It’s easy to take for granted the widespread availability of high-powered computers in today’s society. However, not every household has the means to invest in a state-of-the-art desktop. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 75 percent of American households had a computer in 2011. That leaves a quarter of the U.S. population without access to net-based tools in their home, significantly impairing their ability to do things as basic as applying for a job or doing homework online.
Until there is a fully functioning computer in every North American household, many community members will continue to rely on the services provided by local public computer labs. Community centers, libraries and other public institutions remain pivotal in bringing computational and network resources to underserved areas. For example, the impoverished citizens of Mississippi’s Madison County have relied on a local organization’s computer lab to learn vital skills for navigating the modern world. Without these services, approximately 3,500 local families would be unable to gain access to computing resources, inhibiting their ability to finish school and find means of employment. Madison Countians Allied Against Poverty offer weekly classes to teach interested individuals how to operate a computer, including laying out the basics for effective network navigation. These services are vital for both adults looking to reenter the workforce and children trying to complete schoolwork and prepare for the digitized future.
Providing shelter to crime-stricken areas
In poverty-stricken areas, public computer labs provide an additional, all-important service beyond offering computing and network resources: providing a safe place for kids to hang out. For children living in neighborhoods with high crime rates, simply walking the streets could put them in the line of fire. A high-quality computer lab such as that offered by the Kansas City Public Library can provide these kids with a safe haven to go to after school away from the violence of the neighborhood.
The downside to a publicly available computer lab is that they are prone to numerous malware breaches and system errors. Community users are unlikely to take proper precautions when using a workstation that is owned by another entity. In addition, they may make changes to the computer’s registry, causing performance issues if not rendering the system unusable entirely. To protect these networked environments from such problems, administrators can employ system restore utilities and provide coverage for each workstation. If one machine becomes infected, the rest can fall victim as well in short order. With system restore and recovery solutions in place, however, computers can be configured to revert back to optimized settings after each session. This way, any traces of malware or disruptive system changes can be alleviated with ease.
Check out some more tips on how you can keep malware off your computers.