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Consolidated Hardware Clearing House

FROM: Dirk P

What NEED does this meet?
In the US we have a huge surplus of reasonably current machines (Pentium 233+) that can still be used as small-scale servers, special purpose workstations, thin clients and what have you. My organization alone regularly has to sell at surplus, in a flea-market or boot sale fashion, literally hundreds of still serviceable workstations and servers because of upgrades.

My idea is to create a centralized site where any charitable organization can register and state their needs, and organizations with surplus hardware can list what they potentially have available to donate to legitimate charities. Obviously a thorough background check will be necessary on both sides to insure the system is not abused. It would include a directory of available volunteers, with their skillsets, who are willing to help package, transport, ship, install, plan, configure, etc... the donated hardware and applicable software.

If anyone in the country could get their own PC and the training to use it, what could the future hold as far as a tchnolgically prepared and proficient population?

What is the APPROACH?
I am not really sure how to approach this project. The hardware/software and programming is a minor concern compared to the massive task of getting organizations to buy into it. I have just been mulling this idea over for a few years now and thought it you could use it then feel free.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
There are so many school systems, churches, neighbourhood centres and other good causes that can't get hold of decent technology to help their members. School systems in particular could benefit from having an infrastructure built through this approach. I strongly feel the more people we have conversant with technology the better off the plant as a whole will be. I think with the ability to coordinate the donations and expertise of many organizations it would be possible to build an infrastructure of assistance, where access to a PC and the training to use it are available at almost no cost.

What is the COMPETITION?
I don't know of any other consolidated approaches to this task. While there are organizations that do perform this service I believe they would be more than pleased to broaden their reach with a country wide system. They might even be willing to pitch in with assistance in resources and manpower.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
The hardware and software portion is probably the easiest to impement. Ideally it will run on Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (LAMP), which lowers the software costs to nil. The project can be implemented on surplus hardware donated from the same organizations we would be assisting.

The dificult part is getting the charitable organizations, businesses, and government entities to buy into the approach. Schools are an example of the difficulty faced. They are extremely reluctant to take donations due to district budget constraints, local politics, tax issues, and internal political issues. Changes in their procedures would have to be made in order for them to truly benefit from a program like this.

October 31, 2003 in Giving stuff away, Matching System, NGO Tools | Permalink


I think this is a great idea, I know of loads of places where kit is thrown in skips as its easier to get rid of it landfill and with EU regs on recycling and lanfill coming in then giving companies a way to recycle their computers to the advantage of society would be great. Cost all the machines would need an OS (OK Linux is free) but most people are more familiar with windows so I think there would be a cost implication in providing training, even with volunteers helping out. (probably small though).
With the EU recycling law thing would those charities that had recieved the donated computers need to pay for their disposal? I'm not sure really what it says (or in fact if it is/will happen? does anyone else know)

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