Google opens up data analytics programme to local undergrads for first time in tie-up with SMU

SINGAPORE – Singapore Management University (SMU) undergraduates looking to enter the data and analytics sector are getting a leg up.

The university on Thursday (Jan 31) signed an agreement with Google Singapore to offer the SMU-Google Squared Data & Analytics Programme.

The partnership marks the first time Google is extending its programme, launched in 2014, to undergraduates of a local university.

It had previously been run as a collaboration between Google and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) under the latter’s TechSkills Accelerator initiative, and was open to fresh graduates in Singapore.

The programme will now be available only to SMU undergraduates.

Under the work-study programme, students will undergo a six-month internship at a Google partner company and earn credit.

They will also return to campus for up to one day a week during term time to read up to two additional courses.

Google Singapore’s country director Stephanie Davis said the tie-up made sense, as Google was looking to scale up the programme due to broad trends in the digital economy and increasing demand from employers for Squared Data trainees.

“The feedback was positive over the first four years of the programme, and over time it only strengthened. We were also learning of the successful careers that graduates were embarking upon and even greater demand from employers in the marketplace,” said Ms Davis.

“The good news then was, how do we work together to scale, and that’s when, with the IMDA, we began looking for a partnerships with a local university.

“SMU, with its long-time commitment to working with data and analytics, just seemed like the perfect solution.”

The inaugural batch of 25 students is in the midst of completing a 12-week digital analytics technology course prerequisite, including sessions with industry subject matter experts from Google and its partners.

In previous years, this component was a six-week full-time affair.

The students are due to start their internships with the likes of Dentsu Aegis Network, Grab and Expedia in May.

A second batch of 50 students is expected to follow later this year. This would represent a significant increase in programme graduates, of which there are more than 90 from the programme’s first four years.

SMU president Lily Kong said work-study electives and longer internships provide an optimal balance between institution-based learning and on-the-job training.

“Through the programme, our students will gain valuable experience and obtain a better understanding of the demands and opportunities in these industries,” said Professor Kong.

Google Squared Data & Analytics programme and SMU alumnus Jordon Yuen, 28, said data and analytics cut across all sectors in the business world, making such a skill set very valuable.

“You will be able to apply what you’ve learnt across a very wide range of real-world situations and I feel it’s important for business students to have some kind of data and analytics background,” said Mr Yuen, who graduated from SMU in 2016 and is now an analytics manager with advertising data agency Essence.

Infocomm professionals are in high demand in Singapore.

The economy currently employs about 200,000 infocomm and media professionals, with a 2017 IMDA survey projecting demand for infocomm professionals to rise by 28,500 between 2018 and 2020.

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Google Doodle celebrates nasi lemak

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Today’s Google Doodle highlights one of Malaysia’s popular dishes, nasi lemak.

Google says the rich, fragrant, and spicy dish is believed to have originated as a hearty breakfast for farmers on the Malaysian peninsula’s west coast. It also notes that the dish is also popular in neighbouring Singapore and Thailand.

“Although the name translates from Malay as ‘rich rice’ (a reference to the coconut milk included in the recipe) there is another origin story for the name. According to legend, the daughter of a widow named Mak Kuntum accidentally spilled coconut milk into the rice pot. ‘What did you cook?’ Mak asked and her daughter answered ‘Nasi le, Mak!’ (Rice, mother!),” says Google.

It notes that there are many versions of nasi lemak, each reflecting Malaysia’s multi-ethnic melting pot of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and other indigenous and imported cultures.

It adds that the fundamental recipe – as featured in the video – is rice cooked with santan or coconut milk and flavoured with pandan (screwpine leaves) and galangal root, served with ikan bilis (fried anchovies), crispy peanuts (skin on), sliced cucumber, hard-boiled egg, and sambal (chilli paste) or a splash of tamarind juice, with an optional piece of fried chicken or beef rendang on the side.

The video depicts how nasi lemak and its accompaniments are made, from the boiling of rice, frying of peanuts, anchovies and chicken, and serving it with sambal or packed in banana leaf.

The doodle by illustrator Alyssa Winans also features music by composer Silas Hite. Google says nasi lemak is often sold at roadside stalls in a bungkus – wrapped in banana leaf or brown paper – and is so popular that it is also eaten for lunch and dinner, too.

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French regulator orders Google to take measures on advertising

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s competition regulator has ordered Google to take measures regarding some of its advertising methods, saying these had hit French firm Amadeus which runs a directory service in France.

