My dad and I are going to Malawi, Africa in two weeks to set a computer lab at an orphanage. This is so the kids and young adults can learn basic computer, typing, and word processing skills. Hopefully this will enable them to have a better skillset and in turn earn better wages. We are setting up 10 computers and two printers. With the dry air, how concerned do we need to be with static in the room. The room will have AC which will keep it cool but will only lower the humidity more. What is the best way to discharge the static.
Put static mats under the work stations. Teach the kids to touch the static pad before they touch the machines. Things like chairs with steel casters and a static treated carpet/floor help. Back in the olden days a computer room floor was conductive and bonded. So were the carpet mats at the consoles. It was high resistance but it was conductive. Machines are getting better with ESD but it still can be a problem if you can't control humidity.
Cheaper may be to use a diluted solution of Downey to apply lightly to the carpet (a spray bottle on mist works, but a hand held, hand pump, pressurized sprayer works best), and to cloth covered seats whenever static raises its ugly head. I rather suspect the following - If the floor is concrete and the chairs wood you should be OK.
One note, I have found lately and that is...all dryer sheets are not created equal. I found one brand that does not stop static no matter what. I think they would cling together if you placed a complete box in the dryer with nothing else, so based on this, be careful in your choice of liquid softeners.
Also teach them to keep the area clean (dusting and sweeping), and to keep the equipment covered when not in use, if this place is more like what I would expect, which may not even have windows if it is rural enough. If the floors are dirt, cleanliness is even more critical, the floor needs to be hard packed. They will need to open things up and blow them out fairly often. Keep chalk boards away (often individual slates used by the children as paper is a premium).
Keyboards and mice are insulated plastic. Static shocks to the grounded PC case can in theory be an issue, but in practice, not really. The biggest danger is static shock while working on components inside the PC- there's no protection there, and as little as a few tenths of a volt can be fatal to a modern microchip. They won't be doing much of that, though, will they?
Just make sure everything is properly and thoroughly grounded and installed robustly enough to take decades of abuse without becoming a safety hazard. Dry sandy soil has terrible conductivity, so you may have to drive supplemental grounding electrodes to get reasonable resistance to ground.
Also, if it really is that dry, you might want to think about installing a swamp cooler instead of an AC unit- would be cheaper to operate and woul humidify the air, too.
Hey Eric, Good on you, mate, great to see someone doing something really worthwhile. I think another thing that needs to be said is, be careful of cheap synthetic carpets, walking across that stuff can generate 10's of thousands of volts, even over a very short distance, regardless of the ambient humidity. Wearing nylon and polyester clothing can have the same effect too.