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Exploring How GIS Can Be Used to Manage Facilities and Plan Campuses

There are dozens of applications as to how GIS can be used to improve the public sector, everything from improving service delivery, gaining efficiency, and monitoring and assessing government programs. One emerging area of GIS is the use of GIS to help plan and optimize facilities. Public sector organizations operate and maintain thousands of facilities, and with GIS, facility managers can gain new insights throughout the entire lifecycle of a facility. With GIS managers can make smart decisions on site selections, optimizing space and improve business continuity.

Post Highlights

  • Be sure to view GovLoop’s recent interview with Esri President Jack Dangermond
  • GIS has been used to help manage the lifecycle of facilities, from site selection to removal
  • The University of Rochester uses GIS to manage maintenance requests to avoid service disruptions

Traditionally, GIS was used to measure the environmental impact of a facility within the community. Now, with advancements to GIS technology, and the integration of many other kinds of data, GIS for facilities is helping mangers think through the entire lifecycle of a building. Managers are using GIS to conduct an environmental analysis while making site location decisions, planning landscapes, making security decisions, and selecting materials for construction. GIS also has applications for inside buildings, as GIS has been used for space utilization, emergency management, and compliance with state, local, or federal mandates.

Esri describes three main ways that GIS has been used for facilities, planning and portfolio management, operations and maintenance, sustainment, and, finally, security and compliance. With portfolio management, cities can use 3D visualization for planning and asset management. With operations and maintenance, Esri describes how organizations have used Esri for “space planning, construction management, work requests, and utility and asset management.”

With sustainment, security, and compliance, GIS can help visualize information in real-time, Esri provides four examples, which can be found below:

  • Campus and portfolio-wide query, analysis, and reporting on energy and environmental issues for combined interior and landscape environments.
  • Management of safety and security, including line-of-sight analysis, monitoring of points of entry, and tracking areas of higher than average safety issues.
  • Emergency planning and response.
  • Disaster planning and business continuity.

Esri has a great report that highlights many uses of GIS for facilities, GIS in Education: Across Campuses, Inside Facilities. The report provides dozens of case studies identifying how GIS has been used to improving decision making through spatial analysis. One case study in particular was from the University of Rochester. The University of Rochester has approximately 4,600 undergraduate and 3,900 graduate students.

Also, the university is affiliated with the Strong Memorial Hospital, which is the sixth largest employer in New York State, and largest in the Greater Rochester area. The university has grown in size, the Esri report identified that the campus has grown by approximately 1,000,0000 square feet every decade.

With the rapid expansion, the University needed to properly manage growth, placement of facilities and make environmentally conscious decisions on buildings. As the case study states, “Rapid expansion has led to a complex and often difficult to manage matrix of utilities located throughout the university campus. The university has responsibility for domestic water, chilled water, hot water, steam, condensate return, fiber-optic, telephone, natural gas, storm sewer, sanitary sewer, electric distribution, street lighting systems, and medical gases inside the hospital and research complex. None of these utilities follow a traditional right-of-way layout—systems often crisscross each other to form what looks like a complicated underground spider’s web. This web of utilities complicates new installations and repairs. Utility excavations are a constant concern.”

Since the university includes a medical facility, all of these systems need to be functioning and reliable all day. The University of Rochester hired an Esri partner in Rochester to develop a solution using ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS 3D Analyst. The University was able to convert old drawings into georeferenced data sets and host them within a geodatabase for access. This allowed broader accessibility and helped managers know spots that maintenance might have an adverse affect on services.

As technology advances at a seemingly exponential rate, buildings are becoming more complex. Critical decisions need to be made about materials, infrastructure, space, and understand the cost structures, in the near term and future, to make a proper decision. With the use of GIS for facilities, organizations can make proper decisions, and fully understand the entire life cycle of a facility.

Esri shares some other great examples of how facilities have been used GIS. Two great examples are LA County Solar Map and Green Planning Tool and R&K Solutions Facilities Budget and Forecasting.

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Esri was founded in 1969, it realized even then that geographic information system (GIS) technology could make a difference in society. GIS helps people to solve problems at local, regional, national, and global scales. Access maps and apps at ArcGIS.com. Be sure to check out all the
 GIS resources produced by Esri and GovLoop.

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