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Mar 15 2013

Harrow Libraries – computers broken, no end in sight

library_computer_childHarrow Council has issued this statement about the ongoing problems with public-access computers it its libraries:

Harrow is investing significant sums of money in our libraries so users have brand new computers at every one of our libraries. 

We know that our residents love their libraries, which is why we would like to reassure residents that our modern age ‘People’s Network’ which includes free Wi-Fi, will be up and running soon so the entire community can access 21st Century technology. 

At the moment all of Harrow Council’s ICT systems are in the process of being upgraded to provide a better service for our residents. This is an ambitious project and ambitious projects sometimes experience delays. Although we would have liked to have upgraded our 11 libraries by now, the library project is part of the wider upgrade and has to integrate with other improvements. However, the new PCs are on order and we are working hard to ensure that this project is completed as soon as possible.

– Portfolio Holder for Community & Cultural Services, Cllr David Perry

What they didn’t say, is that only 90 computers will be installed, to replace the 142 that will be taken out, a reduction of  36%. They will tell you – they told me! – that they’re going to make up for this huge cut by installing “free wifi” into the libraries – the terms and conditions (ie: bandwidth, maximum duration, port blocking, privacy & traffic sniffing, packet shaping, limiting, security, web filtering, etc, etc, etc,) haven’t been made clear.

And, of course, this is nothing to get excited about: just about every district centre has a plethora of cafes, restaurants or pubs that offer free wifi. This may be just a ruse to make it centered around the MyHarrow account – perhaps it’ll only be available to those who’ve signed up for the MyHarrow service?

Given the Council’s lacklustre approach to IT so far, this little project has plenty of scope and potential to go wrong. And no, we don’t know what “as soon as possible” means either.

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