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WCC PCs Will Contribute To Knowledge Economy

WCC PCs Will Contribute To Wellington's Knowledge Economy

Today, the Wellington City Council's Planning & Performance committee agreed unanimously that rather than auctioning off its old PCs, they should be distributed via a charitable trust to the people of Wellington.

Bill Dashfield, Chair of the Wellington Regional 2020 Communications Trust, says "This decision shows Council's continued support for community use of Information Technology, which is essential for a local Knowledge Economy.

The PCs will be refurbished and distributed to Wellington City community groups and schools at a very low cost, around $120 with a 3 month warranty. Mr Dashfield says "With recycled PCs, equipment cost is no longer a barrier. Some groups will need training and advice and technical assistance. 2020 can help them because we have the experience of running successful community technology projects already such as NetDay , Computers in Homes and Smart Newtown. Wellington's wealth of volunteers make this possible."

Cr Celia Wade-Brown, Green Wellington City Councillor, is delighted that about 400 low cost PCs will be going into the Wellington community.

Her persistence in following up the best use for WCC's PCs was rewarded today when the whole council agreed to donate the surplus PCs to the Wellington community. More will probably follow in the subsequent two years.

Computers that are too slow for some business applications are more than adequate for emailing and searching the Web. School children can contact children in other countries, explore the online world and record their own work.

Ms Wade-Brown believes that the PCs are appropriate technology for many groups so they can share their views, access local and international information cheaply and swiftly. Social and environmental activists, refugees searching for news of their countries, people writing CVs, learning languages or taking teach-yourself courses online are this city's e-citizens. They are also enabled to have their say on Council and Central Govt consultation more easily.

People with computer skills also have an advantage in today's job market. "We can't have an inclusive society if many people can't use a computer and are afraid to learn. Young or old, Kiwis or immigrants, computer skills improve their chances of finding a good job." says Ms Wade-Brown.

Re-using PCs has other benefits too. There are huge problems of toxic waste if PCs are disposed of in landfills - their components include heavy metals and bromine based fire retardants. In Germany, manufacturers have to take used PCs back - and often re-use the casings and just change the motherboards, for example. Upgrades are beginning to happen in New Zealand, too.

After ensuring the PCs have licensed software and no hardware problems, they will be available to community groups and schools. Groups applying

will need a plan of how to use them and get necessary training. "Dropping computer boxes into an unprepared community is worse than useless." says Ms Wade-Brown, also a 2020 trustee." Access is about people's needs so our motto for community computing is People First, Technology Second".

Application forms will be available from http://www.2020.org.nz/ from 1st May 2002. Printed forms will also be available by ringing 04 297 3027. Forms will be available from WCC libraries too.

If more applications are received than there are PCs, that's a great reason for other big organisations to pass on their resources to the community.

Wellington 2020 Communications Trust can help groups find technical volunteers, fill in funding applications and share models that have worked locally.

Wellington Regional Economic Development Trust is the main funder of the Wellington Regional 2020 Communications Trust.

www.smartnewtown.org.nz - a local example where four community venues use recycled PCs - Newtown School, Pacific Island Network Centre, Newtown Community & Cultural Centre and the Pacific Island Network Centre.

http://wcc.govt.nz/council/committees/2002/pdf/Planning_and_Performance/838_PC%20Disposal%20Report%20020408.pdf (WCC report for P&P)

http://www.pc-recycling.co.nz/ the company which will recycle according to CANZ www.canz.org.nz standards.

Belgian refugee story http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1917000/1917441.stm

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