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People, Places and Process: The Impact of GIS & Facilities Management

Because we Americans spend almost 90 percent of our time indoors and because the government owns, manages or occupies roughly 500,000 facilities, the role of a facilities manager is becoming increasingly important for government. The federal government also operates more than 600,000 vehicles and employs 1.8 million civilians. Buildings have now become our primary habitats.

Facility managers believe that “ecosystem” is now the right word to describe a building portfolio. But what does it mean to manage a building ecosystem? Think back to your biology courses. Ecosystems are biological communities containing both living and non-living inhabitants. An ecosystem could be anything — a lake, forest or your favorite national park. When you study ecosystems, you are trying to find processes that link everything together, breaking down each element and understanding how each component affects the whole. And no two ecosystems are alike; each is unique and requires careful study, just like the buildings in facilities manager’s portfolio.

Today’s facilities managers play the role of building ecologists, studying an environment, piecing together data points to understand the whole. Like a scientist, they must understand the who, what, where and why of the environment. And by connecting all the dots, they can figure out how to improve the ecosystem, providing a desired state for its inhabitants.

But as a facilities manager, you don’t have microscopes and field notes in your toolkit like an ecologist would.. Instead, you’re equipped with a powerful facilities management tool: geographic information systems (GIS). GIS presents the ability to show information visually, helping you spot new trends, patterns and relationships across your building portfolio. By leveraging GIS technology, facilities managers can manage the entire life cycle of their facilities. This means everything from site selection to decommissioning buildings. Esri, the global leader in GIS, has partnered with GovLoop to create this guide. Together, we:

  • Identify the current landscape of facilities management and GIS.
  • Provide an overview of federal mandates impacting facilities management.
  • Show specific applications of GIS and facilities management, including examples from the Architect of the Capitol, North Carolina University at Charlotte and the New York City Fire Department.
  • Explore components of facilities management such as portfolio planning, operations management, safety and security.

This guide will also show how Esri’s ArcGIS platform brings together maps, apps, data and people, enabling facilities managers to make smarter decisions. From the initial site selection and throughout the entire life cycle of a building, GIS is an important tool.