Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort engages guests with Chrome signage

Editor’s note: Today we hear from Chet Patel, director of Information Technology at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Read how the resort uses Chrome digital signage to inform guests about events and staff about important news.

At the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort, we’re constantly looking for creative ways to put our guests first. That ethos drives our day-to-day work at the resort, where we’re using Chrome-based digital signage as a new way to keep our visitors up to date on activities and events and to communicate with staff.

Disney Swan and Dolphin digital signage

We’re a big resort, with more than 2,200 guest rooms and facilities spread out over 87 acres of lakefront property in the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fl, which makes communications challenging. To solve the problem we chose NoviSign’s Chrome-based digital signage solution because it’s cost-effective, scalable and secure. 

We can easily customize it as our needs change. Because Chrome signage is simple to deploy, it had a minimal impact on our existing IT infrastructure. NoviSign made deployment easy by helping with training and hosting the platform.

Chrome digital signage helps our staff and guests get useful information throughout the day. At the front desk, our employees show incoming guests videos of rooms they might want to choose. And we use the signs to tell guests about activities at the resort and news such as the weather so they can grab a poncho if there’s a thunderstorm heading our way.

In our employee-dedicated areas, the human resources department alerts staff to important news, such as when it’s time to enroll in our health plan, and the security department plays safety-related videos.

Chrome digital signage is so easy to manage that IT staff doesn’t need to get involved with programming. Each department handles content on their own from the central console, which means our team can focus on IT-related work, such as resolving key encoding problems or point-of-sale workstation issues. We’ve also saved considerably on the devices. It costs less than $200 in set-up, configuration and licensing fees for a Chromebit to power a digital sign, compared to up to $600 for a PC. Maintenance is minimal because we don’t have to apply security patches or worry about continual updates; Chrome devices are automatically updated.

So far we’ve deployed a dozen Chromebits and two Chromeboxes, and we’re planning to use more in the coming months. It’s keeping with the way we’ve always operated at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort, by using the newest technologies for the most time-honored purposes: entertaining people and making sure they have the best vacations possible.

Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort engages guests with Chrome signage

Editor’s note: Today we hear from Chet Patel, director of Information Technology at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Read how the resort uses Chrome digital signage to inform guests about events and staff about important news.

At the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort, we’re constantly looking for creative ways to put our guests first. That ethos drives our day-to-day work at the resort, where we’re using Chrome-based digital signage as a new way to keep our visitors up to date on activities and events and to communicate with staff.

Disney Swan and Dolphin digital signage

We’re a big resort, with more than 2,200 guest rooms and facilities spread out over 87 acres of lakefront property in the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fl, which makes communications challenging. To solve the problem we chose NoviSign’s Chrome-based digital signage solution because it’s cost-effective, scalable and secure. 

We can easily customize it as our needs change. Because Chrome signage is simple to deploy, it had a minimal impact on our existing IT infrastructure. NoviSign made deployment easy by helping with training and hosting the platform.

Chrome digital signage helps our staff and guests get useful information throughout the day. At the front desk, our employees show incoming guests videos of rooms they might want to choose. And we use the signs to tell guests about activities at the resort and news such as the weather so they can grab a poncho if there’s a thunderstorm heading our way.

In our employee-dedicated areas, the human resources department alerts staff to important news, such as when it’s time to enroll in our health plan, and the security department plays safety-related videos.

Chrome digital signage is so easy to manage that IT staff doesn’t need to get involved with programming. Each department handles content on their own from the central console, which means our team can focus on IT-related work, such as resolving key encoding problems or point-of-sale workstation issues. We’ve also saved considerably on the devices. It costs less than $200 in set-up, configuration and licensing fees for a Chromebit to power a digital sign, compared to up to $600 for a PC. Maintenance is minimal because we don’t have to apply security patches or worry about continual updates; Chrome devices are automatically updated.

