Closing the Digital Divide for Young People

Hamilton Rentals helps Capita give the gift of technology – ensuring older devices get a make-over that will help children in the London Borough of Barnet enjoy a better educational future.

The Plan

Closing the digital divide

Since 2013, Capita has been working in partnership with the London Borough of Barnet to enable better outcomes for local people.

When the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in school closures, the operations team at Capita realised it was time to apply some creative thinking to solve a critical problem. The mission – to help the Council ensure that every child in the London Borough of Barnet was able to learn digitally.

According to Ofcom, an estimated 9% of children in the UK don’t have access to a laptop or desktop computer at home. Determined to ensure that no child in the London Borough of Barnet would be disadvantaged, the team at Capita came up with a bright idea.

“We were in the process of undertaking a major technology refresh project for the Council, which meant a lot of older kit was being returned – including laptops,” explains Kirit Patel, Operation Service Manager at Capita.

“We offered to prepare as many of these old devices as possible for re-use, donating these to the Council for redistribution to families who don’t have access to the technology they need to embrace digital learning.”

The Project

Helping young people stay connected

To ensure it was able to recycle the maximum number of laptops in the fastest time possible, Capita turned to Hamilton Rentals to help it undertake the processing and cleaning of equipment for community use.

“With limited storage capacity or bench space at our facility, repurposing hundreds of laptops for use by children and adults was beyond our in-house capabilities,” explains Kirit Patel. “We needed to work with a trusted partner that could manage the whole process in a secure and efficient way.”

“We talked to Hamilton Rentals and they came up with a viable and streamlined solution that would enable us to pursue our vision of helping young people stay connected during lockdown – and beyond.”

Tasked with reconditioning the Council’s used laptops and giving them a second lease of life, Hamilton Rentals would be responsible for ensuring all devices were wiped to factory settings and rebuilt and upgraded for use.

The Results

Getting every pupil online

Over a 10 day period, Hamilton Rentals collected around 400 laptops and returned over 250 fully operational ‘ready to use’ laptops ready for distribution back to the local community.

“Hamilton Rentals demonstrated impressive speed and professionalism in the way they tackled this project,” confirms Kirit Patel.

“Every refurbished laptop came back packaged in its own individual box – complete with a full report covering the make, model and serial number of every item. We’re now liaising with the London Borough of Barnet, who will be responsible for distributing these items back into the community.”

The innovative project to ensure vulnerable children weren’t disadvantaged during the pandemic will have value long after schools re-open.

“With many families struggling with the digital divide that is widening existing education gaps, we’re delighted that with a little creative thinking, we were able to come up with a way to ensure that these older devices could have their life extended.”

“It just goes to show that with a little effort and creative thinking, a lot can be done – even with tech that isn’t always in tip-top condition. This pioneering project enabled us to give-back to the community in a constructive and environmentally friendly way,” concludes Kirit Patel.

The Results

Capita Local Public Services (LPS) is a socially responsible business that uses applied digital transformation and professional services expertise to improve the productivity of local government operations and the citizen experience of public services. LPS do this to make public services better and help local government partners to release resources that can be deployed back into front line service priorities.

As a strategic partner to local government, LPS work together with clients to co-design new solutions in a rapidly evolving world – helping to make council services financially sustainable and enabling placemaking that creates vibrant and liveable communities through optimising town centres and public property, supporting the delivery of affordable homes, and delivering the digital and physical infrastructure that allows communities to thrive.

Recycling laptops for donation

To ensure the re-utilised laptops would be able to support students for years to come, Hamilton Rentals:

  • Evaluated the condition of every laptop
  • Cleaned and refurbished laptops, replacing faulty hard disks/keys/etc
  • Securely wiped each device of sensitive data in compliance with UK government standards
  • Installed Windows 10 on every device and tested
  • Tested and individually packaged every laptop ready for use
  • Returned to refurbished laptops Capita for distribution to the London Borough of Barnet
  • Appropriately destroyed any devices unfit for use – parts were stripped and recycled where appropriate