“Google will need to quickly clarify the rules for its Google Ads online advertising platform that apply to electronic paid information services in order to make them more precise and intelligible and to ensure their application under non-discriminatory conditions,” the regulator said in a statement.

Its decision comes a few weeks after France’s data protection watchdog fined Google 50 million euros ($57.5 million) for breaching European Union online privacy rules, the biggest such penalty levied against a U.S. tech giant.

($1 = 0.8703 euros)

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France uses new EU data law to fine Google 50 million euros

PARIS (AFP) – France’s data watchdog on Monday (Jan 21) announced a fine of 50 million euros (S$77.3 million) for US search giant Google, using the EU’s strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for the first time.

Google was handed the record fine from the CNIL regulator for failing to provide transparent and easily accessible information on its data consent policies, a statement said.

The CNIL said Google made it too difficult for users to understand and manage preferences on how their personal information is used, in particular with regards to targeted advertising.

“People expect high standards of transparency and control from us. We’re deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

“We’re studying the decision to determine our next steps.”

The ruling follows complaints lodged by two advocacy groups last May, shortly after the landmark GDPR directive came into effect.

One was filed on behalf of some 10,000 signatories by France’s Quadrature du Net group, while the other was by None Of Your Business, created by the Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems.

Schrems had accused Google of securing “forced consent” through the use of pop-up boxes online or on its apps which imply that its services will not be available unless people accept its conditions of use.

“Also, the information provided is not sufficiently clear for the user to understand the legal basis for targeted advertising is consent, and not Google’s legitimate business interests,” the CNIL said.

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Australian businesses complain Google sending outback tourists off the map

SYDNEY (AFP) – Tourism operators in Australia’s vast outback say wild inaccuracies in Google Maps are making remote hot spots appear out of reach, deterring people from visiting the region.

A number of businesses promoting their small towns as remote tourist destinations in the north-eastern state of Queensland complain of cases where a typical six-hour drive has been estimated by Google Maps to take up to 11 hours.

The complaints prompted the Queensland government to write to Google, which on Wednesday (Jan 16) promised to look into the issue.

“People aren’t coming to places because they think it takes too long, or they’re missing opportunities to refuel and they’re getting sent off on another road that has no fuel,” Mr Robyn Mackenzie, of the Eromanga Natural History Museum, told national broadcaster ABC.

“People will get frightened of travelling in the outback because they don’t have any confidence in the mapping,” the general manager of the small town museum added.

Mr Peter Homan of the Queensland Outback Tourism Association told AFP that people were put off by inaccuracies of “anywhere up to six or seven hours” in the driving times provided by Google Maps.

He said mapping errors in the sparse outback had also directed people off main roads and on to vast private properties that can spread over 32,400 sq km – roughly the size of Belgium.

“Sometimes you can drive for half a day before you actually see anything that is going to alert you that you are not on the road to where you want to go, but that you’re on someone’s property, because it is so big.”

The complaints from a region reeling from years of severe drought prompted the state government to write to Google this week.

“We are so dependent on these apps now to get us around cities, to get us around towns and to get us around big states like Queensland,” acting Queensland premier Cameron Dick told the ABC.

“We need to ensure that those apps and the information they are providing are as accurate as possible.”

Google, which says it takes its mapping data from a variety of sources, including public information and data from users, said it was investigating the concerns.

“Google Maps strives to accurately model and reflect the real world,” the company said in a statement.

“We are investigating to see what may have happened here and will take the appropriate action. We apologise if any businesses or communities have been affected negatively due to errors on the map.”

People unprepared for the extreme conditions have been lost in the Aussie outback, which has prompted calls for greater network coverage in remote areas and for the authorities to warn the public to carefully plan for the tough environment.

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New Zealand warns Google over naming man charged with murdering British backpacker

WELLINGTON (AFP) – New Zealand warned Google to “take responsibility” for its news content on Wednesday (Dec 19), after the Internet giant broke a court order suppressing the name of a man charged with murdering a British backpacker.

An Auckland court granted the man interim name suppression this month but Google revealed his identity in an e-mail to subscribers of its “what’s trending in New Zealand?” service.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said the breach was unacceptable and he had made his views known to Google executives at a meeting in Parliament on Tuesday night.

While Google has argued the breach was inadvertent and it was unaware of the court order when the automatically generated e-mail went out, Mr Little said that was not good enough.

“I put the ball back in their court,” he told commercial radio on Wednesday.

“If they choose to set up their algorithms and distribute news, they’ve got to take responsibility for that.”

The case concerns the murder of British tourist Grace Millane, 22, whose body was found earlier this month just outside Auckland, resulting in a 26-year-old man being arrested and charged.