So far we’ve deployed a dozen Chromebits and two Chromeboxes, and we’re planning to use more in the coming months. It’s keeping with the way we’ve always operated at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort, by using the newest technologies for the most time-honored purposes: entertaining people and making sure they have the best vacations possible.

Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort engages guests with Chrome signage

Editor’s note: Today we hear from Chet Patel, director of Information Technology at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Read how the resort uses Chrome digital signage to inform guests about events and staff about important news.

At the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort, we’re constantly looking for creative ways to put our guests first. That ethos drives our day-to-day work at the resort, where we’re using Chrome-based digital signage as a new way to keep our visitors up to date on activities and events and to communicate with staff.

Disney Swan and Dolphin digital signage

We’re a big resort, with more than 2,200 guest rooms and facilities spread out over 87 acres of lakefront property in the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fl, which makes communications challenging. To solve the problem we chose NoviSign’s Chrome-based digital signage solution because it’s cost-effective, scalable and secure. 

We can easily customize it as our needs change. Because Chrome signage is simple to deploy, it had a minimal impact on our existing IT infrastructure. NoviSign made deployment easy by helping with training and hosting the platform.

Chrome digital signage helps our staff and guests get useful information throughout the day. At the front desk, our employees show incoming guests videos of rooms they might want to choose. And we use the signs to tell guests about activities at the resort and news such as the weather so they can grab a poncho if there’s a thunderstorm heading our way.

In our employee-dedicated areas, the human resources department alerts staff to important news, such as when it’s time to enroll in our health plan, and the security department plays safety-related videos.

Chrome digital signage is so easy to manage that IT staff doesn’t need to get involved with programming. Each department handles content on their own from the central console, which means our team can focus on IT-related work, such as resolving key encoding problems or point-of-sale workstation issues. We’ve also saved considerably on the devices. It costs less than $200 in set-up, configuration and licensing fees for a Chromebit to power a digital sign, compared to up to $600 for a PC. Maintenance is minimal because we don’t have to apply security patches or worry about continual updates; Chrome devices are automatically updated.

So far we’ve deployed a dozen Chromebits and two Chromeboxes, and we’re planning to use more in the coming months. It’s keeping with the way we’ve always operated at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort, by using the newest technologies for the most time-honored purposes: entertaining people and making sure they have the best vacations possible.

How three districts help their teachers learn and grow throughout the school year

Throughout the year, teachers are hard at work preparing lesson plans and improving their skills. And after school, on the weekends and during breaks, they also invest time in professional development, to expand their knowledge base and learn from their peers. We asked three school districts to share their best practices and programs to help teachers sharpen their skills and advance their careers. These programs can serve as inspiration for training programs throughout the school year.

Training for teachers by teachers
Okeechobee County School District’s professional development program, Camp IT, is democratic: for teachers, by teachers. At the two-day summer training camp, teachers brainstorm topics, such as how to use Schoology or Google for Education to engage students, and the 12 most popular topics, chosen by a vote, are explored throughout the day. This loose structure, which is often referred to as “unconference,” allows for personalized learning and more informal and interactive peer discussions.

“The more teachers can take charge of their learning, the more voice they will have because they’ll be learning what they’re passionate about,” says Michelle Branham, coordinator of instructional technology.

EDU_campit.jpg
Teachers at Camp IT talk in small groups about how they use technology in the classroom.

Camp IT’s informal and intimate setting encourages more teachers to lead and contribute to sessions. With groups of five to 10 people, teachers feel more comfortable sharing their expertise and advice than they would with a large room of people.

“When the program began six years ago, vendors led a lot of the sessions at Camp IT, but we’ve shifted to a teacher-led program because teachers take more away from peers who are teaching them than a vendor who hasn’t used the tool in the classroom,” says Shawna May, director of information technology.

Providing a flexible, personalized program with incentives
Seminole County Public Schools holds a two-week summer institute for teachers and administrators called “The Power of You.” The sessions focus on core subjects, like math and English, as well as the curriculum. If the school is rolling out new learning software, they’ll also host a session around how to use the tool in the classroom.

