The Container Project
– repatriating technology –

The Container Project is a not-for-profit Community Multimedia Center providing access to new technology for marginalised and under-educated people in rural communities. The Project promotes the use of the Internet and other multimedia platform as a new and innovative means of learning and creative development for career boosting activity and empowerment through the use of information communication technology and computers.

Our main strategy lies in the introduction of the use of computer related technology to grassroots communities, empowering the youths and long-term unemployed in developing and improving their ability to successfully interact with the new and emerging technologies. The "Container" is a phisically a 40ft shipping container unit, equipped with computers and other forms of communication media. It was designed to be transported across the island, setting up workshop projects, introducing the target groups to the creative and productive use of computer software and hardware, communication technology, giving access and demonstrative communication skills to those who would otherwise not have had these opportunities. (In the pilot phase the Container has been “immobilised” at Palmers Cross; in the first instance because we did not have a chassis, but, in the months after the launch, because of the communitys' attachment to the project.)

The project recognises the fact that as the developed world increasingly turns to ICT in all aspects of everyday life – for communication, business, trade, information and pleasure – people in developing countries are being left behind. Thus the gap between rich and poor, developed and developing countries is widening. The Container sets out to address this imbalance, it's concept is simple:

1. To build a mobile computer resource facility that is familiar in its appearance so as not to intimidate its target users. (Shipping containers are a familiar sight along the Jamaican roadways as a form of localised development infrastructure.)
2. Equip the Container with computer terminals and Internet connection.
3. Deliver a non-profit mobile access space to new technology for marginalised urban and rural communities linking them to their heritage and cultural backbone. Giving creative individuals / marginalised groups open access to computer equipment.
4. Drive the Container into the heart of the communities where people are most marginalised.
5. Work with grass roots people to demonstrate the value of ICT and DTP– showing how it can enhance people’s lives through improved communication and access to new opportunities for both business and pleasure.
6. Provide basic training in computer software and Internet use by multimedia professionals from around the world.
7. Aim to establish a permanent local Internet provider (Cyber Center)– whether this is setting up links with an existing resource that may exist nearby, or fundraising for provision where none exists.
8. Move the Container on to new communities, building connections and networks along the way.

In short, the Container is a mobile workstation existing primarily to provide simplified access to information technology about topics that are distributed over a number of different applications. Some fifteen plus computers and other equipment in the specially converted container will form the core of a roving multimedia center. The Container will work with local and international collaborators and artists to produce a series of multimedia workshops. At the most basic level the Container will function as a link to new media resources; at a more advanced level it will provide considerable added value and training to the existing workforce and a resource for information and communication source information. The project will also be collecting donated computers to set up a series of multimedia workshops in communities that the Container will be visiting across Jamaica extending the prospect of free access and continuous connectivity with the project and facilitation groups around the world. The main objectives of these workshops are to facilitate the idea of alternative networking between the Caribbean islands and the rest of the world. Creating a Do-It-Yourself medium through the use of computers and new technology.

1. Environment
The facility is situated in a mobile refitted 40ft shipping container with open windows and doors. The container is located on an asphalted open lot in close proximity to the well-known Parker Pond, a landmark in Palmers Cross.

There are 16 workstations running three operating systems -Windows, Mac OS and Linux with CD R/RW and DVD players, Printers and other peripheral.
All the equipment is available for community use. The Project provides video taping, audio recording, graphics design and other basic software manipulation.
The training methodology encourages users to pursue their own interests and ambitions, calling upon the help of colleagues and professionals as and when required. The Container offers the opportunity to learn and produce using office applications, multimedia and music, and also involves participants in day to day hardware and operating system maintenance.

2.1 Connectivity
A land line was recently installed by CW Jamaica. Application had been made in 2000. It is hoped that the Container will receive sponsorship for an ADSL line in March 2004 which will enable it to provide Internet services.The Container makes use of Open source technology and operates in a Linux based network server.

2.2 Power
The facility is supplied by the national grid (JPS co), and as such is subject to the vagaries of periodic power cuts due to load shedding and various other reasons. The risk posed by varying voltages to the Unit is countered through the installation of a 220V system using UK power points which are fused .

2.3 Adequacy of the physical facilities
The facility is adequate to fulfil its current remits and forms an integral part of the ownership policy under which the community feel that the facility is very much a part of them.

3 The Users
There are currently 210 registered users of the facility, who range in age from 6 up to 65 years. There is no upper age limit barrier. The user group are broken down as follows:
20% Ages 6-12 years
70% Ages 13-30 years
10% Ages 31-65 years
Several users travel from up to 20 miles away to use the facility.
3.1 Level of education
62% users have education up to Grade 6- 9
12% have secondary education
15 % have primary level
<3% have tertiary education.

3.2 Occupation
The break down of occupation among users of the Container is as follows:
Unemployed 43%
Students 36%
Self-employed 15%
Employed 3%
Professional 3%
The employed group includes those which work in bars and stores in Palmers Cross, May Pen and environs. Of those self employed, some are mechanics, chicken farmers or involved in the building construction trade. Of the unemployed are young men and women, of varying educational standard with nothing to do.

3.3 Percentage awareness and receptiveness to information and communication technology
Almost 100% of visitors to the Project leave with an appreciation of ICT and its potential value to them and their community.

3.4 Percentage experience in, or exposure to use of the information and communication technology
Approximately 3% of members were already exposed to information technology and have used it in one form or another prior to coming to the Container.

3.5 Daily percentage level of usage of ICT facilities by community members
Usage varies with the highest number of persons coming in the afternoons and on Saturdays. The Container is open 10 hrs per day and can accommodate 50 persons per day. On average about 75% of capacity usage occurs each day. Palmers Cross is located in central Jamaica/south east Clarendon an area of high unemployment and under-educated people. Though rural the community is not a farming one and consists of mostly domestic inhabitants seeking low-level employment and is statistically a high crime area. Although training for employment socialisation and self-actualisation have become important deliverables the Container is faithful to its original mission which is to be a user-friendly community access point for trans-border communication and information between the people of Palmers Cross of all ages and relatives friends and opportunities in far-flung and distant locations cross the globe. The container Project teaches people of all ages to use the computer to industry standards and also as a creative tool and for personal communication needs. We offer traditional ICT Course in Office applications Multimedia Production.