over shift changes swiftly and efficiently, without missing any critical ongoing task assignments.

Chrome browser and G Suite have allowed us to offer more secure and productive IT services to all City of Omaha and Douglas County employees, who are then able to better serve citizens. DOTComm and the City of Omaha were recently honored as one of “Top 10 Cities” by the Center for Digital Government in its Digital Cities Survey 2016, which recognizes cities that use technology to improve citizen services, enhance transparency and encourage citizen engagement. This marked the first time the City of Omaha made the list—but I predict it won’t be the last now that we’re using Chrome browser and G Suite.

Google Home Mini has arrived—here’s what you can do with it

Google Home Mini has arrived—here’s what you can do with it

A few weeks ago we unveiled Google Home Mini, the newest addition to the Google Home family. About the size of a donut, it has all the smarts of the Google Assistant and gives you hands-free help in any room of your house. Starting today, you can grab it online from the Google Store or online or on shelves of Best Buy, Walmart, Target and other stores.

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Just start with “Hey Google” to get answers from your Google Assistant, tackle your day, enjoy music or TV shows, and control your compatible smart home devices. And with Voice Match, the Assistant can tell your voice from others—up to six people can get personal assistance on each device.

Here are six fun things you can do with your Mini:

  1. Find my phone: When you lose your phone in the couch cushions, your Assistant can find it for you. “Hey Google, find my phone” will ring your Android phone (even if it’s on silent) or your iPhone.
  2. Set a sleep timer: Fall asleep to the sweet sounds of your favorite music or podcast by saying, “Hey Google, set a sleep timer for 30 minutes.”
  3. Play news by voice on your TV: Stay on top of current events with YouTube news playlists from sources like ABC, Fox and NBC. With a Chromecast-connected TV, you can ask say: “Hey Google, play the news on my TV” or “Ok Google, play sports news on my TV.”
  4. Turn the TV on and off: With Google Home, Chromecast, and a compatible TV you can just say “Hey Google, turn off the TV.”
  5. Enable night mode: In night mode, Mini’s lights dim and the volume lowers so that you you don’t disturb others in your household when it’s late (or early).
  6. Set a default TV or speaker: Choose a Chromecast-connected TV to be your default screen, so you don’t need to mention the device’s name in your voice command. When you say “Play yoga videos,” they’ll play on the TV you’ve set as the default. It works the same way for speakers connected to Chromecast Audio—you can designate a group of speakers that cover several rooms (“first floor,” for example) as the default. Then say “Hey Google, play workout playlist” and it will automatically start playing on that group of speakers.

You can start using these features today with any Google Home or Google Home Mini—and stay tuned for lots more to come!

From paw prints to a digital footprint: a tailor shop attracts new customers

From paw prints to a digital footprint: a tailor shop attracts new customers

A chubby French Bulldog keeps watch in front of a vintage-looking tailor shop in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. Meet Bruno, the face of Village Tailor and Cleaners. Vince, the shop’s owner, immigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was just 18 years old, establishing Village Tailor in 1977. Today, his family-run business has grown into three locations and is best known for its skilled leather and suede alterations. Inside the shop, a wall covered in autographed photos of celebrity customers—Celine Dion, Marc Anthony, Elton John, and others—is a testament to the iconic quality of Vince’s work.

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Vince and Bruno outside the shop.

While Bruno had been doing a wonderful job bringing in passersby, Vince knew he needed a way to stand out from the many tailoring shops in SoHo and reach more customers.

Vince noticed that most of his customers were walking in with a bag of clothes in one hand, and researching local businesses on their cell phone with the other. So, he decided to get his business online. He saw it as similar to Bruno sitting out front: their online presence could spark curiosity, help them stand out, and invite in new customers.

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Bruno is on the lookout for new customers … and treats.

He set up Village Tailor’s Google listing, so that he could edit how his business appears when people find it on Google Search and Maps. He added photos to his listing, posted updates about his skilled alterations, and used Google website builder to create a free high-quality website from his phone in less than 10 minutes. Now, when he asks new customers how they found his shop, they often mention Google.

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Having an online presence not only helped Vince reach new customers, but it allowed him to build relationships with his existing customers by responding to reviews. Knowing that people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, reviews are an opportunity to adapt his business to customers’ needs. The results have been great for Village Tailor: within weeks of getting online, Vince noticed they were bringing in on average five more customers per week. After three months, that number increased to 15 per week, representing a 30% revenue increase per year for Vince. 

The store’s early success with Google My Business inspired Vince to try AdWords, advertising to potential customers searching on Google for keywords related to tailoring. Since customers raved about the leather and suede work in Village Tailor’s Google reviews, Vince focused on those services in his online ads which brought in even more revenue. That meant he could hire more tailors and invest in new equipment to keep up with the long lines of customers. Now, while Bruno will always have a place in front of Village Tailor, Google brings in most of their customers. Sorry Bruno!

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Father and son: two generations of excellence in alterations.

Today, Vince’s son Vincent Jr. manages Vince’s Village Cobbler, the shoe repair shop next door. Building on the family business’s tradition of excellent craftsmanship in shoes and leather goods, he continues to develop Village Cobbler’s online presence with an e-commerce website that offers shipping all over the U.S. He also plans to find new customers with Google My Business and Google AdWords, just like his father has, to keep the family business growing. 

Google Play’s Indie Games Contest is back in Europe. Enter now

Google Play’s Indie Games Contest is back in Europe. Enter now

Posted by Adriana Puchianu, Developer Marketing Google Play

Following last year’s success, today we’re announcing the second annual Google Play Indie Games Contest in Europe, expanding to more countries and bigger prizes. The contest rewards your passion, creativity and innovation, and provides support to help bring your game to more people.

Prizes for the finalists and winners

  • A trip to London to showcase your game at the Saatchi Gallery
  • Paid digital marketing campaigns worth up to 100,000 EUR
  • Influencer campaigns worth up to 50,000 EUR
  • Premium placements on Google Play
  • Promotion on Android and Google Play marketing channels
  • Tickets to Google I/O 2018 and other top industry events
  • Latest Google hardware
  • Special prizes for the best Unity games

How to enter the contest

If you’re based in one of the 28 eligible countries, have 30 or less full time employees, and published a new game on Google Play after 1 January 2017, you may now be eligible to enter the contest. If you’re planning on publishing a new game soon, you can also enter by submitting a private beta. Check out all the details in the terms and conditions. Submissions close on 31 December 2017.

Up to 20 finalists will showcase their games at an open event at the Saatchi Gallery in London on the 13th February 2018. At the event, the top 10 will be selected by the event attendees and the Google Play team. The top 10 will then pitch to the jury of industry experts, from which the final winner and runners up will be selected.

Come along to the final event

Anyone can register to attend the final showcase event at the Saatchi Gallery in London on 13 February 2018. Play some great indie games and have fun with indie developers,industry experts, and the Google Play team.

Enter now

Visit the contest site to find out more and enter the Indie Games Contest now.

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HP: Reinventing The Magic of Printing

HP: Reinventing The Magic of Printing

User experience (UX) design is about much more than just creating an interface that is beautiful to look at. The best UX design allows users to intuitively grasp how something works. Every choice, from color to size to placement, can change a user’s experience from frustration into delight and help the customer get the most from their technology.