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Council worker develops PC energy-saving program

Could save £40,000 per year

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

A county council could slash its annual energy bill by £40,000, thanks to a computer program developed by one of its staff.

Peter Kear, an IT support team leader for Staffordshire County Council, has invented a patch management program that automatically scans the authority's 7,500 computers and switches off those that have been left on overnight.

A major difference to many other systems is that the program closes down computers completely rather than just leaving them in hibernation mode, said a council spokesperson. The system kicks in at 8pm every night and switches off at 8am the following morning.

Kear said: "We already have software that scans every county council computer when they are switched off to ensure they have the latest anti-virus protection installed. This technology already realises whether a PC is on or off, so it was then a matter of writing a program that went a step further and switched off machines that didn't need to be on during the night."

The program should be installed across the county by September and estimates suggest that it could save around 40,000 each year. The council also believes that other authorities and industry could adapt the program to create further savings.

The council spokesperson told GC News: "The system also runs an exclusion list, so if someone is working late or there is a service that needs to stay up and running, we can add those PC IP addresses to the exclusion list and they won't be closed down. Similarly, the system ignores people working at home on a connection."

Mick Clarke, the county council's cabinet member for organisation and performance said: "The authority is Staffordshire's largest user of computers and this ingenious software is simple and effective way of cutting our carbon footprint and saving cash."

But he added: "We are constantly looking for ways to save energy and this includes educating staff to be as energy-efficient as possible. Peter's programme is undoubtedly a great help, but it is no substitute for switching off computers when they are not in use."

To help improve awareness and compliance, the council is running a big internal communication campaign to encourage people to turn off their PCs when they leave the office.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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