It’s hard to imagine how we used to get our work done before laptops, Google and the Internet came along. Remember when we used to fax documents, send printed mail or use dial-up to access the Internet? I constantly have to remind myself of this when impatiently waiting for my Blackberry to sync or a rich Internet site to load. As WiMAX becomes more pervasive in Portland, the ability to communicate and quickly access technology on-the-go has improved dramatically. Recently, I learned how WiMAX is helping a local case manager become more efficient at work.Jenna Hilmer is a case manager with Portland-based New Avenues for Youth, an organization offering programs and services for homeless and at-risk youth. She travels throughout the city each day, as part of New Avenues’ Fostering Independence Program. The program serves foster youth who are at a high risk for homelessness, working with the youth to help them define their goals, increase their social capital and ultimately assist them in their transition to live independently. After Intel and Clearwire donated WiMAX-embedded laptops with the Clear service to the organization, Jenna has been able to bring her laptop everywhere, cutting down the time she spent in her car by approximately four hours a week, which gives her more time with her eight clients. Now the 45 hours a month that she spends with clients no longer includes time hunting around for a Wi-Fi hotspot. They can meet wherever is easiest for her clients, including places such as community colleges, coffee shops or even the park (on one of Portland’s rare sunny, dry days). Also, in the last few months, Jenna has noticed that she has not only experienced improved connectivity, but she’s been able to respond to her clients, and other professionals and family members that are part of the client’s wraparound teams ,in an increasingly efficient manner.. Jenna, who hadn’t used WiMAX previously, calls her experience with WiMAX ‘phenomenal’ and says her clients think her new Intel-based laptop ‘looks much better’ too. Next up? Jenna will try WiMAX while riding TriMet.
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