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Provincial Government of Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas closes the digital divide for citizens

ICT for Everyone projects aims to create complete digital inclusion by 2018

June 17, 2014, Calgary, Alberta, Canada and Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, Ecuador -- The Provincial Government of Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas is transforming digital literacy for its citizens through its "ICT for Everyone" digital inclusion project. In 2013, the provincial government launched the first phase of the digital literacy program by installing more than 600 desktop computers in schools across the province. The five-year project is designed to close the digital gap for the province's citizens who are without access to learning using technology infrastructure. The government aims to provide internet connection, ICT training and computer access to all citizens by 2018.

Geovanny Benitez, an engineer working for the Provincial Government of Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, took the lead on the project, realizing that establishing a digital infrastructure to empower learning is the most important factor to ensure citizens are educated and successful in the future. During the school day, teachers and students who often do not have computers or internet access at home, are now empowered to use the desktop computers for teaching and learning. When the school day is finished, the entire community uses the computers to develop ICT skills through adult education and certification programs, creating job applications and skill development.

Pablo Guillen, IT analyst and technology manager for the provincial government, provided technological guidance during the technology selection process. His main goal was to help the government choose a reliable solution that could also stretch the project budget. Guillen advocated to implement a computer solution using desktop virtualization (VDI) since VDI has proven to cut computing costs by up to 80 per cent.

After an extensive evaluation, the provincial government of Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas selected Canadian technology company, Userful Corporation, to deliver a reliable and high quality yet affordable VDI solution. With Userful software, the team reduced hardware, software and electricity costs to afford the maximum number of computers. By replacing expensive computers with inexpensive ultra thin or zero client computing devices with Userful software, the team was able to use just one computer to power every eight desktop computer stations with Linux software and thousands of open source applications. Each station uses only three watts of power compared to the average 120 watts of power that traditional computers use which delivers a green computing solution that dramatically saves ongoing electricity costs. "My main satisfaction with the project is that I see how the communities have received the benefits from the technology. The ICT Project is not seen as a government project but as a community project. The people are empowered," Guillen said.

Though the desktop computer stations are locked down and self-updated through the cloud to save technical support time, remotely-located project administrators are empowered with a cloud management portal to gain usage insight. Using the cloud management portal, remotely located administrators in the schools can easily manage, monitor and maintain a fleet of desktops, even without IT training. They can quickly monitor the desktop computers and generate usage statistics that shows how the computers are being used.

The success of phase one led the way for an international cooperative project with the Chinese government, with an $1.8M grant being provided by the Chinese embassy that is expected to be received in 2015. The second phase of computer deployment, currently underway, will provide thousands more citizens with computing accessibility.

"Working with the government of Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas to make the ICT for Everyone project successful has been a source of pride for our team," said Tim Griffin, chief technology officer and founder of Userful Corporation. "We congratulate the government on making strides to close the digital gap in the province and in securing an additional $1.8 million grant to achieve complete digital inclusion in five years."

Increased digital inclusion and literacy delivered through the ICT for Everyone project delivered by the provincial government of Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas is a driving factor that will stimulates economic growth and improves the quality of life for all citizens across this new political region of Ecuador.

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