The iPads Are Out

Originally appeared on in the byte on May 5, 2020 | I can’t link to the original because, well DOE security rules. Sad, I know. Just imagine it being in a fun layout in your inbox.

The byte
In just six weeks, the DOE has received, configured, and delivered 257,371 of 300,000 iPads to students across the city for remote learning.

Exsqueeze me?
257,371 iPads—all asset tagged, configured, and internet-enabled—were delivered to students in all five boroughs in only six weeks. This includes delivering to students in shelters and foster care.

That’s, like, a super big deal.
Yah. For perspective, in pre-COVID life, it would probably have taken six months to a year to do something like this. Also, according to our vendors involved in the effort, this was the fastest device rollout in the history of device rollouts.

And who made this happen?
It was a monumental effort that required everyone involved to work long days, late nights, and weekends, and forgo a shower or two. The effort was driven by Anuraag and Lauren Siciliano, but many, many folks across the DOE rolled up their sleeves and got down in the trenches with us:

*All offices and teams that are not DIIT are indicated in parentheses.

  • Strategy and project management: Office of the First Deputy Chancellor (DOE); Information Technology Solutions and Delivery; and DoITT (citywide).
  • Procuring the iPads: Office of Management and Budget (citywide); and Division of Contracts and Purchasing (DOE).
  • Collecting iPad requests from families: Information Technology, Solutions and Delivery
  • Data management: Research & Policy Support Group (DOE)
  • Staging and configuring the iPads: CTO office; and 15 external vendors
  • Getting the iPads in the hands of students: CTO office; Office of Safety and Youth Development (DOE); Students in Temporary Housing (DOE); Office of Charter Schools (DOE); and Office of Non-Public Schools (DOE)
  • Learning Portal creation: CTO office
  • Enabling G Suite for Education: Ed Tech; DigiComm; and CTO
  • Technical support: The Service Desk; and the entire user support team
  • Making sure everything we are doing is legit: Legal (DOE)
  • Communications: CTO office; DigiComm; Information Technology Solutions and Delivery, Translation and Interpretation (DOE); Press and Media Relations (DOE), and OFDC (DOE)

Now that’s cross-functional.
Yes, it is. “I am deeply impressed by the hard work and collaboration everyone has put into this monumental effort,” said Anuraag Sharma, our CIO, about the effort. “No agency has done something like this, at this scale, ever. It was frustrating at times, but no one ever said, ‘no, that’s not my job.’ Everyone pitched in and gave 110 percent, and demonstrated their skills and talents to the highest degree. These people deserve to be recognized and commended. Thank you so much, everyone.”

What about the remaining 42,629 iPads?
Some deliveries have been held up for a variety of reasons, including invalid data entered on the request form or recipients not being home at the time of delivery. But rest assured that the team is working hard to complete every single delivery. Also, the DOE has not received 300,000 requests yet, so the team is looking for more recipients.

And didn’t DIIT stand up distribution sites this week, to reach even more students?
Yes, we did–one in all five boroughs. The sites were staffed by DIIT volunteers, all of whom received safety training, masks, gloves, and Lysol wipes. Jane Pook, head of digital communications, and a member of the DIIT senior leadership team, said, “Thank you to everyone who volunteered, and put themselves on the front line in order to help students and families get these much-needed devices for remote learning. Your selflessness is commendable and deeply appreciated.”

Did anyone take photos at the distribution sites?
Yep, and the byte is sharing them here for you:

[Photos redacted]