SimDesk Technologies Sets Its Sights on Eliminating the Digital Divide

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Q&A With SimDesk COO Louis A. Waters

The startup company SimDesk Technologies Inc. (www.simdesk.com) has some major corporations worrying. This is because SimDesk has figured out how to add the notion of any computer to the convenience of anytime, anywhere computing. The SimDesk software suite offers individuals the use of word processing, e-mail and other programs with the added ability to store their information on the company’s servers. This means that SimDesk clients can access their applications and personal files from any computer with an Internet connection. Moreover, costing just a few dollars per person per year, SimDesk offers cash-strapped schools and universities an affordable way to provide technology access to all students. Recently, Indiana realized SimDesk’s potential and purchased licenses to provide the software to its 6 million residents. T.H.E. Journal spoke with Louis A. Waters, COO of SimDesk Technologies, about the software’s impact on and possibilities in education.

T.H.E. : How can Sim–Desk help the education market?

Louis Waters: SimDesk Technologies is the first technology company that is fully focused on eliminating the digital divide. There is a mountain of documented evidence which proves that access to technology improves a child’s education. From reading-comprehension skills to average wages when exiting college, students who are comfortable with computers are given better chances and better results. Our flagship product, SimDesk, eliminates barriers that today’s companies - with their complex licensing schemes and closed systems - have created and maintain at the expense of a large part of the U.S. and worldwide populations.

T.H.E.: How can schools and districts utilize SimDesk?

Waters: SimDesk is licensed as a community license so that every person ... can access a full suite of software and services that have world-class capabilities. SimDesk works equally well on public-access PCs as on personal PCs. This allows students who are dependent on the public system to experience the same benefits as those fortunate enough to have a computer at home.

T.H.E.: What d'es SimDesk offer that other software cannot?

Waters: SimDesk gives personal, secure storage, communication and collaboration services to all students. Every person has his or her own Internet-based account - a digital backpack - which allows access quickly, privately and easily from any PC. A student can sit down at a different computer every day yet have complete continuity ... [thereby eliminating] one of the biggest barriers to a child’s early interest in technology.

T.H.E.: What solutions do you think will be available in the future to help all educational institutions best use the technological advances out there?

Waters: We have a set of programming tools that allow SimDesk to be quickly and easily integrated into existing school portals. We are also working on tools that will allow the integration of open-source applications into the SimDesk system.

T.H.E.: How d'es SimDesk handle the competition with larger corporations that offer similar software programs?

Waters: SimDesk changes the game in a fundamental way. We are providing the entire system, including the client software, the server system, the data center and everything in between, for a single community license price. We can do something that has never before been possible: one-to-one services for entire populations. And this means that no one is able to compete with us on our ground.

T.H.E.: Tell us anything else about SimDesk that is important to the education community.

Waters: SimDesk never forces the user to make a choice when it comes to his/her desktop. If one wants to use an alternative office suite, we support it. If one wants to switch back and forth between Windows and Linux, we support both. We feel that no one should be forced to make a choice by a closed or locked system. The technology market is opening up like never before, and individuals should be free to explore and find what fits them best.

- Annamaria DiGiorgio

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.

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