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Resources from Google to Help You Stay Informed and Connected

Resources from Google to Help You Stay Informed and Connected

We know how quickly information is changing when it comes to COVID-19 and how important it is to be able to easily find useful, trusted, organized and authoritative information. This week, working with relevant agencies, Google launched a nationwide website in the United States — available at — and expanded the Google search experience for COVID-19 information.

The website features links to Texas-based resources, safety and prevention tips, search trends related to COVID-19, and further resources for individuals, educators and businesses.

New Search Experience

To keep people as informed as possible, we have updated the COVID-19 Search capability. The new format will make it easier to find information as it becomes available.

The new experience links to national and local authorities and Twitter pages of local civic and health organizations. A new feature will highlight some of the most common questions about the pandemic, with relevant information sourced from the WHO and the CDC. Additionally, people who look for urgent care, hospitals and other medical services on Google Search or Maps will receive an alert reminding them of the CDC’s recommendation that symptomatic individuals call ahead to avoid overwhelming the health systems and increasing exposure. The experience will continue to expand over time and be introduced in more languages.

Resources for Small Businesses

We are also providing resources for small businesses during this difficult time. For businesses with a Business Profile on Google, you can change your hours of operation and provide further updates to your customers. To communicate with your employees, you can store contact information online to make it more accessible from any device. If you need to pause or modify your advertising campaign, you can find support here.

Other Helpful Resources

Google has also rolled out additional resources to keep the public informed, students learning, and people working. Please feel free to share relevant information with those who may need it:
– SOS Alerts with state resources: Google continues to develop new resources to connect users to helpful information and resources. This includes an expansion of our COVID-19 SOS Alerts, which now include information from state health authorities.
– “Do the Five” Campaign: In the US, Google launched a “Do the Five” campaign on the homepage to remind people to follow five simple practices to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
– Helping educators and students stay connected: Google launched Teach from Home, a central hub of information, tips, training and tools from across Google for Education to help teachers keep teaching, even when they aren’t in the classroom. Google’s Distance Learning Hub provides free resources and strategies for engaging students when schools are closed, including a collection of training materials.
– Travel advisories and information: When searching for travel information in Google Search, you can now find up-to-date information on travel advisories from countries around the world as well as flight cancellation information and new airline policies.

We hope these tools and resources are helpful for you to find the information you need as we work together to bring our communities through this crisis.

Stay Home Together,

How a Houston-Based Energy Consultant Keeps Costs Low with Custom Enterprise Software

As an energy consultant who assists companies in the procurement of electricity and natural gas, as well as the monitoring of their consumption and the management of overall costs, Annette Van Brunt, founder of Van Brunt & Associates, relies on custom enterprise software to manage data from multiple sources. This includes her customers, the suppliers who’ve bid to serve her customers, and her company’s channel partners.

Ms. Van Brunt had initially worked with a self-employed developer who left the project to pursue full-time employment, as well as an agency that hadn’t been able to meet her needs. “I’d say their benefit was that they helped me learn how to write user stories to spend less time testing because I’d already fully designed new features,” she explains.

“But the developer I was working with was very stressed,” she continues. “He didn’t know the technology, so I was teaching him the software that we had. He didn’t really like having to do that, and it showed. They were great at teaching me how to be a better requirements developer, but they weren’t so good at implementation.”

Transitioning to Simpat

After being connected with Simpat, Ms. Van Brunt was matched with a developer who would be able to support both her existing software and her preferred workflows. “Once they understood what my needs were and what technology stack I was using, they assigned me to Raul.”

Initially, Ms. Van Brunt had contracted 3-4 hours of work per day, but was quickly able to ramp up to 6-7 hours per day, thanks to a change in availability and Raul’s technical skill.

She explains, “First of all, he is very much superior from a technology standpoint. There’s so much out there, from Bootstrap to Python, and there are all these little add-ons developers use. Either Raul knew it all, or he’s very good at adapting.”

Cost Savings Through Strong Partnerships & Efficient Operations

In Ms. Van Brunt’s case, having the right developer has led to a lot of cost savings. “I don’t have to test and retest,” she shares. “I don’t have to handhold. Raul understands the problem at hand pretty quickly and attacks it. With the other developer, I had to talk to him every day to keep him on task and to make sure he understood. Otherwise, he’d go off for several days, and it was in the wrong direction. I don’t have that issue with Raul.”

“But secondly, you just get more efficient at getting it done,” she continues. “A task that other developers might take three, or four, or five days to do, he gets done in a day because he understands it. I will say, I’m better at writing up my requirements, so there’s a little bit of that. But when something isn’t performing as intended or something we didn’t think of comes up, he’s really great at jumping right in and fixing it. He doesn’t complain. He doesn’t get frustrated, and that aspect of it is invaluable.”

