With Google opening a new facility in Munich, Bristol-based freelance app developer Amanda Frasier asks the question, why Munich?
Google CEO Sundar Pichai officially announced the opening of the new Google Safety Engineering Centre (GSEC) in May (2019) in Munich.
In a blog post, Pichai explains that the new engineering centre is a privacy hub that focuses on keeping people safe online and improving data privacy and security measures.
The data centre will double the number of privacy engineers to more than 200 by the end of the year, effectively making Germany the main base for the company’s “cross-product privacy engineering efforts.”
This expansion comes shortly after their announcement regarding the $13 billion they’re investing in their US data centres this year, a huge chunk of which is going towards renewable energy.
Pichai says that Google’s data centres impact local communities positively through significant economic contributions — a benefit similarly anticipated from their new Munich centre.
Munich as a strategic location
Germany was a strategic choice by the tech giant, placing the work for data privacy in the centre of Europe.
Recent events have shown that Europe is the global leader for data privacy standards, mainly due to their staunch implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The New York Times details how Google was hit with a whopping $57 million fine earlier this year for violating data collection standards outlined in the GDPR.
The company has since issued statements promising improvements in the way they collect and handle user data — and their new privacy hub is undoubtedly a testament to this commitment.
Pichai highlighted their decision to open the GSEC in Munich saying, “It’s no accident that we’re building our privacy hub in the heart of Europe, and in a country that in many ways reflects how Europeans think about online safety, privacy and security.”
He added that Google’s Munich-based privacy engineers will now make it easier for users to make decisions about their data, as privacy controls become more apparent and thus easier to find.
New privacy features will be included in the company’s programs and applications, which include Google Maps, Assistant, and YouTube.
Balancing data collection and privacy
The importance of data has grown exponentially thanks to the digital revolution and the rise of Industry 4.0.
Businesses everywhere understand how crucial it is to utilise the power of data to improve service and increase profits across different industries.
In the supply chain and logistics industry, a feature by Verizon Connect details the different ways customer and driver data have transformed services.
From reducing waiting times to reliable automated invoicing, data use and collection saves both parties valuable time and effort.
Another industry where data collection has become the norm is in retail. Retail giants apply data collected from customers on a massive scale, letting it influence what products are displayed on their shelves or which ones are advertised the most online.
In fact, Tech Republic reveals that even wine and cheese makers use customer data to increase sales and ensure the production of high-quality products.
These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg, as data collection and its many uses and applications run deep in various ways in all sectors.
However, these advantages do not come without their shortcomings, as is evident in Google’s data privacy case.
Companies continue to use data in questionable ways or are not transparent enough with their collection processes, violating consumer rights to their own information.
In response, consumers can look to new laws like the GDPR that seek to address these problems as much as they can, despite businesses trying to work around regulations and legalities.
Indeed, the digital transformation, with all its benefits, calls for scrutiny and subsequent improvements now more than ever.
There is a growing need to protect data as it rises to become the most precious commodity in the world.
Tech giants like Google continually do their part by investing in facilities like their new data centres, with the promise of privacy and security for millions of users around the globe.