NIAGARA CATHOLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT

In choosing NEC LCDs for a new school and overall technology upgrade, this Ontario school district was able to cut down power consumption and heat generation.
 
 
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Quick Facts
  • Facility: Niagara Cathloic School District
  • Location: Ontario, Canada
  • Challenge: Everyday wear and tear, power consumption and total cost of ownership
  • Solution: 21.3" NEC MultiSync LCD2110 15" NEC AccuSync LCD52V17" NEC MultiSync LCD1770NXM and 17" NEC MultiSync LCD1770V17" NEC MultiSync LCD1770NXM and 17" NEC MultiSync LCD1770Vli>
  • Date: October 2005

Confronting issues and variables that most business users would never have to consider, the Niagara Catholic District School Board had to weigh multiple considerations in seeking to upgrade the computer monitors in the offices, school libraries and classrooms of a new school. The lessons the District learned during the selection process led to their conclusion that NEC Display Solutions was the educated choice.

The Niagara Catholic District School Board covers a region in Ontario, Canada, that reaches nearly 1900 square kilometers (more than 720 square miles) in size. The District has 60 elementary and secondary schools, serving almost 25,000 students, and has a staff - including teachers, administrators and support personnel - of about 2200

The Challenge

At the same time the District was seeking to procure equipment for a brand new school, it also wanted to replace and upgrade its monitor technology for offices and library technicians’ and resource teachers’ use at all of its elementary schools. The decision was made to implement LCD technology for its new and replacement monitors to help determine both the reliability of this upgraded technology in a school environment (where vandalism and willful and accidental damage is higher than in a business model) and to test lower power consumption (vs. the previously used CRTs) in a new school setting - with an eye toward estimating the potential savings on an eventual District-wide implementation. “Reliability of the new and replacement monitors was also a factor, considering that our old displays had aged into a troubling and costly 25% failure rate,” said Robin McNaughton, computer services manager for the District.

The Board set up a review committee to evaluate as many as 15 different display vendors, looking at such factors as power consumption, image quality, durability and reliability. These last two factors were especially important in the elementary school workstations, considering the models’ ability to withstand being knocked, bumped and even battered - whether intentionally or not - by a user base of school-age children. The testing and comparison process was overseen by Bernie Golchuk, an electronic repair technician for the District who has more than 40 years of technical experience. He devised a bench test to evaluate multiple monitors at a time, checking refresh rates, color crispness, interference, quality of image and other criteria. An additional durability test came about by accident.

“While working on testing the monitors,” Golchuk said, “I accidentally caught my sweater on one of the monitors, and it tipped right over. I thought, ‘Hey, what happens when a kid swings his backpack around or accidentally bumps a monitor and knocks one over?’ So I devised what we called ‘the tilt test’ to see which models had bases that were too small or were too light and might go over too easily if they were nudged.” Golchuk - aided by the opinions of other technicians and District administrators - ran the various vendors’ models through more than two weeks of usage tests, trying to determine the best mix of durability, reliability and expense to fit the District’s needs. “We wanted to get ‘out of the box, plug and play’ usability, just what the end-user would encounter,” he said. “There had to be no hassles.”

The Solution

Over the course of the District’s extensive evaluation process, Golchuk said, “The NEC models were testing noticeably ahead of all the others - the images were crisp, with the same quality, while many of the other brands had apparently less quality control and showed more variances.”

And the “tilt test” devised to check normal wear and tear by kids? “Most of the models failed in one way or another, but the NEC models could handle being moved or bumped without damage. They swiveled easily to move or turn - it definitely seemed that they were designed to anticipate day-to-day use and to avoid potential problems before they occurred.” Another major plus were the multiple USB ports incorporated right in the monitors, which was “fantastic for plugging cameras and other equipment directly into the displays, without having to access individual computers,” Golchuk said.

Although the NEC Display Solutions models evaluated for the District’s use were not the lowest-priced choices among the products tested, the decision was made to purchase more than 300 17" NEC MultiSync LCD1770NXM units for use in the administrative offices and libraries throughout the school district and nearly 100 17" LCD1770Vs for use at student workstations in the new school. “The history of NEC’s equipment was good, and we knew we would be getting valuable support,” Golchuk said. “We showed the head of purchasing our testing results, and the bottom line was to go with NEC and you won’t have to look back - no second thoughts.”

According to McNaughton, even though they have yet to complete an entire school year with the newly implemented equipment, they have already realized long-term benefits. “Power consumption is lower by more than 50% on the new LCDs compared to our previous monitors. And they generate less heat, which also means savings on cooling costs in our buildings.” The District’s team was also pleased with the environmental advantage of reducing CRTs, which makes sense in terms of recycling and eventual disposal of hazardous materials.

Golchuk added, “The NEC units not only performed best in the test phase, but at this point in time of the implementation, they have also shown that they maintain their quality and perform extremely well in ‘real-life,’ everyday use, eight to nine hours a day. We had a failure rate of less than 1% of the original implementation - we only had problems with two of the models we received…and we received replacements for them right away. I’m very impressed with their overall performance.” He added that an additional endorsement has come from many of the end-users of the NEC Display Solutions monitors: “In fact, many of the daily users of these models - the teachers and school administrators - have said, ‘Wow - these are so good, I want to buy this same model for use at home.’ That really shows me how much they like these monitors.”

 

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