Joining the Current Network

What is the Current network?

As part of the Current, we would like you to join our research to help us with two things:

  1. Let us monitor when your PC is on, off or idle so that we can get a better picture of IT energy consumption across campus
  2. Test out some tools we’ve developed to help you manage energy more effectively on your PC

How does the monitoring programme work?

With your permission, we can remotely install a tiny piece of Workstation Management Software on your machine which will log when your computer is on, off or idle. We’ll then be able to give you some feedback on the ways in which your computer is using energy. Once you’ve had this feedback, we’ll enable some tools that you can use to help you sleep your PC automatically when you aren’t using it.

FAQs

Q: Will the Workstation Management Software interfere with the running of my computer?
No. This is a tiny piece of software that ISS have developed for us and we can install it remotely once you give us permission to do so. You won’t notice any change in the way your computer runs – the only difference may be that you might notice a screensaver becoming active during idle periods if you don’t already have one installed.

Q: What exactly does the software monitor?
The Workstation Management Software can’t measure the power consumption of your computer directly (we’d need to plug it into a physical energy monitoring device to do that). Instead, it does the next best thing, which is to record three things:

Having this information can help us start to identify ways in which we can save energy when using our computers. For example, a first step would be to make sure that computers are off, asleep or hibernating during times when they’re not being used.

Q: Who has access to this data from my computer?
The data that the software collects about your computer will be stored in a secure database and can only be seen by our project team and our colleagues in ISS who have developed the software for us. After a short baseline monitoring period (which we’ll use to establish what’s a ‘normal’ power routine for you and your computer), we’ll turn on the feedback element of the software so that you’ll be able to see this information for your own computer too. We’ll also offer you some tools to help you reduce your computer’s energy consumption, if you wish to do so. We will be writing up the results of the research for the university and wider audiences of stakeholders and academics but you will be completely anonymous in these reports.

Q: What feedback can the Workstation Management Software give me?
You won’t get any feedback when you first receive the software as, for the first phase of the research, we just need to record the amount of energy that your computer is currently using. However, once the software has been in place for a while, we’ll ask it to give you some information on the amount of time that your computer spends on, off or idle.

Q: How do the energy management tools work?
This is something we’d like you to try after the monitoring element of the research has been in place for a while. There are two tools – one involves using the in-built power management features in Windows while the other one uses an extension of the Workstation Management Software that you’ll have been using for the monitoring. Which one you use will depend on your computer and your own preferences. However, both allow you to choose your own settings so that you can set your PC to sleep automatically when it’s not in use, if you would like it to do this. We will send you more information about both tools nearer the time but, in the meantime, if you would like to know more, please get in contact with us.

Q: Do I get to choose which tool I use?
If you have a desktop, you will be able to choose between the Windows tool and the ISS Workstation Management tool by selecting your preferences on the consent form. If you have a laptop, you will only be able to use the Windows tool as this is better suited to the kind of varied working environments that laptops are used in.

Q: I'm happy with how my computer manages power at the moment – can't I just stick with that?
Yes, of course. If you’re happy with what your computer does at the moment just make sure you select ‘I would prefer to stick with Windows Power Management’ on the consent form. That way, you can still take part in the monitoring but without having to change your settings at a later date.

Q: Is this going to take up much of my time?
No. Both tools are automated so you simply choose your settings once and then work as normal.

Q: What if I don’t want to be part of the monitoring programme or I change my mind after I’ve signed up?
No problem. Simply email Paul Alcock on p.alcock@lancaster.ac.uk and ask to unsubscribe from the Workstation Management Software programme. You can still take part in other activities as part of Current if you wish to do so.