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Building bridges (and ships!): Google Public Sector helps the U.S. Navy better collaborate

December 16, 2022
Lynn Martin

Vice President, Google Public Sector

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Editorial note: This post originally appeared on the Google Cloud blog.

With a global, always-on workforce, the U.S. Navy requires secure collaboration between teams across countries and time zones. This is especially relevant for the 50,000 U.S. Navy sailors deployed aboard approximately 100 ships at any given time, who need to connect with personnel at regional shipyards for everything from routine maintenance, to more serious ship repairs. 

Google Public Sector directly assists Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the largest of the U.S. Navy’s five "systems commands," by providing support to the U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) in Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan. NAVSEA is using Google Workspace, which harnesses Google’s threat protection and zero trust capabilities, to enable effective, secure, and compliant collaboration between the SRF-JRMC and Navy stakeholders around the world.  

The workforce in the SRF-JRMC facility had two unique challenges. The first was around ineffective collaboration and communication channels. Before deploying Google Workspace, a Navy officer in Japan would need to be on-base to communicate over a secure connection, and calls were typically late at night given the time difference. This challenge was even further magnified when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, further restricting staff mobility. 

The second challenge was a language barrier. With more than 3,000 Japanese Master Labor Contract (MLC) employees providing critical support to SRF-JRMC’s shipyard, Navy leadership needed an easier way to communicate with their Japanese-speaking counterparts. Breaking down this barrier would ensure work could be completed faster and more effectively, facilitating a more collaborative environment.

Enabling secure collaboration

The Navy partnered with Google Public Sector to enable Google Workspace for SRF-JRMC. Today, Google Workspace assists the Navy's shipyards by enabling Google Voice for secure voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calling options, so personnel can join calls and sessions on-site or at-home to communicate securely and reliably across continents. In addition, early access to solutions like English to Japanese translated captions in Google Meet help break down the language barrier by providing instant translation during meetings. The platform also saves the U.S. Navy thousands of dollars a month in phone bills by providing country-specific dial-in numbers for interviews. 

Moreover, Google Workspace tools like Google Drive and Docs also help to simplify human resource workflows by streamlining the hiring for onboarding local Japanese employees for the shipyard. Having a shared Google Drive eliminates the need to send multiple files back and forth among the NAVSEA team, allowing them to minimize on-premises storage space. In addition, Google Docs enables Navy employees to communicate and collaborate with each other and with potential candidates securely, and across any device.  

“As the largest overseas ship repair facility of the U.S. Navy, operational readiness and continuity of operations is our top priority,” said Peter Guo, chief information officer at SRF-JRMC. “Cloud collaboration capabilities provide us seamless and secure connectivity across continents and break down language barriers with our colleagues across the globe. We’ve improved our ability to operate anytime, and anywhere and have increased our ability to securely communicate and coordinate especially during network outages and natural disasters.”

Providing pandemic assistance

Google for Government’s Workspace solutions also became useful to the SRF-JRMC during the pandemic, providing valuable communication and collaboration tools during a time of uncertainty. In addition to deploying Google Workspace, SRF-JRMC’s IT department created a COVID-19 Pandemic Dashboard, a Google-based site that consolidated Japanese and international open-source data on COVID-19 outbreaks and provided updated guidance. The Dashboard was built in less than two hours, using Looker Studio, and it leveraged an automated data collection process to track local hospitalization numbers. Before building the site, it took the NAVSEA team hours to compile this information; now, the team can access this information in real-time. 

“This Dashboard drastically reduced redundant weekly meetings centered on COVID-19 updates, and saved more than 10 hours per week manually gathering data and presenting it via slide decks,” said Guo. “Additionally, this capability enabled our leadership to make real-time, data-driven decisions and put necessary risk mitigations in place. It empowered supervisors across the shipyard to reference this website at any time and put additional health measures in place to minimize the transmission of COVID-19. Every minute counts at our two shipyards in Japan, so this made a tremendous impact on our operational efficiency and ensured the safety of our sailors.”

Delivering the best possible tools means making life better and work more fulfilling for millions of people, inside and outside of government. To help government agencies maintain access to communications and collaboration tools that they need during and after an incident to keep work going, we are also offering workshops for federal, state and local governments. Learn more about Google for Government solutions for the Department of Defense, and Google Workspace for Government.

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