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article imageGoogle donating 25,000 new Chromebook laptops to refugees

By James Walker     Jan 26, 2016 in Technology
Google has announced it will donate 25,000 Chromebooks to refugees fleeing countries like Syria for the safety of Europe. The company says Chromebooks will be a good option for refugees because of the range of software available.
Google notes that Chromebooks have become popular in education because of the ability for a centralised administrator account to oversee hundreds of Chromebook devices from one place. This same quality will help when giving Chromebooks to refugees. The not-for-profit organisations and charities receiving the laptops will be able to configure them to suit the needs of the refugees, preinstalling relevant apps to make it easier to find a life in Europe.
The company suggests the web browser could be set up to have a default homepage detailing the asylum application process for the country the refugees have arrived in. Apps designed to teach languages will make it much easier for a refugee to start communicating with European support workers while simple educational games will keep children occupied and learning.
Because Chromebooks automatically update themselves and require no extra security configuration, the laptops should be relatively simple for the refugees to start using. Google will be providing a $5.3 million grant from its division to begin distributing Chromebooks to humanitarian relief groups actively supporting the refugee crisis in Europe. Known as "Project Reconnect," the program is run in partnership with NetHope with the aim of providing refugees arriving in Germany with an easier route into work and education.
"As they make it through a dangerous journey, the first thing refugees need is to find shelter, food and access to care.", said Google in a blog post. "But soon enough, they have to learn the local language, acquire skills to work in a new country, and figure out a way to continue their studies - all in an effort to reclaim and reconnect with the lives they had before."
When compared with the million asylum seekers registered in Germany alone last year, 25,000 Chromebooks is still an insignificant amount. Google will be working to equip Internet cafés and educational workshop events with the computers, letting more people gain access to the Internet and online apps than if it gave them out to 25,000 lucky refugees.
German broadband provider Deutsche Telekom has agreed to offer cut-price Internet access to the organisations receiving the Chromebooks, helping the project to find its feet. Non-profit organisations working with refugees in Germany can apply for a grant now and Google will begin to supply Chromebooks from March 8.
Project Reconnect follows other efforts from Google to improve the lives of refugees arriving in Europe. In October, it appealed to the world for help with improving its German to Arabic translation service on Google Translate, noting most of the refugees come with nothing more than a mobile phone.
Google Translate is therefore an invaluable tool in helping refugees to learn the local language, communicate with support workers and read basic signs. Computers struggle with translating German to Arabic though so Google hurriedly put together a tool to crowd-source the translations from members of the public, something that could make a real difference to an Arabic-speaking refugee reliant on a smartphone to communicate with the rest of the country they are in.
More about Google, Chromebook, chrome os, Refugees, syrian refugees
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