Friday, 20 March 2015

Total Eclipse of the Heart

We here in eReco land are very proud to be associated with the Eco Schools programme as their IT recycling partner. We have a passion for data security and sustainability, and as parents we certainly believe that our kids need to learn some harsh lessons about both topics.

Of course there is a commercial edge to our partnership. We really do love what we do but we don’t necessarily do it for love. Mainly because HSBC have yet to start accepting hugs as hard currency! But the truth is we care about our school communities. That is why we have written a white paper, a guide to IT recycling for schools, which you can download here Schools White Paper to try and distil the issues involved in IT asset disposal in a few un-technical pages.

Please take a look and please give us your feedback. The problem we face in talking to schools is that they like to be green AND charitable, and being non-commercial do not always appreciate the risks involved. They do not like being ‘sold to’ and they want to do the right thing...they have just not been told what the right thing really is. So our white paper is an attempt to help them see the wood for some not inconsiderable trees.

This morning...shortly after posting this blog...we will all be trying to see a partial eclipse of the sun. I don’t think we will see much in gloomy West Sussex as it happens but we are British, so we will troop out into the car park and try. But thinking about the eclipse made me think about Bonnie Tyler’s famous hit, written by Jim Steinman of Meatloaf fame. With teachers we really are trying to get them to think with their head’s, not their hearts, and in the education sector, where passion and vocation are rightly valued, that is not always easy to do.

On the face of it, donating old equipment to charity is a good thing. A good job done Headmistress if I may say so, collected for free and off to Africa. Might even make a nice little story in the newsletter don’t you think? And I am not being facetious here, I have had this conversation with dozens of schools and even one Local Education Authority. When I tell them what they have done they are horrified, often at least initially disbelieving and perhaps even a little scared.

So, hearts back in your bags please, if I see another one before the bell you will all be in detention for a month. Heads on and concentrate. In my opinion, any second hand computer equipment sent out to Africa is an abomination. Why? Well for a start, according to the Oxfam advert I saw on the TV several times last night kids are dying in the Sudan. They need clean water not Angry Birds. And secondly the old kit will eventually end up in landfill. So we are just exporting our past mistakes all over again. Either sustainability means something or it doesn’t. Make up your minds.

Thus even perfectly legitimate charity’s who do things properly are wrong. The charlatans and the crooks at least aren’t kidding themselves that they are doing nice things. Therefore, if you have your head on straight, donating equipment to anyone who intends to export it out of a WEEE regulated zone should be a HUGE no no. Turn around bright eyes and look at the flipping light.

And then there is the data aspect of things. Anyone who has read my blogs before will know that far too many people are blasé about data security. In business, I sort of get that. Here at ACME Widgets Limited, my database of merry widget consumers does not seem THAT important. I can understand how people can think that no master criminal is going to want their data, and that no one would notice if they did. But these are schools.

The data they are being blasé about is our bank details, our kid’s medical records, our confidential information. It is not exactly fair, but because it is schools data it makes it worse. Genghis Khan, our beloved ICO, would jump on even the slightest hint of a breach from the greatest of heights. Heads would roll at the Ministry.

So our little white paper is a humble attempt to educate. I know it’s not much but it is a start and I would appreciate any feedback you have, and any help you can give us to promote it to a wider audience. Meanwhile, back to Bonnie...

'And we'll only be making it right
'Cause we'll never be wrong together
We can take it to the end of the line
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time (all of the time)
I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark
We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
I really need you tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight'