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Google, Build Trump’s App

Google and Alphabet are American companies. They can’t simply stand by and watch everyone else do their patriotic duty—and it is a patriotic duty to “flatten the curve” of Coronavirus—while they take some kind of political liberal high road. Google does have 1700 engineers who volunteered to help combat COVID-19. Perhaps the company can greenlight this project, because if Verily has it prototyped, Google can scale it.

I thought I’d try my hand at a vlog post, since I haven’t really done one. It’s about President Trump’s claim that Google is building a national website to help individuals locate a testing location and determine if they should take the test. The media pounced on this claim, as Google has made no such promise. But they should.

President Trump had the CEOs of Walmart, Walgreens, Target, CVS, Labcorp, Quest Diagnostics, and others in the White House rose garden yesterday to say they are “all in” to help the nation battle Coronavirus. The declaration of a national emergency was needed and, frankly, long past due.

The president did his part in creating what I can only describe as mass panic—one step from civil chaos—as people prep for what many believe will be a long national nightmare.

One company that was mentioned, but noticeably absent, was Google. I don’t know if the president tried to ring up Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google parent Alphabet, Inc. or not, but I do know that neither Pinchai nor anyone else from the Internet giant was with Trump.

Trump said Google was, and I quote, “going to develop a website — it’s going to be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past — to determine if a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location” and it would be done very quickly. He said that—again quoting the president—“Google has 1,700 engineers working on this right now. They have made tremendous progress.”

It would have been better had Pinchai delivered that news, but he didn’t because he wasn’t there. He also didn’t because Google is not developing any such website. Instead, a small subsidiary of Alphabet, called Verily, is developing a small-scale version of that website for the San Francisco Bay area.

Carolyn Wang, who does communications for Verily, told The Verge, that what she called a “triage website” was only going to serve healthcare workers, not the general public. In other words, none of what the president said, and Debbie Birx, who coordinates the White House coronavirus response, described is actually happening.

But of course, it should happen.

Google and Alphabet are American companies. They can’t simply stand by and watch everyone else do their patriotic duty—and it is a patriotic duty to “flatten the curve” of Coronavirus—while they take some kind of political liberal high road. Google does have 1700 engineers who volunteered to help combat COVID-19. Perhaps the company can greenlight this project, because if Verily has it prototyped, Google can scale it.

No company in the world is better at deploying scaled applications quickly than Google. Maybe Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft approach Google’s capabilities in certain areas, at certain times, but Google is all about scale, all the time.

In fact, I could not think of a better company to write and deploy a national web application for Coronavirus testing.

Maybe Trump and Birx made their little play, complete with charts, to egg Google on to do the work. But the response in the media has been to expose Trump’s claim as false instead of doing what’s necessary to make it true.

Google, and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pinchai, America needs to you to build an app. Think of it as if this was World War II and America needed General Motors to build tanks, or for Kaiser to build warships. This will be a short little war, but intense, and Google needs to do its part, like Walmart, CVS and the others. 

This is how America wins, not by the government, but by our people, and our companies that do what nobody else on earth can do.

Google: build the app and make Trump’s claims true.

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