Creating and Defending a Competitive Advantage

Though Ms. Van Brunt’s software is up and running, she continues to work with Simpat to add new features and functionalities that create a compelling competitive advantage for her consultancy. She notes, “There were new features that I didn’t feel like my previous developers could develop which Raul has rolled out that I think have helped me win customers.”

Reflecting on her engagement with Simpat, Ms. Van Brunt appreciates the relationships she’s been able to build. “It’s definitely a partnership,” she describes. “I couldn’t provide all these features to my customers unless Raul knew how to develop them, but there wouldn’t be any features unless I designed them. But there are things that I can now try that aren’t out of the realm of possibility because he’s capable of doing them.

The result of these and other innovations is that Ms. Van Brunt has been able to run a lean, efficient operation that keeps her overhead low and her margins high. “My competitors who have the size of business that I have, have 10 times the number of people. It’s just me, and it’s because my portal keeps me from having to hire people. That’s the biggest benefit of all.”

The bottom line? According to Ms. Van Brunt, “I would recommend Simpat to anybody.”

If you’re struggling with underperforming vendors who are standing in the way of your custom enterprise software development initiatives, reach out to Simpat for a free consultation. We’d love to show you the difference having a true partner can make on your business’s bottom line.

Why Designers Love Austin: Twitter Survey Reveals Top Reasons to Design in ATX

We collected over 100 responses to three survey questions on Twitter to uncover exactly what makes Austin so attractive to the many designers who choose this city for daily life, work and creative inspiration.

Austin has tons to offer designers eager to improve their craft and develop professionally. But what really draws top design talent to this city and keeps them here? Opportunity? Networking? Events that serve as hubs for new ideas and learning? Creative brands and trendy hangouts on every corner?

While all of those aspects of the city make Austin a design haven, our survey revealed that a positive social network of designers, combined with an abundance of inspiration are the top draws to live and work as a designer in Austin.

Several other aspects of the city appear to have a draw as well. Here’s what the community had to say on Twitter:

Most Loved Design-Related Events in Austin

We asked designers on Twitter: What is your favorite design-related event in Austin? Results revealed Austin Design Week as a top choice, with the Fresh2Design Meetups and the East and West Austin Studio Tours tying for second place.

About Austin Design Week
Check out hundreds of locally led workshops, studio tours, presentations and more during Austin Design Week each year in November. Experts from all over Austin offer educational and innovative sessions on everything from visual, interactive, mobile and web design, to product, industrial, civic, fashion and architectural design.

About fresh2design Meetups
A growing group, currently over 2,500 strong, fresh2design is the place to be for community-led storytelling events, happy hours and workshops. The group offers multiple events a month with the freshest ideas in the city.

About Austin Studio Tours
The East and West Austin Studio Tours offer the public a chance to visit neighborhood designers and artists on site in their studios for free. Over a span of two weeks, visitors can engage in self-guided tours, taking in the distinct design flavor of each neighborhood.

Check out the East Austin Studio Tour and the West Austin Studio Tour.

Favorite Austin Design Events: Honorable Mentions
These local events were also called out among the favorites:

Refresh Austin
AIGA Afterhours
Service Design, ATX
Austin UXPA

Favorite Part about the Austin Design Scene

Designers weighed in with their thoughts on what makes the Austin design scene so attractive. The top reason was a tie: 31% of respondents said their favorite aspect is the positive and inclusive social environment, while 31% of other voters said the hip, cool vibes make Austin a design destination.

>> Confused by all the different types of designers? Read 8 Designer Job Titles & Why They Shouldn’t Matter Much in Your Search for Talent.

Austin’s Greatest Impact on Designers

Austin offers more than just a fun, creative atmosphere and excellent networking, it’s also an environment that actually challenges and shapes the creatives who work here.

We asked designers, “What about Austin has had the greatest impact on you as a designer?” 61% responded that the inspiring environment has had the most significant effect on them. The intense competition for the best design jobs and the high standards set by the design industry in Austin was voted the second-most impactful characteristic of the city.

Thank You Austin!

Fresh and upbeat design-related events, a positive and inclusive community, ample opportunities to learn from the best, constant creativity that inspires and challenges designers to grow and innovate, and a plentiful array of high-paying design jobs make Austin a much-loved city by some of the nations best designers.

Perhaps the amount of amazing design talent in Austin has a culminating effect. As more designers move to Austin, the creativity, inspiration and innovation builds on itself, leading to even more fresh ideas and refined skills. Each time the bar is raised, it challenges the competition to outperform itself again and again.

The result is a vibrant, never-dull city of free thinkers and beautiful sidewalks. Welcome to Austin.

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