Visions and challenges for future ICT reuse

20. Juli 2023

FAIR Denmark has closed up its workshop. This blog post gives more background on why why decided not to continue FAIR Denmark and what we think needs to change to make similar work succeed in the future.

Context: If you aren't familiar with our work in the past >1 decade, you should try scrolling through our photo galleries.

This blog post starts with a lot of analysis, but we’ll round off with a delightful Utopian vision ☀️

New challenges for refurbishing ICT equipment

This part is pretty negative! If you don’t like a bunch of complaints, scroll to the next section ⤵️

To our knowledge, a lot of companies have adopted practices that have made it harder to approach them with our previous socioeconomic mix of ICT reuse, and humanitarian impact:

Challenges in our general environment include:

Addressing challenges

Let’s try to address some of the challenges with some more direct recommendations.

Firstly, we know that there is still a GIGANTIC GAP between rich and poor countries. At some point, we had a little hack to redistribute resources and it worked well as a model. Now we need a new model, but we don’t know how it will look. Regardless, we think that redistribution of resources is still as relevant as it has ever been.

What we were doing would still make sense today.

The following list contains some suggestions of ways to address the challenges outlined before. We’ll conclude this with a fairy-tale Utopian concept of how we’d like our work to happen (with the one giant exception that we’d like global inequality eliminated).

What we would like to see is:

…and there’s more we could add! It’s definitely not a problem to come up with great ideas on how to build a better environment to make reuse and refurbishment more successful.

Our Utopia

Let’s allow ourselves to dream and be naive for a while. By removing all practical boundaries of how the world really works, we can see where we want to go much clearer:

Through an honest understanding that ICT equipment is born out of a huge environmental impact and should have its full potential human value unlocked, organizations that buy equipment choose to uphold a pledge to take responsibility for their equipment’s maximized life, impact and value. Buyers of ICT equipment understand its huge positive role in education for the children and youths in the world’s most poverty-impacted places. Everyone agrees that insisting on continued life-span of ICT equipment where it has the greatest human impact is a bare-minimum of wealth transfer, amounting to a moral imperative.

Acting out this moral imperative comes at no real risk for an altruistic company: In order to manage data security, certified NGOs ensure that the refurbishment process is efficient and safe. The NGOs even collaborate in a global network to build the best possible infrastructures for refurbishment and repair.

These local refurbishment and repair activities are carried out in fully equipped workshops by volunteer professionals, and everything is subsequently stored in a warehouse on pallets, ready to be packed in shipping containers. The workshop and the warehouse is provided free of charge, and the certification is done by a third-party free of charge. NGOs and volunteers can focus on their work, rather than fundraising to cover banal operational costs. All of the refurbished equipment is tracked throughout the process to ensure full transparency for anyone who has contributed equipment.

In the recipient country, the educational ministry is directly involved in handling maintenance and training and is running their own workshop that’s identical to the source country’s workshop. Infrastructure for repair and logistics is shared between the source country and the beneficiary, so they find lots of ways to collaborate and develop their efforts.

Finally, at educational facilities, the equipment realizes its potential through a range of open source software and educational content. University students visit sites and have important internship opportunities, and share important research and observations to continue the development of open source software and educational content, as well as doing on-site maintenance and teacher training.

Closing note

Why did we write this blog post? We hope to use it as a reference for future initiatives. Maybe our own, maybe someone else’s.

You’re always welcome to keep in touch. Our lines are still open. Practically speaking, FAIR Norway continues to operate, and we do not have intentions to pull down our website.

Oh, and by the way, you can also follow FAIR Denmark on our new Fediverse account:

Billeder: Closing FAIR Denmark's operations

FAIR Denmark is closing down

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