Teachers choose specific topics depending on what’s most useful to them, such as “How to Teach Visual Learners” or “How to Provide Valuable Feedback via Google Docs,” and have the flexibility to attend one day or the full two weeks. They also get a stipend to attend, and qualify for an additional stipend if they submit a reflection paper at the end of their professional development. For example, a teacher can turn in a sample lesson plan after learning about a new learning management system and receive the reflection stipend. “We believe strongly in reflection on implementation and practice,” says Beth Pocius, the district’s manager of blended and digital curriculum implementation support.

Showcasing teachers’ classroom success with technology
Martin County School District in Florida hosts a four-day program similar to Okeechobee’s Camp IT called CampTEACH. The program empowers teachers to lead sessions and share their skills, and gives them the chance to network with others in the district that they might not see during the school week.

“CampTEACH focuses on effective use of technology in the classroom and serves as a forum to highlight great strategies and techniques teachers are using and gives them the opportunity to share those with their peers,” says Douglas Konopelko, Coordinator of Digital Learning, a Level 2 Google Certified Educator and Certified Google Apps Administrator.

EDU_camp-teach.png
Douglas Konopelko leads teachers through a brief tour of Martin County School District’s digital resources.

Camp IT and CampTEACH differ in that Martin County invites educational partners, such as Promethean, Safari Montage and HMH, to lead sessions. This allows for enormous variety—the 2015 summer program featured 83 sessions—but the most-attended sessions are still those taught by teachers, who can share on-the-ground experiences and relate to their peers’ daily struggles.

For example, this year, Douglas Konopelko, along with Jessica Falco, Digital Learning Specialist for Martin County and a Level 2 Google Certified Educator, taught sessions about how to use  Google Apps for Education in the classroom. “When I was a high school science teacher and assigned students to do a presentation, they uploaded their presentations onto a flash drive and passed the flash drive back and forth,” says Konopelko. “Teachers who attended the session realized student presentations would be easier and more collaborative because students can work in the same document at home or school.”

“Teachers’ faces lit up when they realized the power of these collaboration tools,” Falco adds. “Through these trainings, teachers are now able to use Google tools that allow for students to create authentic products, work in real-time collaboration with their peers in one document and experience what Google really has to offer for the classroom environment.”

These districts are just a few that are personalizing professional development for their teachers’ needs. We’re always looking for new sources of inspiration—share how your district provides teacher training opportunities by tagging @GoogleforEdu on Twitter.

How three districts help their teachers learn and grow throughout the school year

Throughout the year, teachers are hard at work preparing lesson plans and improving their skills. And after school, on the weekends and during breaks, they also invest time in professional development, to expand their knowledge base and learn from their peers. We asked three school districts to share their best practices and programs to help teachers sharpen their skills and advance their careers. These programs can serve as inspiration for training programs throughout the school year.

Training for teachers by teachers
Okeechobee County School District’s professional development program, Camp IT, is democratic: for teachers, by teachers. At the two-day summer training camp, teachers brainstorm topics, such as how to use Schoology or Google for Education to engage students, and the 12 most popular topics, chosen by a vote, are explored throughout the day. This loose structure, which is often referred to as “unconference,” allows for personalized learning and more informal and interactive peer discussions.

“The more teachers can take charge of their learning, the more voice they will have because they’ll be learning what they’re passionate about,” says Michelle Branham, coordinator of instructional technology.

EDU_campit.jpg
Teachers at Camp IT talk in small groups about how they use technology in the classroom.

Camp IT’s informal and intimate setting encourages more teachers to lead and contribute to sessions. With groups of five to 10 people, teachers feel more comfortable sharing their expertise and advice than they would with a large room of people.

“When the program began six years ago, vendors led a lot of the sessions at Camp IT, but we’ve shifted to a teacher-led program because teachers take more away from peers who are teaching them than a vendor who hasn’t used the tool in the classroom,” says Shawna May, director of information technology.

