The no-brainer: Save up to 90% of ICT costs

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If state schools and other public sector bodies adopted more Free, Open Source Software and low energy thin-client computing they would:

a) suffer no reduction in their quality of provision and

b) save up to 90% of their total ICT costs.

They could do this without upfront costs if they used the money immediately saved from non-renewal of proprietary licences to fund investment in low energy technology.

This assertion has been made before and details of its components have been explained in previous posts. The money thereby saved UK-wide is in the order of many millions of pounds.

Few dispute this nowadays, even the FUD has all but gone, but who cares anymore?

Let's Go Green

OK, lets switch tack. Do you realise that our computing systems have increased the use of electricity pretty much exponentially during the past twenty five years? Energy is not just cost it's carbon emissions. I may have mentioned this in the past.

Fully one fifth of the public sector energy consumption is now IT-related. Think about the carbon emissions! I did, and somewhere I went to the trouble of doing the calculations and worked out that a secondary school in the UK could close down its ICT and instead fly the whole school to Australia and back every term and emit less carbon.

Isn't carbon isn't cool anymore? Is the 'carbon cake is baked'? Just how does one get any attention in a recession?

Job Losses

There is an answer: jobs.

Jobs are more than statistics they are mortgages, families and livelihoods.

In the UK Secondary Schools for example use about £20k worth of electricity on ICT, spend £12k on software licencing, and print 3,000 sheets of A4 paper per pupil, every year.

Add figures for disposal (£15 per PC) software/upgrade costs (eg. £29,000 for Vista + Office 2007 + hardware compliance), data-projector bulbs (£200 a pop) and so on.

Well, forget these boring figures, as we know Sir Fred's pension should cover the lot easily. Let's think instead of jobs for real people.

The Government's auditor warned the Public Sector very clearly this weekend to expect massive spending cuts in two years time. The point of warning the Public Sector early, as it were, was to avoid a sudden 'slash and burn' response similar to the 1990's where jobs and services were cut savagely.

Take one of the 400 plus UK local authorities with say 5 secondary schools, and 50 primary schools. There are approimately 4,000 secondary schools and 40,000 primary schools nation wide so this is a conservative figure.

Using the above base line, a switch to an Open Source, low-consumption model of computing in education alone would save about 20 jobs per LA and over a thousand nationwide.

It would directly impact on schools and children because it would cover most of the educational psychologists, education welfare officers and school improvement partners that will otherwise get the chop in 2011.

So Public Sector, make the changes now embrace FOSS early, it'll be better than the dole.

BTW, if you still need some more cash for jobs, get the Government to cancel some of those white elephant-database projects.