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Departmental ICT

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Northavon of 28 February 2008, Official Report, column 1855W, on departmental ICT, what estimate his Department has made of (a) the projected cost of installing and implementing and (b) the likely annual saving in energy costs from (i) VISTA's in-built group policy options to enforce a default switch to the VISTA sleep mode after a pre-set elapsed time of inactivity and (ii) the Nightwatchman technology. (200045)

[holding answer 21 April 2008]: Further to our response to the hon. Member for Northavon (Steve Webb) of 28 February 2008, detailed in Official Report, column 1855W, on departmental ICT, we are now engaged in preparations to roll-out laptop VISTA devices with global pre-set power management settings.

The installation and implementation of VISTA's power management tools are covered within the IT refresh that is currently being undertaken by IBM. Expenditure for the refresh is covered within the annual service charge paid to IBM, DEFRA’s strategic IT partner. As such VISTA’s power management tools are freely available for us to use and no significant extra expense has been incurred in using them to set up power management regimes across the Department.

The power management settings will switch the laptops to ‘hibernate’ after a pre-defined period, in which mode the current desktop is copied to disk and deleted from memory. This mode draws no current, effectively switching off the PC, compared with ‘sleep’ mode that draws current to maintain the in-use desktop in memory.

We are also ensuring in the same VISTA settings that monitors are similarly switched back to their standby power saving mode. In parallel we are increasing ad hoc inspections by our security guards who will be labelling devices found left switched on.

A recent security guard survey indicated some 600 devices were left switched on across the main buildings on the London estate. Assuming these would all be desktops with flat screen monitors in idle mode (we do not allow active screensavers) with a combined power consumption of 53w (determined from recent power monitoring exercise) and that these devices were all left on every night and every weekend throughout the year, we are wasting some 200MwH per annum. Assuming 0.09p per KwH equates to a potential saving of nearly £20,000.

As stated in the previous response, we are taking no further action in the implementation of Nightwatchman or any other power management software until we have assessed the outcome of our VISTA rollout and the savings that the power management settings bring on energy consumed by the Department’s main offices.