Providing a flexible, personalized program with incentives
Seminole County Public Schools holds a two-week summer institute for teachers and administrators called “The Power of You.” The sessions focus on core subjects, like math and English, as well as the curriculum. If the school is rolling out new learning software, they’ll also host a session around how to use the tool in the classroom.

Teachers choose specific topics depending on what’s most useful to them, such as “How to Teach Visual Learners” or “How to Provide Valuable Feedback via Google Docs,” and have the flexibility to attend one day or the full two weeks. They also get a stipend to attend, and qualify for an additional stipend if they submit a reflection paper at the end of their professional development. For example, a teacher can turn in a sample lesson plan after learning about a new learning management system and receive the reflection stipend. “We believe strongly in reflection on implementation and practice,” says Beth Pocius, the district’s manager of blended and digital curriculum implementation support.

Showcasing teachers’ classroom success with technology
Martin County School District in Florida hosts a four-day program similar to Okeechobee’s Camp IT called CampTEACH. The program empowers teachers to lead sessions and share their skills, and gives them the chance to network with others in the district that they might not see during the school week.

“CampTEACH focuses on effective use of technology in the classroom and serves as a forum to highlight great strategies and techniques teachers are using and gives them the opportunity to share those with their peers,” says Douglas Konopelko, Coordinator of Digital Learning, a Level 2 Google Certified Educator and Certified Google Apps Administrator.

EDU_camp-teach.png
Douglas Konopelko leads teachers through a brief tour of Martin County School District’s digital resources.

Camp IT and CampTEACH differ in that Martin County invites educational partners, such as Promethean, Safari Montage and HMH, to lead sessions. This allows for enormous variety—the 2015 summer program featured 83 sessions—but the most-attended sessions are still those taught by teachers, who can share on-the-ground experiences and relate to their peers’ daily struggles.

For example, this year, Douglas Konopelko, along with Jessica Falco, Digital Learning Specialist for Martin County and a Level 2 Google Certified Educator, taught sessions about how to use  Google Apps for Education in the classroom. “When I was a high school science teacher and assigned students to do a presentation, they uploaded their presentations onto a flash drive and passed the flash drive back and forth,” says Konopelko. “Teachers who attended the session realized student presentations would be easier and more collaborative because students can work in the same document at home or school.”

“Teachers’ faces lit up when they realized the power of these collaboration tools,” Falco adds. “Through these trainings, teachers are now able to use Google tools that allow for students to create authentic products, work in real-time collaboration with their peers in one document and experience what Google really has to offer for the classroom environment.”

These districts are just a few that are personalizing professional development for their teachers’ needs. We’re always looking for new sources of inspiration—share how your district provides teacher training opportunities by tagging @GoogleforEdu on Twitter.

Powering a Cleaner Energy Future in Europe

On February 2nd, we hosted an event at our Brussels office to discuss how businesses like Google are turning to renewable energy and consider how EU energy policies can meet the changing needs of consumers and the marketplace. With leaders from both the private sector and policy community, including keynote speaker, European Commission Vice President for the Energy, Maroš Šefčovič and our panelist, MEP Kathleen Van Brempt, we hosted the event with RE100, a non-profit initiative of influential businesses committed to 100% renewable energy.

Last December, we were proud to announce that Google is on track to reach 100% renewable energy for our  global operations, including both our data centers and offices in 2017. We have committed to renewable energy both to ensure we run our company as sustainably as possible and because it makes business sense as renewables become increasingly cost competitive. To date we’ve signed contracts for 2.6 gigawatts of renewable projects, making- us the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power.

Re100 Event February 2017 2

At out event we spoke alongside other companies committed to renewable energy, such as Nestle, IKEA, and Swiss Re, amongst others, who are also demonstrating through their own efforts that renewables make good business sense.  The business case for renewable energy was further highlighted by European Commission Vice President for Energy, Maroš Šefčovič who emphasized that the production costs for renewables have drastically reduced in the last 10 years.

