Upgrades to our AP&C Channel

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Prometric invests significant time, money and energy making improvements to our global test center network. In 2010 we made a number of improvements to our test center network and we wanted to outline some of those for you here. This article is about improvements and investments made to our Academic, Professional and Corporate (AP&C) (non-IT) network. (For improvements coming to our IT channel, please read the next article in this newsletter, “Upgrades Coming to Our IT Channel.”)

Project Description
Workstation Upgrade We started the year by upgrading any test center workstations (globally) that were less than a specified processing speed. This provided a newer and faster computer that created a new baseline where every workstation in the global AP&C Channel is equal to or greater than a pre-determined faster processing speed. This allows our clients to take advantage of the higher processing speed to implement new test item features that better assess their candidates.
Cache Proxy Upgrade We’ve replaced the existing proxy servers in all AP&C testing centers with new computers that are better equipped to handle additional load. In all, approximately 600 cache proxies were upgraded globally. Doing this will enable the next generation of software designed to support the GRE-R exams.
Backup Workstations The cache proxy upgrade provided an opportunity for us to re-use the replaced cache proxy computers as a “back-up” workstation. We retained all of the old cache proxies in all the testing centers so that in the event a workstation breaks down for any reason, the Global Help Desk is made aware of a quick replacement. This saves time in getting the workstation back into operation and the candidate testing as soon as possible.
Re-Imaging Workstations When a workstation breaks it is sometimes because the software on the workstation becomes corrupt. In late 2009 and early 2010 we distributed DVD images, of workstation software, to all the AP&C testing centers. In the event a workstation becomes inoperable because of software issues, the DVD is used to rebuild the workstation, making it ready for same day or next morning use.
Event Testing Upgrade Prometric sometimes uses, in order to test candidates in hard to reach locations, Event Testing Kits. They are essentially “portable workstations” that our event testing team travels with and sets up for special “one-time” type testing events. Over time, the surveillance equipment used as part of the kits proved to be vulnerable to travel. For example, cameras and DVRs were not necessarily designed to be connected/unconnected or bounced around in cases, etc. To ensure reliability and dependability in surveillance gathering, we implemented a change to the camcorders used in our event testing kits, and in turn – completely eliminated any “downtime” for surveillance for event testing in 2010.
DVR Upgrade Over 136 full service AP&C testing centers globally were upgraded to DVR surveillance systems in 2010. This project added to the total number of centers now equipped with DVRs for enhanced security at the centers.
Test Center Refresh Each year Channel identifies a number of testing centers that are in need of refreshing; this can be new chairs, furniture, carpeting, painting, etc. This year Prometric refreshed 37 testing centers resulting in cleaner, more comfortable and newer looking centers for our candidates, contributing to a successful testing experience.
Preparing for 2011 and beyond…
Workstation/Admin Upgrade In 2010 Prometric invested in almost 4,000 thousand new computers globally. These computers will replace any workstation or Admin station that is more than 4 years old. The upgrade began in December 2010 and kicked into high-gear in January 2011. This is a major upgrade that will replace approximately half of all workstations in Prometric AP&C centers globally. Roll out will be conducted to minimize candidate displacement top of mind, and with a target to complete the upgrade in 2011. This improvement will further reduce the total number of workstation issues by at least 25% — providing more uptime for your candidates.