Fifth Ward Technology Project Connects Community

A new website is serving as a public safety and economic resource in the Fifth Ward. Residents can now use technology to improve their neighborhood.

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An internet portal is a website that allows users to retrieve and store data and share information. The 5th Ward portal was launched this week to connect residents in the area to various resources. Michael Brekenridge is the portal project manager for the 5th Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation. He says the 5th Ward is underserved when it comes to computer literacy, so this portal is one more way to help residents keep in step with emerging technology.

The portal also includes a business directory, a job bank and community events. The 5th Ward is considered the lowest income neighborhood in Houston and many residents of the area don't have access to computers. Kathy Flanagan-Payton is the president of the 5th Ward CRC. She says a $3 million dollar grant from Hewlett-Packard has funded several computer centers for the community.

And that access to the community is what makes one aspect of the portal so important. The website employs special technology that allows emergency first responders to directly alert residents to problems or safety issues in the area. Using a database of email addresses, phone and pager numbers, the system can initiate an automated alert system so elderly shut-ins can receive a phone call like this one.

The alerts can be sent for everything from street closures, to chemical hazards or terror threats.

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