IT companies pitch in with relief efforts

IT companies pitch in with relief efforts

Last month, technology vendors joined the front lines of disaster relief, giving away products and services to agencies and organizations responding to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Defense Department spokeswoman Susan Hansen said there's no list of all the donations made to the rescue and recovery efforts in New York or Washington. But 'we have been pleased,' she said.

Along with high-profile help, such as members of the Washington Redskins greeting people at a Pentagon donation stand, IT companies have given computer equipment, money and food. 'Any donation within the lines that we could utilize is certainly welcome,' Hansen said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which had occupied space on three floors in the destroyed World Trade Center, is rebuilding its offices elsewhere with vendor donations of computer hardware, software and services.

Compaq Computer Corp., which lost one employee on a hijacked jetliner and counts four other employees missing, donated $725,000 worth of PCs, iPaq handheld computers and servers to the American Red Cross in New York.

The company also donated $250,000 cash to the United Way's Sept. 11 Fund, and $225,000 to the Coombs Family Education Fund in memory of its deceased employee, Jeffrey Coombs.

Compaq also gave about 300 PCs to the Red Cross National Capital Chapter in Washington.

Matching donations

The donated computers also came with the services of Compaq partners such as Altiris Inc., a systems management company in Salt Lake City.

Some of the PCs are in kiosks where family members can search for information about victims.

Hewlett-Packard Co. donated $3 million to the Red Cross National Capital Chapter and is matching employee donations up to an additional $2 million. HP gave $300,000 to the Red Cross New York Chapter, the New York Attorney General's Office, the New York Police Department and the city's trauma unit. About 10 percent of HP revenues come from the federal government.

Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., gave $500,000 to the Red Cross National Capital Chapter and $500,000 to the Armed Services YMCA, plus another $5 million to the Red Cross New York Chapter, the YMCA of Greater New York and the City of New York. About 3 percent of Cisco's revenues come from the federal marketplace.

'This generous donation is allowing us to do long-term support,' said S. Frank Gallo, a retired Navy rear admiral and national executive director for the Armed Services YMCA in Washington.

Some of the donated money will go for immediate recovery, some toward scholarships, and a large portion toward reorganizing operations and installing equipment.

Microsoft Corp. donated $10 million to the United Way's Sept. 11 Fund, $5 million of it in technical services including volunteers and software.

The company also has offered to help federal, state and local agencies in software deployment and systems integration.

Microsoft, like HP, is matching employee pledges dollar for dollar. About 10 percent of Microsoft's North American revenues come from the federal government.

Verizon Communications Inc. responded to a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for 40 or 50 phone lines after the attacks.

'We always work closely with FEMA for whatever FEMA needs to do,' Verizon spokesman Mark Marchand said. The carrier transferred old phone numbers to the new lines for affected agencies so citizens wouldn't be confused, he said.

Call on me

Palm Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., gave about 200 Palm VIIx wireless devices to 62 San Francisco Bay area FEMA employees who headed to New York City to help.

Palm's IT department activated all the handheld units, which the FEMA workers used for e-mail and other wireless functions. The extra Palm units were distributed to FEMA workers already at the disaster site.

The California FEMA group was one of 28 groups across the United States called into action last month. Palm is funding their wireless access to palm.net.

GTSI Corp. of Chantilly, Va., offered to accept verbal IT orders from federal agencies by phone.

'They're asking for stuff that can be available quickly,' said Ken Grimsley, a sales vice president. 'We've made a lot of shipments without anything in writing.'

The shipments have included handheld and desktop computers, servers and network equipment.

One of the most popular items, he said, is a high-speed satellite network hookup from Tachyon Inc. of San Diego that can be set up rapidly.

'You can't provision a T1 line in a disaster area,' Grimsley said.

GCN chief technology editor Susan M. Menke and Drew Robb, a free-lance writer in Tujunga, Calif., contributed to this article.

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