Of course, there are still challenges facing the renewable energy market, many of which are addressed in comprehensive measures on renewables and energy market design recently proposed by the European Commission. Two key topics of discussion at the event were the need for sound policies to help remove barriers to deployment of renewables and more cross-border cooperation in order to implement Europe-wide initiatives.

At Google, we are excited to see so much progress and are committed to working together with policy maker and others to drive a cleaner energy future in Europe.

Commissioner Re100
European Commission Vice President for Energy, Maroš Šefčovič powering his breakfast smoothie with renewable energy. :-)

How District 99 supports student and teachers through 1:1 learning

Editor’s note: Schools are working with Google for Education Premier Partners to throw open their doors for the ExploreEDU event series, which invites neighboring educators to learn first-hand from their own experiences using Google tools. To see if there’s an event near you, visit the ExploreEDU site. Today’s guest authors are Jon Orech and Lisa Lichtman, Instructional Technology Coordinators from Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove, IL. They hosted an ExploreEDU event on Jan. 26–27 with CDW.

At District 99, we want to help students be better learners. In 2014, we decided to launch a 1:1 pilot with Chromebooks, involving more than 40 teachers and 1,500 students. Students that participated in the pilot reported that these tools increased collaboration and encouraged self-directed learning, and we launched the program district-wide last fall. We’ve learned a lot of lessons about how to introduce and get the most out of technology—here are a few tips.

1. Take the time to help everyone understand why the new technology was chosen

To get support for new technology and ensure its success, it’s important for everyone to understand the reasons behind the change. Before we introduced Chromebooks and G Suite for Education, we spent a lot of time talking to students, parents and faculty members, and organized professional development training for teachers customized based on their technology comfort levels. We made sure everyone understood how Google solutions aligned with our district’s values, one of which is collaboration. We demonstrated how G Suite could help students be more collaborative by allowing them to work with their classmates on the same document at the same time no matter where they were, while also benefiting from immediate feedback through live comments.

2. Provide teachers with a safe and trusted place for sharing

We wanted to make sure our teachers had the resources they needed to be successful in a 1:1 learning environment, so we created a private Google+ community for our 400 teachers to share knowledge across campuses, subject areas and grade levels; giving them access to a richer peer network. For example, in response to a thread about differentiating instruction based on unique student needs, a special ed teacher shared how she was able to push out different assignments to a subset of students using a recently launched feature in Google Classroom. Her post piqued the interest of other educators in a way other announcements couldn’t, since it was coming from a fellow colleague who had a positive first-hand experience with the feature.

3. Empower students to be creators and interact with their communities

A 1:1 Chromebook model gives every student the tools to be creative anytime, anywhere. In one health class, students made documentaries about diseases that affect their families with WeVideo on their Chromebooks. In the past, activities like this required reserving time for research on a desktop in the library, but now, students have access to these creative tools whenever they want.

DownersGrove_Detail.jpg
Students using their Chromebooks in class.

Chromebooks also make it easy for students to share their projects with the community. Our digital photography teacher asked her students to share their photos in an online Google community, where both their peers and invited professional photographers provided helpful critique on their photos. Through projects like this, students at District 99 are learning in new ways.

Our experience has taught us how technology and a 1:1 environment can support students and teachers to be better learners and educators. We hope sharing these tips helps others looking for ways to improve learning and teaching in their districts.

How District 99 supports students and teachers through 1:1 learning

Editor’s note: Schools are working with Google for Education Premier Partners to throw open their doors for the ExploreEDU event series, which invites neighboring educators to learn first-hand from their own experiences using Google tools. To see if there’s an event near you, visit the ExploreEDU site. Today’s guest authors are Jon Orech and Lisa Lichtman, Instructional Technology Coordinators from Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove, IL. They hosted an ExploreEDU event on Jan. 26–27 with CDW.

At District 99, we want to help students be better learners. In 2014, we decided to launch a 1:1 pilot with Chromebooks, involving more than 40 teachers and 1,500 students. Students that participated in the pilot reported that these tools increased collaboration and encouraged self-directed learning, and we launched the program district-wide last fall. We’ve learned a lot of lessons about how to introduce and get the most out of technology—here are a few tips.

