September 9, 2009 By News Report
Minneapolis will donate hundreds of used personal computers this year to poor or disabled Minnesota residents through a new arrangement between the city's outsourcing vendor and a local nonrofit group.
Unisys, which manages the city's IT infrastructure, will turn over used city government computers to St. Paul-based PCs for People, which refurbishes the machines and distributes them to Minnesota citizens. Unisys has donated 47 computers to PCs for People so far, according to the city.
City leaders said the arrangement will help ensure that residents have access to technology.
"We live in a digital age, but not everyone has access to computers and the Internet," said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. "We don't want to leave a single person behind when it comes to technology access and that's why Minneapolis, along with its partners Unisys and PCs for People, has worked hard to increase everyone's access to technology. That access can improve lives through increased education and access to essential information and services."
Minneapolis outsourced city government IT infrastructure to Unisys in 2003. In 2008, the company signed a new five-year contract to continue as the city's service provider worth $48 million.
PCs for People expects to distribute computers to 15,000 families over the next five years through PC donations from businesses, government and individuals, according to Andy Elofson, founder of the organization. To receive a computer from PCs for People, recipients must have income below 150 percent of the poverty level, have a disability or be enrolled in a government assistance program.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.