The case generated intense interest in New Zealand and Britain, where some media outlets have also named the accused, arguing that the court order does not apply to them.

Mr Little said he met two local Google executives, and a senior legal counsel from the company’s California headquarters joined them by video.

He said they appeared genuinely concerned about the breach and assured him they were working to ensure it did not happen again, with another meeting scheduled for early next year to assess their progress.

Mr Little conceded that controlling information on the Internet and social media was challenging but said court orders were made for a reason and must be respected.

“We can’t just stand back and say this is all too hard,” he said.

“The price of that (would be) we have to capitulate and concede what are very important rights that anyone going through the courts has.”

He said the case highlighted the potential need for an international agreement if Google “won’t do anything (or) can’t do anything” to resolve the issue.

“They can expect us to talk to partner countries around the world who have a similar interest… about reaching an agreement to enforce each others’ orders in each others’ countries,” he said.

“That may well happen inevitably anyway because it’s not just Google, there are others as well and we have to protect the integrity of our court system.”

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Australian bid to force tech firms to hand over encrypted data passes first hurdle

SYDNEY (REUTERS) – The Australian Parliament’s Lower House passed a Bill to force tech firms such as Alphabet’s Google, Facebook and Apple to give police access to encrypted data on Thursday (Dec 6), pushing it closer to becoming a precedent-setting law.

However, the proposal, staunchly opposed by the tech giants because Australia is seen as a test case as other nations explore similar rules, faces a sterner test in the Upper House Senate, where privacy and information security concerns are sticking points.

The Bill provides for fines of up to A$10 million (S$9.9 million) for institutions and prison terms for individuals for failing to hand over data linked to suspected illegal activities.

Earlier in the week, it appeared set to secure enough support from both major political parties, with some amendments, to secure passage. However, the main opposition Labor party said on Thursday the Bill could undermine data security and jeopardise future information sharing with United States authorities.

“A range of stakeholders have said there is a real risk that the new powers could make Australians less safe… (by) weakening the encryption that protects national infrastructure,” Labor’s Mark Dreyfus told Parliament.

The proposed laws could also scupper cooperation with US authorities because they lack sufficient privacy safeguards, Mr Dreyfus said. Labor voted the Bill through the Lower House but was still negotiating with the government on the issue and would debate it in the Senate, he said.

Thursday was the last parliamentary sitting day of the year until a truncated session in February, meaning the impasse could delay the laws for months.

The government has said the proposed laws are needed to counter militant attacks and organised crime, and that security agencies would need to seek warrants to access personal data.

“I will fight to get those encryption laws passed,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra after Mr Dreyfus spoke. “I want to see our police have the powers they need to stop terrorists.”

Technology companies have strongly opposed efforts to create what they see as a back door to users’ data, a stand-off that was propelled into the public arena by Apple’s refusal to unlock an iPhone used by an attacker in a 2015 shooting in California.

Representatives of Google, Amazon and Apple did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Apple has said in a public submission to lawmakers access to encrypted data would necessitate weakening the encryption and increase the risk of hacking.

A Facebook spokesman directed Reuters to a statement made by the Digital Industry Group Inc (DIGI), of which Facebook as well as Apple, Google, Amazon and Twitter, are members.

“This legislation is out of step with surveillance and privacy legislation in Europe and other countries that have strong national security concerns,” the DIGI statement said.

“Several critical issues remain unaddressed in this legislation, most significantly the prospect of introducing systemic weaknesses that could put Australians’ data security at risk,” it said.

If the Bill becomes law, Australia would be one of the first nations to impose broad access requirements on technology companies, although others, particularly so-called Five Eyes countries, are poised to follow.

The Five Eyes intelligence network, comprising the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, have each repeatedly warned that national security was at risk because the authorities were unable to monitor the communications of suspects.

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New York Today: We Like Big. Are Google and Amazon Too Big?

Living and working in New York have ingrained in most of us a certain laissez-faire attitude to things big and grand. The transit system with more stations than anywhere else in the world … yet not enough. The most populated school system … yet we don’t always have enough seats for every student. The most celebrated pizza in the country … and yet we continue to try new styles.

This week, New York appeared on the verge of landing a few more big things. Two of the tech industry’s giants signaled an interest in expanding here, potentially bringing a combined 45,000 employees to Manhattan, where Google already has an office, and Queens, where Amazon is considering locating a headquarters.

