Free tech support in Washington, D.C. is improving the digital inclusion of lower-income households
The Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) of Washington, D.C. has launched “All Hands on Tech,” a publicly funded programme in which local volunteers and the city’s own technicians help residents fix their ICT devices for free.
Two pilot events were held last year, serving some of D.C.’s poorest communities. The majority of the residents who attended earned less than USD 50,000 a year, while one-third made less than USD 10,000.
Many lower-income households own just one device, and the costs of repairing it can be prohibitive for those with little disposable income: according to CityLab, the web magazine which reported this story, spyware and virus removal can easily cost USD 150, while the cost for data recovery starts at USD 200 and can go up to USD 1,500.
Delano Squires, head of OCTO’s digital inclusion initiative Connect.DC., says that in America “you will hear device access mentioned along with internet access and training as the three-legged stool of digital inclusion.” The provision of free tech support to keep devices functioning is therefore important to ensuring the digital inclusion of low-income citizens.
Because of the success of its pilot programme, OCTA plans to host six more All Hands on Tech events in D.C. starting in the spring of 2019.