1. Take the time to help everyone understand why the new technology was chosen

To get support for new technology and ensure its success, it’s important for everyone to understand the reasons behind the change. Before we introduced Chromebooks and G Suite for Education, we spent a lot of time talking to students, parents and faculty members, and organized professional development training for teachers customized based on their technology comfort levels. We made sure everyone understood how Google solutions aligned with our district’s values, one of which is collaboration. We demonstrated how G Suite could help students be more collaborative by allowing them to work with their classmates on the same document at the same time no matter where they were, while also benefiting from immediate feedback through live comments.

2. Provide teachers with a safe and trusted place for sharing

We wanted to make sure our teachers had the resources they needed to be successful in a 1:1 learning environment, so we created a private Google+ community for our 400 teachers to share knowledge across campuses, subject areas and grade levels; giving them access to a richer peer network. For example, in response to a thread about differentiating instruction based on unique student needs, a special ed teacher shared how she was able to push out different assignments to a subset of students using a recently launched feature in Google Classroom. Her post piqued the interest of other educators in a way other announcements couldn’t, since it was coming from a fellow colleague who had a positive first-hand experience with the feature.

3. Empower students to be creators and interact with their communities

A 1:1 Chromebook model gives every student the tools to be creative anytime, anywhere. In one health class, students made documentaries about diseases that affect their families with WeVideo on their Chromebooks. In the past, activities like this required reserving time for research on a desktop in the library, but now, students have access to these creative tools whenever they want.

DownersGrove_Detail.jpg
Students using their Chromebooks in class.

Chromebooks also make it easy for students to share their projects with the community. Our digital photography teacher asked her students to share their photos in an online Google community, where both their peers and invited professional photographers provided helpful critique on their photos. Through projects like this, students at District 99 are learning in new ways.

Our experience has taught us how technology and a 1:1 environment can support students and teachers to be better learners and educators. We hope sharing these tips helps others looking for ways to improve learning and teaching in their districts.

How District 99 supports students and teachers through 1:1 learning

Editor’s note: Schools are working with Google for Education Premier Partners to throw open their doors for the ExploreEDU event series, which invites neighboring educators to learn first-hand from their own experiences using Google tools. To see if there’s an event near you, visit the ExploreEDU site. Today’s guest authors are Jon Orech and Lisa Lichtman, Instructional Technology Coordinators from Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove, IL. They hosted an ExploreEDU event on Jan. 26–27 with CDW.

At District 99, we want to help students be better learners. In 2014, we decided to launch a 1:1 pilot with Chromebooks, involving more than 40 teachers and 1,500 students. Students that participated in the pilot reported that these tools increased collaboration and encouraged self-directed learning, and we launched the program district-wide last fall. We’ve learned a lot of lessons about how to introduce and get the most out of technology—here are a few tips.

1. Take the time to help everyone understand why the new technology was chosen

To get support for new technology and ensure its success, it’s important for everyone to understand the reasons behind the change. Before we introduced Chromebooks and G Suite for Education, we spent a lot of time talking to students, parents and faculty members, and organized professional development training for teachers customized based on their technology comfort levels. We made sure everyone understood how Google solutions aligned with our district’s values, one of which is collaboration. We demonstrated how G Suite could help students be more collaborative by allowing them to work with their classmates on the same document at the same time no matter where they were, while also benefiting from immediate feedback through live comments.

2. Provide teachers with a safe and trusted place for sharing

We wanted to make sure our teachers had the resources they needed to be successful in a 1:1 learning environment, so we created a private Google+ community for our 400 teachers to share knowledge across campuses, subject areas and grade levels; giving them access to a richer peer network. For example, in response to a thread about differentiating instruction based on unique student needs, a special ed teacher shared how she was able to push out different assignments to a subset of students using a recently launched feature in Google Classroom. Her post piqued the interest of other educators in a way other announcements couldn’t, since it was coming from a fellow colleague who had a positive first-hand experience with the feature.

