People search the web billions of times a day to find useful information. Sometimes they find truly extraordinary things. Aum, a 24 year-old man from Thailand ran away from home when he was seven. He spent the next 16 years looking for his family, a search made more difficult by his inability to read or write. When voice search in Thai became possible, he realized that he could search the internet by speaking instead of typing. He was finally reunited with his family last year and now helps other lost Thai children find their families.
In the seven years since Google opened its office in Bangkok, many other Thais have started using the internet to empower themselves. We’re humbled to have supported some of these online journeys, whether by enabling Thai small businesses to go global, helping promising Thai startups to scale or making it easier for people to type in Thai. Today at our “Google for Thailand” event, we announced more initiatives to enable even more Thai people and businesses to make the most out of the internet.
Millions of Thais still lack a reliable and affordable internet connection. To improve access to the web, we are bringing Google Station, our high-speed public Wi-Fi program, to Thailand in partnership with CAT Telecom. Thais can get online with Google Station in 10 venues across Bangkok and two provinces—Phichit and Loei. We’ll expand Google Station to other parts of Thailand in the coming months so that more Thais are able to get online for free with a high-speed, reliable connection.
Academy Bangkok - A Google Space
Thailand’s digital economy is booming and needs talent. Under the Google Ignite program, we’ve been helping Thai companies find the right talent, actively connecting them with bright Thai graduates. We send graduates that are hired on an intensive Google-run two month digital skills training program to prepare them for their careers. We are dramatically scaling up this initiative and our long-term commitment to Thailand by building the Academy Bangkok in True Digital Park. Once our academy is open, we can accommodate cohorts of up to 200 students at a time. We also plan to run other programs in the facility in areas including developer skills and cloud computing.
To support Thailand’s vibrant YouTube community and nurture its future stars, we’re re-launching the YouTube Pop-Up Space in Bangkok this November. With access to state-of-the-art production facilities, creators will have a space to learn, connect and make more high quality videos. Global training programs like YouTube NextUp and Creators for Change will also be offered. And we’re not forgetting the people viewing this great content. In partnership with AIS, we are launching unlimited YouTube Go data packs in Thailand.
Thai creators will have access to the best production facilities at the YouTube Pop-Up Space.
Google Maps Motorbike Mode
There are 20 million motorbike owners in Thailand and anyone who rides a motorbike knows that they move at different speeds to the rest of the traffic. But until today, Google Maps gave bikers in Thailand the same directions as car drivers. Our new motorbike mode in Google Maps is designed to offer directions tailored to the needs of motorbikes and scooters, including shortcuts and narrow roads that only motorbikes can travel on as well as more accurate travel times.
Motorbike mode plans routes in Google Maps factoring in the shortcuts that can be taken by motorbikes.
Google My Business
Although more Thais are going online, only about 13 percent of Thai small and medium sized businesses have websites, missing out on a rapidly growing local market. We are partnering Siam Commercial Bank to make it easier than ever for Thai businesses to get on Google My Business. Siam Commercial Bank personnel will visit business owners at their stores to help them get their free business listings on Google.
Today’s announcements are just the latest in a long-term commitment to make sure everyone can benefit from the internet in Thailand, whether they’re a first-time internet user or a small business owner. We hope that these initiatives help make life easier, more convenient and more meaningful for Thais.