OLPC To Send Rugged Laptops To Haiti

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The low-cost laptop specialist OLPC has become the latest tech company to pledge help after the earthquake in Haiti

The organisation behind the so-called “$100 laptop” scheme is calling for donations to help it dispatch a consignment of machines to aid workers in disaster-hit Haiti.

In a statement posted this week, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) scheme announced that it is working with several other tech companies to dispatch communication equipment to help aid efforts in Haiti.

“We want free ruggedized XO Laptops running Linux (with Wi-Fi, browser, kids’ learning activities and a whole lot more) to go to to aid/reconstruction groups who quickly explain to us their need,” the company stated. “We’re in discussions with 5 so far, but want you to help us find many more aid/reconstruction groups and initiatives that can leverage our work. Supplies are limited, but we will do our human best to consider all genuinely committed groups.”

Haiti was hit by the effects of an earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter Scale on Tuesday, 12th January. Although the epicentre of the quake was off the coast of the island nation, it was still only 17km from the capital Port-au-Prince. After-shocks measuring between 5.9 and 5.5 have also hit and experts have said that an earthquake on this scale has not been recorded in the region for 250 years.

OLPC is working with US Naval Postgraduate School’s Networks Research Group’s Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief project ( and Free and Open Source Disaster Management System Sahana which was inspired by 2004’s Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Last week, emergency telecoms group Telecoms Sans Frontieres (TSF) revealed that the destruction of large parts of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince is hampering its efforts to re-establish communications in the disaster-hit country. Other tech companies have also pledged help for the relief-effort in Haiti including Google, Microsoft and Apple. For instance, throughout 13 January, Google worked with GeoEye to make the satellite-imagery company’s latest orbital photos of Port-au-Prince available to Google Earth.

Mobile service provider Digicel has also announced that it is proving around $10 million of free call credit to customers in Haiti. ” As well as the US$5 million which is being donated to NGOs by Digicel directly, Digicel has set up the Digicel Haiti Relief Fund. By Friday evening – just two days after it went live – a massive $300,000 was donated by Digicel customers across our 32 markets worldwide,” the organisation stated.

Unfortunately, as with any disaster, a number of online scams have also erupted. The FBI posted an advisory on 13 January reminding potential donators to “apply a critical eye and do their due diligence” before responding to web-based requests with aid.

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According to reports on the BBC in December, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is working on a follow-up to its XO laptop which has been adopted by more than 1.4m children in 35 countries. The latest device, known as the X0-3, will be available in 2012 and will cost less than $100, the organisation claims.


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