3. Empower students to be creators and interact with their communities

A 1:1 Chromebook model gives every student the tools to be creative anytime, anywhere. In one health class, students made documentaries about diseases that affect their families with WeVideo on their Chromebooks. In the past, activities like this required reserving time for research on a desktop in the library, but now, students have access to these creative tools whenever they want.

DownersGrove_Detail.jpg
Students using their Chromebooks in class.

Chromebooks also make it easy for students to share their projects with the community. Our digital photography teacher asked her students to share their photos in an online Google community, where both their peers and invited professional photographers provided helpful critique on their photos. Through projects like this, students at District 99 are learning in new ways.

Our experience has taught us how technology and a 1:1 environment can support students and teachers to be better learners and educators. We hope sharing these tips helps others looking for ways to improve learning and teaching in their districts.

Silence speaks louder than words when finding malware

In Android Security, we’re constantly working to better understand how to make Android devices operate more smoothly and securely. One security solution included on all devices with Google Play is Verify apps. Verify apps checks if there are Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) on your device. If a PHA is found, Verify apps warns the user and enables them to uninstall the app.

But, sometimes devices stop checking up with Verify apps. This may happen for a non-security related reason, like buying a new phone, or, it could mean something more concerning is going on. When a device stops checking up with Verify apps, it is considered Dead or Insecure (DOI). An app with a high enough percentage of DOI devices downloading it, is considered a DOI app. We use the DOI metric, along with the other security systems to help determine if an app is a PHA to protect Android users. Additionally, when we discover vulnerabilities, we patch Android devices with our security update system.

This blog post explores the Android Security team’s research to identify the security-related reasons that devices stop working and prevent it from happening in the future.

Flagging DOI Apps

To understand this problem more deeply, the Android Security team correlates app install attempts and DOI devices to find apps that harm the device in order to protect our users.

With these factors in mind, we then focus on ‘retention’. A device is considered retained if it continues to perform periodic Verify apps security check ups after an app download. If it doesn’t, it’s considered potentially dead or insecure (DOI). An app’s retention rate is the percentage of all retained devices that downloaded the app in one day. Because retention is a strong indicator of device health, we work to maximize the ecosystem’s retention rate.

Therefore, we use an app DOI scorer, which assumes that all apps should have a similar device retention rate. If an app’s retention rate is a couple of standard deviations lower than average, the DOI scorer flags it. A common way to calculate the number of standard deviations from the average is called a Z-score. The equation for the Z-score is below.

Z-score for Dead or Insecure devices
  • N = Number of devices that downloaded the app.
  • x = Number of retained devices that downloaded the app.
  • p = Probability of a device downloading any app will be retained.

In this context, we call the Z-score of an app’s retention rate a DOI score. The DOI score indicates an app has a statistically significant lower retention rate if the Z-score is much less than -3.7. This means that if the null hypothesis is true, there is much less than a 0.01% chance the magnitude of the Z-score being as high. In this case, the null hypothesis means the app accidently correlated with lower retention rate independent of what the app does.

This allows for percolation of extreme apps (with low retention rate and high number of downloads) to the top of the DOI list. From there, we combine the DOI score with other information to determine whether to classify the app as a PHA. We then use Verify apps to remove existing installs of the app and prevent future installs of the app.

Android security checkups for DOI devices
Difference between a regular and DOI app download on the same device

Results in the wild

Among others, the DOI score flagged many apps in three well known malware families— Hummingbad, Ghost Push, and Gooligan. Although they behave differently, the DOI scorer flagged over 25,000 apps in these three families of malware because they can degrade the Android experience to such an extent that a non-negligible amount of users factory reset or abandon their devices. This approach provides us with another perspective to discover PHAs and block them before they gain popularity. Without the DOI scorer, many of these apps would have escaped the extra scrutiny of a manual review.

The DOI scorer and all of Android’s anti-malware work is one of multiple layers protecting users and developers on Android. For an overview of Android’s security and transparency efforts, check out our page.