Government services will be centralized on the new NWT eServices Portal, expected to launch by the end of 2020, said Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek. Pixabay image
IT company Global Storm is sending its first batch of computers to a school in Fort Providence just weeks after kicking off its technology donation project.
“We’re hoping to send 25 Mac Pro desktops to Deh Gáh Elementary and Secondary School in Fort Providence. We expect that batch to go out by Friday,” said Global Storm CEO Kirby Marshall in an interview June 4.
Marshall launched the program in late April as a way of addressing the technological deficiencies in many remote and Indigenous communities which hold them back from effectively accessing the remote education that NWT schools adopted in April after classrooms were closed amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The initial goal of the program was to receive from businesses and members of the public at least 500 donated notebook computers and send them to Northern communities. Desktops are accepted but notebooks are preferred because they’re easier to transport to fly-in communities.
So far more than 100 notebooks and some desktops have been received, with the units coming in from near and far.
“It’s been mostly businesses (donating) so far,” Marshall said. “We have had a number of individuals (in Yellowknife) contact us and ask about how to give away their notebooks and computers.
“We’re getting a number of inquiries from outside of the NWT, which is quite heartening. One person from a law firm in Vancouver is a member of the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines. We got 11 systems from that law firm. One person in Whitehorse heard about the program through the press. We’re working out the logistics to see if it’s worth their time and energy to ship them. We’re trying to see if a similar program exists in the Yukon.”
The school in Fort Providence was the first to receive computers partly because the hamlet is on the road system and partly because Global Storm knows the communities well in the Deh Cho and Tlicho regions, where the company provides IT and communications services.
Students in those regions have an “urgent need for 200 notebooks,” Marshall said.
Where and when the next shipment goes after Fort Providence depends on how fast Global Storm technicians can prepare the donated computers.
“It’s a bit of a process after we get them to wipe them and sanitize them and re-install the programs while we do our regular jobs. We have three technicians in Yellowknife on the ground doing the best they can to get things out the door,” said Marshall.
Some of the donated computers are first dropped off at the office of NNSL Media, which has partnered with Global Storm for the project. The devices are collected at the news organization’s office and sanitized according to NWT health guidelines. Their basic details are then logged and asset tags are added.
Once passed onto Global Storm, the company wipes the hard drives and re-installs and configures the necessary software.
“Every computer we get is a good thing,” said NNSL CEO and publisher Bruce Valpy.
“It’s all well and good to get internet into homes (in remote communities), but we’ve failed at that. The other part of it is getting the computers into the hands of students. They’re essential tools for a good education. We’ve got to get them (out there) one way or another. It’s pretty hard to get a laptop if you’re sitting in Wrigley or Gameti or somewhere like that.”
Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...
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