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Council employs automatic PC shutdown

Will save £50,000 a year

Application security programs and practises

A council is expecting to save money and reduce carbon emissions after installing software that closes down PCs left on overnight.

Peterborough City Council has deployed software to automatically turn off computers left on during evenings and weekends.

The council predicts it will save £50,000 a year and cut annual CO2 emissions by one tonne, while the project has also delivered a return on investment in less than three months since it was deployed in April 2007.

Called NightWatchman, the software from 1E enables the authority to ensure that any computer within its 2,500 stock that does not need to be kept on at night is switched off. It had calculated that 30 per cent of its PCs were being left switched on during evenings and weekends, costing the council up to £60 per machine per year.

Security and building management systems that run via computers are not affected by the automatic shutdown, as these have to run 24 hours a day.

Servers and desktops technical manager Mark Gregson told GC News on 9 August 2007: "You can put an exclusion list in, assuming you know the IP address or MAC address, and you can actually stop those machines from shutting down."

If individuals have a script or a job that has to run late, the system can add those machines to the exclusion list to ensure they are not switched off. The system only applies to network attached machines, so home workers connected via a broadband link are not affected by the automatic shutdown.

The software also checks that work is saved before shutting computers down. Gregson explained that if it finds any unsaved work, it saves a copy onto the c-drive. When users come in the next day and turn on their computer, a dialogue box pops up to tell them where their saved files are located.

Commenting on the project, Nigel Green, head of ICT at the council, said: "I'm delighted with the results of this project. We set out to achieve a return on investment in six months, but actually achieved this target in less than three months.

"When combined with carbon emission savings and better delivery to our in-house customers, this has proven to be one of our best ever investment decisions."

The software sits on a central computer, and the system runs via user application servers, so that other council sites can benefit from the shutdown facility.

Councillor Stephen Goldspink, cabinet member for efficiency and business improvement, added: "By purchasing software which will ensure equipment that doesn't need to remain on is switched off at night we will save on our energy bills and prolong the life of the equipment."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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