Does your church offer public computer access?
No, I’m not talking about free access to the church’s wifi network for anyone with a mobile computing device on them. I’m talking about a public computer for those that don’t have such technology at home.
Traditionally, this has been a touchy area for churches. Having a public computer available for anyone to use presents a multitude of issues: access to pornography, malicious intent, and the vulnerability of viruses.
Well, Thursday HP announced a new line of computers designed specifically for this use: the 1912nm Internet Monitor:
1922nm Internet Monitor
According to the press release, this new offering is,
“ideal for customer-facing environments, the HP Passport 1912nm Internet Monitor provides a visitor hub for internet access in lobbies, hotels, waiting rooms, airports and other business environments through an easy web interface with a locked-down operating system that prevents vulnerability to viruses.”
Basically, it is a simple computer running an undisclosed version of Linux with a slimmed-down Firefox browser. There is no ability to install any programs on the computer – either by the end-user or the administrator. While this would be too limiting for anyone needing to do significant office work on it, it’s perfect for the casual user needing to check email or create a word-processing document using Google Docs. And at an attractive price-tag of $250, it’s perfect for churches on a small budget.
HP is hoping to sell these Internet Monitors to hotels and related businesses. However, churches could also benefit from them. Certainly it doesn’t address the issues of pornography or malicious intent – a clear policy and some type of monitoring are still needed for that – but the inability to install virus-laden programs is a huge plus.
Also, with the rise in popularity of web-based apps, a computer like this becomes much more appealing than it could have been just a few years ago. If your church uses web-based registrations, this would be the perfect companion for your Sunday-morning crowd. Imagine telling people “We have a new small group forming next month, so sign up on our website or on the computer in the Narthex after church. ”One of our hospitality members will be waiting by to help you out.” All of a sudden, your non-tech-savy crowd can get behind web-based registrations!
What other uses can you think of for something like this?
Does your church already have a publicly available computer?
If not, would the HP Internet Monitor change your mind?