Google will collaborate with Indian Railways to provide Wi-Fi services at 500 stations by next year, CEO Sundar Pichai said on Sunday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the search engine giant’s main campus in California.
Pichai explained navigational, safety and other uses of Street View as well as Google Earth to Modi. The PM was also briefed about four critical projects and their value for the government’s ‘Digital India’ campaign. Another project that was shown to Modi was Project Iris, a smart lens that measure glucose levels.
“It is a visit to Google Guru,” Modi said as he reached its campus after he visited the Facebook headquarters.
“I hope your work helps the poor of India, and that even I get to learn something from it,” Modi told Google employees, urging them to help him meet the challenges being faced by India.
Google on Monday released a map of the first 100 railway stations that will get high-speed Wi-Fi in India.
According to Google’s official blog,’Even with just the first 100 stations online, the project will make Wi-Fi available for the more than 10 million people who pass through every day’.
The blog also claimed that, ‘this will be the largest public Wi-Fi project in India, and among the largest in the world, by number of potential users.’
Modi encouraged Google to develop apps that would benefit the common man as he participated in a “Hackathon” under which the company’s employees sat for 15 hours straight to devise such apps for use in India. Many youngsters in their 20s had come from India to participate in it.
In his brief statement at the venue, Modi stressed the need to “encourage Hackathon culture” in India so that the youth were inspired to find solutions to the country’s problems.
With social media becoming a part of today’s life, Modi said people spend a significant amount of time on it.
“This is just the beginning,” Modi said, adding that he expects there will be a qualitative change in the life of people in the years to come. Social media, he said, has become a strong and new power in a democracy.
Pichai said there was a hunger in India to have more information and get connected. The hunger for technology was reflected when Google launched Chrome browser some time back and India was the first country to adopt it in major way, he said.
“This is why next month we are going to take Android and make it possible for you to type in Android in 11 more languages, including the Prime Minister’s mother-tongue of Gujarati,” 43-year-old alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur said.
Talking about the Wi-Fi project at railway stations, he said: “”We are talking about high-definition... video streaming being possible on these connections... so this is very, very high speed internet.”
Before leaving Google, Modi had a group photo with its top officials.