June 18, 2009 By Elaine Rundle
Orlando, Fla., completed a technology refresh that involved updating all of its approximately 3,000 computers -- including laptops and PCs -- with new, energy-efficient devices.
The process began more than two years ago, and one-third of the computers were replaced at a time. According to Conrad Cross, CIO of Orlando, the initiative's main driver was to update the technology for city employees and in the process, he realized the opportunity could also be used to green the computers by increasing their energy efficiency.
Cross said all of the new computers are in use except about 200 laptops that were purchased for use in police vehicles. The city has procured the laptops and is in the process of adding them to the remaining vehicles.
Cross said the city doesn't have a good measure on how much energy the new computers are saving because it wasn't measuring the energy computers consumed until about a year ago. "I would say there has definitely been significant energy savings, but I'm not prepared at this moment to give a tentative number," he said.
Orlando spent about $3 million on the computer replacement program and worked with CDW-G to examine energy-efficient hardware. Cross said when the technology refresh began, the city wasn't examining how much energy computers used and CDW-G helped to update the computers with more efficient power supplies. The vendor then advised Orlando on what hardware, like monitors, were most efficient and provided training on the new devices.
The new computers can be remotely monitored to ensure energy savings across the city, Cross said. He said there are different policies in place for different departments because their requirements for turning off monitors or putting computers into sleep mode differ. For example, police dispatchers may not be using their keyboards but are watching information on the monitor so their screens will not be remotely turned off. However, in the accounting department if a computer is idle after a couple of hours, the machine may be powered down to hibernate mode.
Going forward, Orlando's purchasing agents are looking for devices that are Energy Star approved, which means the technology fits requirements from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Cross' advice for other local governments that are preparing to start environmentally friendly initiatives is: "Start thinking green." Orlando educates city workers to turn off the lights or computers when not in use, and it also tracks what's printed and utilizes duplex printing to save paper.
"It's an awareness thing more than anything else," he said.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.