First, a caveat: No deals have been completed, so we don’t know how many people these companies will employ in New York. Google has 7,000 employees in Chelsea, and that number could double if it moves into 1.3 million square feet of office space in the West Village. Amazon could bring up to 25,000 employees to Long Island City.

Tom Angotti, professor emeritus of urban planning at Hunter College, said he could not recall a period when New York planned to absorb so many workers from a single employer, let alone two.

“Expansions tend to occur incrementally,” he said.

These tech giants will undoubtedly help reshape the city. New York can handle big. But is this too big? Probably not. New York will be fine. If that seems a little nonchalant, it’s a well-earned attitude.

“It’s a lot, but it’s not a lot for New York’s overall economy,” Nicole Gelinas, an analyst at the Manhattan Institute, said.

New York City gained 71,900 jobs from September 2016 to September 2017, according to the New York State Department of Labor. Many cities wouldn’t be able to absorb that many jobs. But New York can.

And remember, we’re talking about a possible maximum of 45,000 jobs. “We shouldn’t be dismissive of this number,” Gelinas said. “But it’s not going to save us or break us either way.”

Here’s what else is happening:

Weather

Leave the suede shoes at home and take an umbrella to work. Showers are possible after 4 p.m. Expect a high of 52.

🎶The sun will come out tomorrow. 🎶Eventually.

In the News

The Nassau County district attorney, Madeline Singas, announced that criminal charges would not be filed against former Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who was accused of assaulting and abusing four women. [New York Times]

Mayor Bill de Blasio is having a rejuvenation after Democrats took both houses in Albany, prompting him to press for agendas that were stymied in the past. [New York Times]

A sweeping retrospective shows the personal side of Andy Warhol — his hopes, fears, faith — at the Whitney Museum in a reassertion of his power for a new generation. [New York Times]

Attention passengers: Subway conductors will have new and informative lines to announce to riders that will appeal to your attention. [New York Times]

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey signed legislation to outlaw homemade and 3-D-printed guns after the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif. [NJ.com]

You may have seen the fliers around the city. Now, the people behind the #WhyIDidntReport campaign have opened up a gallery-style pop-up. [am New York]

The duck saga continues. It has returned. [New York Post]

Coming Up Today

An evening of jazz at the Lighthouse at Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. 7 p.m. [$42]

A screening of the film “Infinite Football,” about a Romanian soccer player’s quest to make the sport safer, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. 7:30 p.m. [$15]

See a performance of “The Education of Al Capone as if Told by Jimmy Durante,” at Coney Island U.S.A. in Coney Island, Brooklyn. 8 p.m. [$30]

An evening of Korean percussion music at Flushing Town Hall in Queens. 8 p.m. [$16]

Devils at Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. (MSG+). Rangers at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. (MSG).

Alternate-side parking remains in effect until Monday.

Weekend travel hassles: Check subway disruptions and a list of street closings.

Saturday

GingerBread Lane is back. Take a look at the homemade houses at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. [$16]

Ahead of Veterans Day, take a military history tour of the Battle of Brooklyn and visit the grave sites of fallen soldiers beginning at the Evergreens Cemetery in Bushwick, Brooklyn. 11 a.m. [Free] …

… Or take a tour focused on the gentrification and development of Downtown Brooklyn beginning at Jay Street and Myrtle Avenue. Noon. [$10]

Visit the exhibition “Transfer Queen,” a collection of poems and illustrations about men on the subway, at Wayfarers in Bushwick, Brooklyn. 1 to 5 p.m. [Free]

Rangers at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. (MSG). Islanders at Panthers, (MSG+).

Sunday

Bring your pumpkins and jack-o'-lanterns and smash them into compost at the Pumpkin Smash at Corlears Hook Park in Lower Manhattan. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. [Free]

Firecrackers, sweets, dancing and clay light painting are part of the Diwali celebration at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens. 1 to 4 p.m. [$8]

A discussion with the author of “To Honor Fallen Heroes: How a Small, German-American Village in New York City Experienced the Great War,” about the more than 650 men from College Point, Queens, who served in World War I, at the Queens Historical Society in Flushing. 2:30 p.m. [$5]

Get a look inside artists’ studios at Red Hook Open Studios. At various locations. 1 to 6 p.m. [Free]

Devils at Jets, 7 p.m. (MSG+).

For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.

Metropolitan Diary

My First Dead Body

Dear Diary:

It was 1979, and I was driving a Checker cab. I picked up a fare at La Guardia Airport. He was a heavyset man who appeared to be in his 50s.

He was flushed and smelled of alcohol. In an angry voice, he gave me detailed directions to his apartment in Manhattan.

