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These Mobile Tech Hubs Are Solar Powered and Could Bring Internet to 6,400 Indian Villages

In our mobile, hyper-connected society, it’s easy to lose sight of the ease and convenience at which we access a world of information.

A report from The Brookings Institute, for example, states that 43 percent of children in India drop out before completing upper primary school, putting India among the top five nations for out-of-school primary-age children. The Brookings report goes on to state that technology has high potential to improve education if implemented effectively and cost-effectively. Yet a WorldBank report shows that more than half the global population, 4.2 billion people, remain offline, with more than a quarter of them in India alone.

Aside from the missed social connections through communities like Snapchat, Slack, and Twitter—billions of people without online connections are excluded from access to education, financing, employment opportunities, health and human services, government programs, and so much more. Take, for instance, those who count on agriculture for their livelihood. Lack of access to technology means missing vital weather information, soil and crop research, trend reports, and it means they are locked out of markets in which to buy supplies and sell their products.

Helping Bridge the Divide

HP is working to change this dynamic for millions of people in rural India—building on its focus to empower people, wherever they are, to build a more prosperous life. HP has committed to develop 48 self-contained, IT-enabled digital inclusion and learning labs, called HP World on Wheels (HP WoW) to reach underserved populations throughout rural India. HP WoW opens doors to digital literacy, education resources, IT skills development, access to common public services, and entrepreneurship training. The program is expected to serve about 6,400 Indian villages, impacting more than 15 million people in the next six years.

Each 20-seat, IT-enabled HP WoW digital inclusion and learning lab will be equipped with HP computing and printing equipment, such as HP Thin Clients, an HP Workstation, and an HP OfficeJet all-in-one printer, as well as software suites and e-learning tools, like HP Classroom Manager and HP VideoBook. Each lab will be powered by 10 high-efficiency solar panels of 315 watts each, generating nearly 15 kilowatts of energy daily—which is almost 20 percent higher than the lab’s daily energy requirements.

The commitment was announced at the Global Citizen Festival India November 19, with the first HP WoW digital inclusion and learning labs hitting the road by the end of the year. In its first year, HP WoW will cover eight states: Uttrakhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Gujrat.

Supporting Digital India Five Days A Week

The program supports the Indian government’s flagship Digital Indiainitiative, which boasts a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

As the lab travels from village to village, it will initially offer three digital learning and IT literacy tracks five days a week for people of all learning ages.

The first, called Digital Literacy, is part of the National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM), and is open to people ages 14 to 60. The Digital Literacy digital learning program aims to increase the ability of individuals and communities to understand and use digital technologies for meaningful actions within life situations. The program aspires to make at least one person in each family digitally literate. HP India is partnering with the government of India under the NDLM to drive digital literacy, IT education, and entrepreneurship training.

The second, which encompasses Digital Literacy and IT education for students looks to build both digital literacy and provide an IT education for people from third grade to college age.

Third, the Entrepreneurship Development Program, targeting high school students and young adults, focuses on building the skills to start and grow a business. It includes access to free online business and IT skills training with HP Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE), a program of the HP Foundation.

What About the Weekends?

On Saturdays, HP WoW acts as a mobile Common Services Center, where people can access social services such as applying for an Aadhaar identification card, opening an online bank account, paying bills online, applying for licenses, obtaining records, and participating in e-commerce.

The lab can also be used for audio and video conferencing services, such as maternal and child health sessions for expectant and new moms, agricultural training for farmers, career counseling for students and youth, and remote volunteering opportunities like mentoring and skill sharing.

“As we work to create technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere, we recognize that a big gap remains between those who have access, and those who don’t,” said Nate Hurst, HP’s Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer. “We’re thrilled to take another step forward in helping bridge the divide with HP World on Wheels, bringing quality education, entrepreneurship training, and access to essential services to people right where they are.”