Automate Innovation Series: Automate Sustainability
Automating aspects of technology management can aid colleges and universities in multiple ways, from increased student and professor satisfaction to reduced energy usage and costs. In addition to these benefits, with its resource management software, Texas A&M University has achieved a reduced IT staff size and more effective troubleshooting. This web seminar, originally broadcast on February 27, 2013, addressed the benefits of resource management software, including those realized through automation.
The Global Education Alliance is a worldwide consortium of higher education administrators and IT users, and has been established for over 20 years. The members of the alliance are taking part in best practices and solutions globally, both at larger state and smaller private institutions. Higher education is facing unique challenges in the IT world, which the program recognizes. Our guest today, Joel Edwards from Texas A&M University, is a member of the alliance. AMX is proud to sponsor this outstanding best practice of automating sustainability. Texas A&M is located in College Station, Texas and is a research-intensive flagship school with more than 50,000 students. Along with their world class research programs, they have a first class faculty, including Joel!
I work with instructional media services, as well as manage the general use rooms on campus. These rooms are not owned by a particular college or department and can be scheduled for use by any type of class. I maintain and manage the AV and computer equipment in these rooms. We currently have 160 of these rooms spread out between 30 buildings.
Seven years ago, we had a pretty basic set-up; projectors were hooked up to a PC or VCR. Resource management was done manually. Student workers would come in and turn equipment on and off, as well as troubleshoot issues during the day. At this time, we talked to our distance learning department and learned they were working with AMX. We began installing AMX equipment, and now 98 percent of our rooms are automated.
Seven years ago, we were responsible for 90 rooms with 85 student workers to help out. Now, we are responsible for 160 rooms and only employ 45 students. Automation has allowed us to save money on payroll and put money towards quicker upgrades in our rooms. We would get verbal feedback from students and professors about technology use in each room, but we really wanted to know exactly how much each device was being used and in what way. With accurate data, we could improve services by removing less frequently used equipment, and know what equipment we needed to add to future rooms.
With AMX, it’s great that we get that type of data through the DVX-3155 hardware and our resource management suite (RMS) software. The DVX-3155 is the central controller we use in most of our rooms. We love its compact form. Prior to using it, we had been using six or seven devices to get the same level of control. It has allowed us to decrease the size of our lecterns, which is great in smaller rooms. Occasionally, professors request older analog devices like VCRs. The DVX-3155 will run an analog right along with its other signals with no issues. The number of inputs it has makes it very flexible. It can handle complex or simple setups.
But, the biggest thing we love about it is that it is controllable via RMS. The RMS has made managing our rooms so much simpler. We have access to real-time lamp hours, real-time problem reporting, notifications, and more. We can be proactive in addressing problems. The source usage it provides is great. You can see what devices are being used and for how long each day. At the end of the semester or year, I can pull reports from the RMS and use them to justify funding for these rooms, or take pieces out that aren’t being used. That hard data are great for informing our decisions. We are able to control all our rooms from our offices and do remote troubleshooting if an instructor calls with a problem. Most issues can be fixed over the phone, from just turning a projector on to switching sources.
It is great not to have to send out a student worker, which is what has allowed us to not have to hire as many students. We also can do auto shut-down with projectors to save bulb life. We don’t have to change expensive bulbs as often or devote our workers’ time to making sure that each machine is off. Our newest project is the liberal arts building, which was just constructed. We wanted each room to look and feel the same, with the same presentation equipment in each room. Once the AMX touch screens were installed, we also wanted to make sure adequate training was done for the instructors who would be in that building.
My team and the departments that occupy the building are all on the same page when it comes to troubleshooting problems. All rooms are hooked up to the RMS, making sure the new building is as energy efficient as possible. We hope all future buildings are as efficient and standardized as this one.
Joel gave some great examples of how Texas A&M was able to make a sustainable automated campus. RMS can automate sustainability by monitoring, managing, and scheduling through systemwide devices. By monitoring these devices, you can find out everything that is going on in your building. You will know if devices are overheating or need preventive maintenance. As these are being monitored, RMS can take action by shutting things down or sending notifications. Being sustainable means you are saving energy and extending the usual life of technology, both of which RMS facilitates. Can you imagine putting eight or more devices in a class when you can instead have a simple, flexible, comprehensive, three-rack unit all in one box?
Our DVX series incorporates many AMX technologies, including smart scale, which ensures signal output is scaled to every display’s native resolution. The DVX-3155 is a real game-changing device that standardizes everything to one box and reduces the total cost of ownership. We are also really excited about our new AMX Rapid Project Maker, a cloud-based tool that automates a classroom in less than an hour. Accessible from any location, this application helps you design, configure, and employ an AMX system using a wizard-based step-by-step approach, with no code-writing needed. Multiple people can collaborate on multiple projects.
RMS can be easily integrated, and the tool supports up to 28 device types.
Deluna: One thing we’re seeing on campuses is the common theme of creating these cost effective learning environments that are future proof and sustainable and provide a return on investment. When you automate sustainability, you get more than efficiency and convenience. It will generate significant savings. One great thing about being part of the Global Education Alliance is the 80 percent RMS savings that education institutions get. Being part of the Alliance is free; you do not need to be an AMX customer. Another benefit to being a part of the Alliance is the ability to enter the AMX Innovation Awards at UBTech. The Innovation Awards spotlight the best in the world in the categories of automation and control initiatives, collaboration initiatives, sustainability initiatives, and international initiatives. To get more information, I encourage you to email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety please go to http://www.universitybusiness.com/ws022713