Halfway there, bouncing along on the B.Q.E., I noticed that he was slumped over in the back seat. Ten minutes later, I pulled up to his building. He didn’t move.

“We’re here,” I said, loudly.

Nothing.

I got out of the cab, opened the door and tapped the man. No response. Then I shook him. Nothing.

I quickly drove to a hospital, parked and ran in. A few people were hanging around, and for a moment I wondered if there was a line. Then I yelled that I had a dead passenger in my cab.

Within seconds, he was on a gurney, and from there into the emergency room, where a doctor ripped his shirt open.

A police officer arrived, asked me some questions and walked away.

When he came back, he said the guy hadn’t made it, and that I could go. He handed me a $10 bill. He said the guy had it in his hand. The fare was $8.25. I thanked him.

An orderly asked if I was doing O.K. I said I was. Then he asked me out. I declined, but thanked him as well.

I drove the cab back to the garage in Long Island City, noting the death on my trip sheet.

The dispatcher, sitting in the office behind bulletproof glass, bored and tired, looked at my note.

He shrugged, said, “O.K.” and counted my cash. It was 4 a.m.

— Eric Smith

And Finally …

Hi everyone, it’s Alexandra and Jonathan.

Almost three years ago, when we took the helm of New York Today, we told you of our resolutions to walk every city street from east to west and to trek every avenue from top to bottom.

More than 700 columns later, thanks to you — with your ideas, loyalty, feedback and encouragement — we’ve seen New York City through the most special lens there is.

(Infinite lenses, actually.)

We’ve reported on happenings at City Hall, corruption in Albany and how the chaos in Washington very deeply affects our home. We’ve covered the transit turmoil, the cases in our courts and the breaking news that drives each day.

But we’ve realized that the stories that resonate just as much as policy and politics are those about the resilience and kindness of people in our community.

Through our annual New Yorkers of the Year columns, we’ve met hundreds of neighbors — teachers, violinists, actors, firefighters, survivors, refugees, immigrants and citizens — who have made a difference here, in ways big and small. We’ve learned from New Yorkers over the age of 100, some who are no longer with us, about what it means to be engaged in this city, and how to do it.

And we’ve also come to understand, in a place as intense as this one, the importance of stories that make you smile, laugh or feel something. (Like “hair forecasts” on rainy days. Or disputes over what makes a New York bagel. Or reviews of public restrooms. Or why New Yorkers do, indeed, wear so much black. Or why the best place to be for the holidays is alone in our great city.)

So thank you for reading us as you rolled out of bed, for letting us join you for your morning cup of joe, for using us as a distraction when you were stuck on the subway, and above all, for believing in the power and beauty of local journalism.

We hope you’ll continue to do the same with our talented new columnist, Azi Paybarah, who officially takes over this column on Monday.

We’ll miss you, but we’re not saying goodbye: You can follow us on Twitter at @jonathan_wolfe and @Ali_Lev, and on Instagram, @alexandra.levine.

All our best,

Alexandra and Jonathan

New York Today is a morning roundup that is published weekdays at 6 a.m. If you don’t get it in your inbox already, you can sign up to receive it by email here.

What would you like to see here to start your day? Post a comment, email us at [email protected], or reach us via Twitter using #NYToday.

You can find the latest New York Today at nytoday.com.

New York Today is published weekdays at 6 a.m. Sign up here to get it by email. You can also find it at nytoday.com.

We’re experimenting with the format of New York Today. What would you like to see more (or less) of? Post a comment or email us: [email protected].

Alexandra S. Levine, a Metro reporter, writes the New York Today column. She joined The Times in 2015. @Ali_Lev

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Google hears protesters, changes sexual harassment policies

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Thursday it would make changes to how it handles sexual harassment claims, a week after thousands of its employees around the world walked off their jobs to protest its response to such issues.

Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai announced a detailed “action plan”, which included making arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims.

“Going forward, we will provide more transparency on how we handle concerns,” Pichai said in a note here addressed to employees.

Pichai also said Google will provide more details around sexual harassment investigations and outcomes, as well as improving processes used to handle such concerns, including the ability for its employees to be accompanied by a support person.

Google said employees will now be required to undergo sexual harassment training annually, instead of every two years currently.

“We will update and expand our mandatory sexual harassment training,” Pichai said.

The company also said it would publicly release its harassment, discrimination and retaliation policies.

The protests at Google earlier this month followed a New York Times report that the company in 2014 gave a $90 million exit package to a senior vice president, Andy Rubin, after he was accused of sexual harassment.

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