A 1990s hit song inspired ALAN MIDDLETON to put the mountain of surplus computer equipment to good use
Being unable to see loved ones, whether for a simple visit, a birth, a celebration, or spending special last moments in sad, difficult times. During the first national lockdown in March 2020, reading about these severe impacts to various people’s situations got to me as I started going about my work day at home.
As usual, I checked my Whatsapp groups before starting. In one “lads” group in particular, one member has a special affection for Heather Small, the lead singer of 90’s pop chart stalwarts M People, and regularly posts videos of her singing away on his TV in the group. On this occasion, he shared the classic “Proud”, with the iconic chorus questioning, “What have you done today to make you feel proud?”
I didn’t realise at the time but this turned out to be a bit of inspiration. My thoughts from my morning returned later in the day as Heather’s chorus was singing away in my head, and sure enough I had a realisation: With Capito having a stock of used devices that would normally be recycled, we had a real opportunity to do some good, make a difference, and help others.
We launched an appeal for equipment that was going unused and once a device had been donated, our team would then arrange to collect, recover, and securely data wipe the device before redeploying to the organisations in need. These were organisations that were either digitally disadvantaged or were struggling to function without devices and offices. Places that made a difference to individuals’ lives.
Capito brokered this free service for both the donor and the recipients alike, at our own cost. This initiative enabled people recovering from trauma to continue accessing counselling remotely, enabled final year nursing students to finish their studies and get out in the field to support the NHS’s efforts, supported the education sector whilst a blended learning model was adopted, enabled agile working and/or training for front line emergency services workers, and also supported children with their education whilst in hospital.
Recipients of this initiative were very appreciative. Scottish Fire & Rescue Service said: “With the majority of our support staff now working from home, the demand for laptops has increased significantly these past few weeks, and these laptops will allow another 50 key workers, to work from home and continue to support the running of the fourth largest fire service in the world.”
Ayrshire Hospice remarked: “It is essential that our services continue to support patients and families and the laptops will support the hospice team to do this. This donation is gratefully received and very much appreciated especially at this time.”
The Manda Centre said: “The provision of the laptops has allowed us to hold conference/video calls for operational matters with our staff, management board members, practitioners and volunteers. We are also able to host support, training and conference/video calls with the people we support. The provision of this equipment is greatly appreciated and will be of benefit to the future development and support provision of the Manda Centre.”
Unused equipment is finding a new purpose
Dumfries and Galloway College noted: “This initiative has been an absolute lifesaver for us and we are so grateful to all involved. The laptops that we received are going to be a massive help in enabling our colleagues to work from home, which will in turn help get some of our students through their qualifications. For us, the benefit here cannot be understated.”
As a result of this initiative, Capito was selected as a finalist in the GO Awards Scotland 2020 and the Comms National Awards (CNA) 2020. We were ultimately crowned the winner of the Best Reseller Innovation Award at the CNAs, while also having been Highly Commended in the Keeping Britain Working category.
Fast forward to now, and the song “Danger Zone” came on recently. Many will know it from the new Top Gun: Maverick film – although those mature enough will remember it from the original film, sung by Kenny Loggins, in 1986.
This made me think about the same subject again, albeit with some additional thoughts….how?
Through the last couple of years, significant volumes of people have received replaced or renewed equipment and devices that allow them to work in a more agile manner. The re-integration of workplace services, put more simply as people going back to offices to work, throws many organisations an interesting conundrum across facilities, commercial and IT teams: what does the new office environment need to look like? Do we need them? Where? What percentage of staff are expected on a daily basis?
What about all that IT “stuff” that was left behind two years ago? Has it been touched or used since then? Is it now obsolete or surplus to requirements? In the “Danger Zone” of considerations:
- Do you know what is there?
- Licensing and compliance – are you over-subscribed?
- Facilities Management – could areas be put to better and more productive use?
- Health & Safety – is it creating an issue in the facility, such as blocking exits or being stored incorrectly?
- Value – is there still value to unlock in it or can it be re-deployed elsewhere in the organisation?
- Security – is it physically secure? What risk is there of data leakage? If breached, what could the potential cost/fine of data protection/GDPR compliance be? What about the damage to brand reputation?
- Importantly, can I help others? Can it be re-used by a charity for example or to support third sector organisations promoting sustainability and the circular economy for which everyone has a responsibility?
Ultimately, if it has to be disposed of, a WEEE compliant solution with secure data erasure/destruction and confirmation what assets have been processed is a must.
If the above resonates, get out the “danger zone”, make a difference and ask yourself “What have you done today to make you feel proud?”
Alan Middleton is director of end user computing at Capito
>Latest Daily Business news