Green IT goes gold
As cities and counties work to reduce their energy costs and meet community sustainability goals, many are finding technology tools that help generate successful results. The following five cities and counties were recognized this year by the Washington-based Public Technology Institute (PTI) for their application or deployment of technology to support “green” initiatives.
Winners received their awards at the 2010 PTI Technology Solutions and Innovations Conference, which was held March 24-25 in Washington. Awards were presented in several population groups and in other categories besides sustainability, including public safety technology, geospatial information systems, telecommunications and IT, and web and e-government services.
View the complete list of winners and project summaries on PTI’s Web site.
Santa Monica, Calif.
PC Power Management
Population category: 1 – 99,999
Santa Monica has installed a central network-based PC Power Management System that monitors activity on every PC in the network. After a predetermined period of inactivity on an individual workstation, the system commands the workstation to switch into standby mode.
Since launching the program, Santa Monica has measured a decrease in power consumption of 11.3 kilowatt hours (kWh) per computer per month. Multiplied across all 1,400 workstations, that is an annual decrease of 190,456 kWh.
“Through our PC Power Management Program, Santa Monica has realized a 30.8 percent drop in power consumption, a calculated annual savings of $28,568.39, and 137,890 fewer calculated pounds of greenhouse gases produced each year.”
— Jory Wolf, chief information officer
Washtenaw County, Mich.
Healthy Home Portal
Population category: 100,000 – 349,999
The Washtenaw County Health Home Portal is a conglomeration of online services and information related to environmental issues around the home. Each portal link points to a second webpage, which aggregates information around a particular topic. The second pages pull together information that previously were scattered across several other departmental sites. The Healthy Home Portal has been integrated into the marketing messages of all participating departments, making it easy for residents to find other services that may be of interest. The idea has proven so effective that it has inspired several similar portals on the county website.
“The project is significant because it provides homeowners quick, easy and intuitive access to a wide range of information regarding environmental issues around their home. It helps customers find all of the different services Washtenaw County provides related to home ownership, even if they aren’t familiar with all of our different departments.”
— Andy Brush, webmaster
The BIG Map
Population category: 100,000 – 349,999
The Scottsdale BIG Map integrates nine geographically based systems into one. Users can search by address or intersection and view information about a single parcel or all the parcels displayed on the map. They can find plans, permits, right-of-way permits from 1989 to present, public hearing cases since Scottsdale was established in 1951, business licenses and development agreements. The application also helps staff find information even in cases where parcel numbers have changed. The program stores and allows users to retrieve geographical information and documents that used to be available only on microfilm.
“Big Map allows city staff to query information previously housed in nine disparate systems through one easy-to-use interface. With more than 20 percent of Scottsdale’s workforce eligible for retirement in the next five years, Big Map will help the city address the significant loss of institutional knowledge.”
— Brad Hartig, chief information officer
PC Power Management
Population category: 350,000 – 749,999
To reduce power use of Mesa’s IT assets, the city developed its own PC power management system and audited its data center, making simple alterations to reduce its power consumption with minimal capital investment. The city’s IT Department developed its own electronic scripting capability to turn off the 3,500 employees’ PCs when they are not in use. In the first rollout day, 1,089 PCs were turned off at night, resulting in a 30 percent energy use reduction. Understanding the need for remote access, working late or concerns about open files or documents, the program has ensured that work will not be lost when PCs are turned off automatically, and employees can remotely turn their PCs back on. Those who are working when the power down begins are offered the chance to keep their machines on.
In the data center, city staff sealed air leaks in the walls, ceiling and floors, and raised air temperature on the air handlers to 72 Fahrenheit to lower the humidity levels in the room and reduce the compressor’s operating hours. All unused cables and equipment were removed from the room, which helped reduce power and cooling needs. Simple adhesive temperature strips on the equipment enclosures help identify hot spots in the room, and two spot recorders were borrowed to record temperature and humidity levels in different locations in the room.
“We have found that in-house expertise and creativity can go a long way toward proving the case of potential energy savings. Expanding our use of in-house scripting efforts allowed us to demonstrate the potential savings of PC power management without purchasing costly software. Creative use of multiple measures in our aging data center resulted in a 30 percent savings — imagine the potential when funds are applied to these efforts!”
— Angie Earl, IT service leader
Enterprise Asset Management
Population category: 750,000+
Several years ago, San Diego developed an enterprise asset management (EAM) system that has improved its ability to account for and maintain its infrastructure. Known as Project Synergy, the system integrates SAP’s enterprise resource planning system with Redlands, Calif.-based ESRI’s geographic information system. Most recently, Project Synergy’s first major enhancement was online customer service, which gives residents another means to submit repair requests. The system was further enhanced with the addition of GPS devices in street sweepers. Today, with implementation of field computers, mobile infrastructure module and GIS mobile software, the city can complete management activities from the field. San Diego’s EAM system has returned significant dividends through increased efficiency, streamlined processes, and improved customer service and responsiveness.
“San Diego’s Enterprise Asset Management system has streamlined maintenance efforts, improved customer service and has allowed the city to efficiently integrate multi-layered data sets into its broader Enterprise Resource Planning system.”
— Elizabeth Mueller, San Diego Public Works EAM program manager