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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Four city parks offer free Internet access

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser City Hall Writer

People in four O'ahu neighborhoods can click their way to homework help or surf the Internet by going to centers set up at four city parks yesterday.

Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris first talked about providing free computer access in his last State of the City address in January. Yesterday, he said the entire project is budgeted at $68,000 and can keep costs low because it recycles older computers as the city upgrades its office computers.

The first four district parks to get the new "PCs in the parks" are Kalihi Valley, Kane'ohe, Palolo and Pearl City. Each center has four computers.

The city plans to have a total of 20 recreation centers with computer centers by the end of the year.

"This is a place where, after school, the kids can come and do their homework," Harris said. "Where the parents can come and log on and do their city business, (for example) if they want to register their car."

City information technology director Courtney Harrington said 50 to 100 people renew their registration on-line each week. He expects the number to increase as more people find out about the service.

The computer centers prohibit food, pets, leaving children unattended and looking up pornography or other inappropriate material.

Harrington said the computers have filters to screen out inappropriate sites and users face potential suspension of privileges if they fail to follow the guidelines.

City officials invited some Dole Intermediate students to check out the new computers during a mid-morning news conference yesterday in Kalihi Valley.

But the program ran a bit late for the students, who had skipped recess to attend, and they ended up returning to class and scheduling another visit.

One of the key volunteers is Hawai'i Pacific University student Hsiao Min Pang, who is working toward a master of science degree in information systems.

He and others helped to set up a user guide and plan to work to have volunteers help in the room and sponsor classes, too.

Pang, originally from Malaysia, said the project appealed to him because it involved "creating something out of nothing."

"If we're going to be a center for technological expertise, we've got to start educating our children in technology," Harris said. "We've got to provide them with the tools."

City officials hope to eventually expand the program to these parks: Koko Head, Lanakila, Kalakaua, Halawa, Mililani, Wahiawa, Wai'anae, Kailua, Manoa, Kilauea, Booth, 'Aiea, Salt Lake, Waipahu, Waimanalo and Waialua.