Volunteers deliver laptops to support relief efforts in Japan

NetHope, Microsoft, Dell, HP and InterConnection Partner to Deliver Laptops to Rescue Workers in Japan

Guest post By Gisli Olafsson, NetHope Emergency Response Director

Communication is the lifeblood of rescue operations in Japan. Without the ability to share information and collaborate in real-time, rescue workers struggle to coordinate the delivery of food, water, medicine and other aid to those in need. This is true now more than ever, as snow and frigid temperatures in northern parts of the country slow relief efforts.

Based on initial reports, we’ve learned that communication networks have been severely hampered in the devastated areas of Japan. What is needed now is to provide satellite-based communication equipment and service, as well as hardware like laptops, satellite phones and more, by which humanitarian agencies in the region can communicate with each other and the outside world.

Delivering this equipment to NGOs is our top priority at NetHope, and that’s why we’re teaming up with our friends at Microsoft, Dell, HP and InterConnection to prepare and deliver 250 refurbished laptops to humanitarian workers in Japan. Rescuers from several organizations including Care, ChildFund Japan, Habitat for Humanity, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Japanese Red Cross, Mercy Corps/Peace Winds, Oxfam Japan, Plan International, Relief International and Save the Children will use the laptops to share information and coordinate relief efforts across their groups.

For instance, at Save the Children, relief workers will use the PCs to coordinate delivery of supplies to a network of child-friendly spaces the organization is creating in evacuation centers and shelters in Japan. The spaces are aimed at providing displaced children in Japan with a safe place to play and to give parents a break from watching their children while they register for emergency assistance. Save the Children estimates that as many as 75,000 children may have been displaced because of the earthquake and tsunami.

Yesterday, 20 volunteers came together in Seattle to prepare the laptops, donated by Dell and HP, for shipment to Japan. The volunteers installed both English and Japanese language Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010 software donated by Microsoft on the machines. Experts from InterConnection, a Seattle-based nonprofit that specializes in charitable computer reuse and recycling, were on-hand to assist and host the volunteers at its Wallingford office. The volunteers came from all over the Puget Sound region and include Microsoft employees as well as others who responded to calls for volunteers on VolunteerMatch, Facebook and Craig’s List.

NetHope would like to thank the volunteers, as well as Microsoft, Dell, HP and InterConnection for their support. Their hard work and generous donations will have a big impact on rescue operations in Japan, and our NGO member agencies are eagerly awaiting the refurbished laptops.(Please visit the site to view this video)A look at how the PCs are prepared for Japan.

To learn more about InterConnection including how you can donate your old computers to support efforts like this one, visit http://www.interconnection.org/. And, to learn more about what NetHope and its members are doing in Japan, please visit www.nethope.org/japan.

Dell is committed to being a responsible community partner and comes together in times of crisis to help those in need. To further aid in the Japan recovery efforts, Dell is contributing $1 million through corporate and employee-matched donations to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent. The company continues to stay in contact with employees, customers, partners and emergency response organizations to help rebuild the communities where damage has occurred.

HP and its employees as well as the Hewlett-Packard Company Foundation have committed more than $2.3 million in technology products and cash donations to organizations and initiatives that are aiding the Japan relief effort. Save the Children, the American Red Cross and a partnership with Microsoft and Dell to support NetHope and Interconnection with a laptop donation, are amongst those that have thus far benefitted from our support.

To help support ongoing relief efforts, Microsoft has made an initial commitment of $2 million, which includes $250,000 in cash as well as in-kind contributions. U.S. staff have already raised more than $700,000 through our existing employee matching program. We’re working with customers, partners, local government, and nonprofit agencies to support relief efforts. You can find out more on our disaster response page.

Tags: DellChildFund JapanDisaster ResponseHabitat for HumanityHPInterConnectionInternational Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent SocietiesJapanJapanese Red CrossMercy Corps/Peace WindsNetHopeNGOOxfam JapanPlan Internationalrelief effortRelief InternationalSave the Children

Published March 25th 2011 at Microsoft