New Look of Mobile Computer Service

by Yeung Man
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The Mobile Computer Service (MCS) is a service provided by the Computing Services Centre (CSC) to allow students to access the campus network and the Internet via the wireless LAN to facilitate their studies. All full-time and part-time students in the main campus are eligible to borrow notebook computers (notebooks) from the MCS Counter for campus use. Students can reserve notebooks online through a web-based Computer Reservation System (CRS), and all loan notebooks must be returned on the same day. The demand for the MCS has been increasing since the service was launched in 2003. In the last academic year, more than 8,000 students used the service.

In view of the popularity of the MCS, starting from Semester A 2005, 300 additional notebooks (with built-in wireless LAN network card) are acquired, and a total of 620 notebooks are provided for student use. In the second week of this semester, we already recorded a daily usage rate of more than 300 during the weekdays. Momentum is bound to build up as more and more students receive their class assignments.

Besides adding more notebooks, we have also studied the needs of students, the mode of operation of the MCS counter, and the Computer Reservation System (CRS) in order to improve our service. The original two half-day loan sessions were merged into one whole-day loan session to provide more flexibility of the loan period to students. Apart from that, a new point system is adopted in the CRS where points are calculated based on the length of the loan period. The new point system encourages students to borrow notebooks on a need basis only and to return their notebook as soon as they have finished using it instead of holding the notebooks. This arrangement will, on the one hand, increase the availability and circulation of notebooks especially during peak periods, and on the other, prevent large number of notebooks from returning to the MCS Counter towards the end of the loan session.

 
Original Scheme
New Scheme
Number of Notebook Computers
320
620
Loan Session
Two half day session
One full day session


P
o
i
n
t


S
y
s
t
e
m*

1. Make a reservation

+1
0

2. Cancel a reservation before loan session starts

0
0

3. Cancel a reservation after loan session starts

+1
Number of hours[1] elapsed after the start of the loan session

4. No show

+2
+12

5. Loan out

+2
0

6. Return by due time

0
Number of loan hours[1]

7. Late return (on the same day)

+2
Number of loan hours[1]

8. Late return (subsequent days)

+3 (plus $100 fine per day)
3 + Number of loan hours[1] (plus $100 fine per day)
Point reset
Points are reset on the first day of each month
Item 1-6 & 7-8 are reset 30 &180 days later respectively
[1] Number of (loan) hours will be truncated to whole integer.

* Students can use the web-based Computer Reservation System (CRS) to make reservation for a notebook. A point system is adopted to calculate the points obtained from each reservation, checkout, cancellation, late return, etc. by students, and three priority classes are set for them according to the points they accumulated.

  • Class A (0 to 48 points) can reserve a notebook 2 days in advance.
  • Class B (49 to 96 points) can reserve a notebook 1 day in advance.
  • Class C (97 points or above) can reserve a notebook on the day only (reservation can only be made before the Counter opens).

In short, the higher the point is, the lower the priority class.

Details of the Mobile Computer Service, including regulations and procedures, notebook configuration and settings, service scheme and user guide, can be found at http://www.cityu.edu.hk/csc/deptweb/services/mcs.htm.