When thinking about data, analytics, and other IT solutions at your agency, the word geography may not initially come to mind. But it should.
In particular, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is changing the way agencies operate. For example, GIS can help to manage facilities and assets by implementing various stages of planning, systems operations and maintenance. It can also be used to assist in planning a safe work environment, as well as new ways to estimate an agency’s return on investments and much more.
Because GIS technology can give real-time key performance metrics, it’s clear that geography does, in fact, impact data-driven decision making. For several government agencies, using Esri GIS sytems has been key in their success. At the most recent GovLoop and Esri meetup, “Managing Smart Facilities with GIS,” experts from the General Services Administration, NASA, and PenBay , a global leader in facilities GIS, all came together to discuss how implementing GIS-heavy tactics had positively impacted their agency’s management of smarter facilities.
Brad Ball, GIS Team Lead at NASA Langley Center Operations Directorate, spoke of the many influences GIS technology has had at center in Virginia and how the team tries to and incorporate everything they gain from GIS technology in practical ways. Through its facilities management portal, NASA has over 700 featured datasets, based on GIS information, that employees can use to perform surface analysis and access data on a rolling basis.
This enabled Ball to disperse the data to perform different services, such as emergency preparedness, and form an environmental spill plan based on the locations of drains, tanks, storm inlets and pipes. GIS technology has also allowed NASA to increase space optimization in its office buildings and see which rooms have more and less people in them — signaling either over or understaffing.
Although parking may not seem to be that crucial of an issue, Ball said by using GIS technology, NASA has been able to enhance its parking lot layout and save employees from having to walk long distances in the dark back to their vehicles.
“Location creates a sense of order out of the chaos in these facility systems, and GIS has become a system of record for creating that location,” said Richard Koochagian, Chief Operations Officer at PenBay.
This holds true for other agencies, including GSA.
“GSA isn’t just one campus,” said Terry Forline, Acting Program Manager at the agency’s GIS Center of Excellence. “We have 1,600 government-owned buildings, 377 million square feet of space, and 11 different regions.” Managing all that space isn’t simple. But GIS technology has made a huge impact on the way things are done. The technology has allowed the agency to transparently offer information and services to the public, as well as to other agencies. The agency even provides a mapping tool that can perform basic spatial analysis.
For example, the smart location calculator aspect of GIS tools allow users to model predictive transit usage between specific locations, and can even show the amount of greenhouse gases that will be emitted from commuting. This tool also grants GSA the ability to look at its leased locations to understand how location rates vary from a green perspective. By making the most use out of GIS tools, GSA has been able to make smarter, data-driven decisions.
From parking lots, to mobile apps, to leasing information, GIS technology has the capability to drastically improve agency accomplishments and allow organizations to function in more mission-centric ways. GIS services allow for time-saving tactics, smarter decisions and more holistic approaches to comprehending data analytics. To perform more effeficiently, agencies should be making the most use out of GIS technology at every level of performance.
Terry Forline, Acting Program Manager, GSA GIS Center of Excellence
Brad Ball, GIS Team Lead, NASA Langley Center Operations Directorate
Richard Koochagian, Chief Operations Officer, PenBay