How Smart Installations Help Government

Many government organizations manage facilities, installations or campuses. Government installations are large-scale, complex government facilities. Now the public sector is trying to take installations to the next level with smart installations. Whether it’s a facilities manager evaluating workspace, or an installation commander working to reduce energy consumption, transforming your installation to be smarter is crucial.

In GovLoop and Esri’s recent training, government leaders and geographic information system (GIS) professionals alike learned how GIS technology can take smart installations to the next level.

But what does a “smart” installation really mean? A smart installation consists of an accurate and up-to-date inventory of key assets. A smart installation also integrates systems for cross-department coordination and promotes real-time situational awareness at all levels of command.

Think of your buildings being able to tell you how the infrastructure is holding up, asbestos levels and risk to the agency if facilities suffered any damage. Lastly, smart installations provide a consistent, centralized view of all installation operations.

Why does government need smart installations? “We take the facilities for granted that are so important to government missions,” Ben Conklin, Industry Manager for the Defense, Intelligence and National Security Industries from Esri, said. “These facilities are key to our ability to respond and conduct operations. They’re research labs and training sites. They’re buildings for government employees to do the critical work they do.”

Leveraging GIS can help take smart installations to the next level. “Lots of different things happen at installations, coming from different data systems and structures,” Conklin said. “The only way to make sense of all this data and leverage it is to use maps to bring it all together to drive decision-making.”

Many government agencies have already taken steps toward smart installations, like government’s most important space agency: NASA.

Making NASA’s Langley Research Center a Smart Installation with GIS
Using GIS, NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC) went beyond mapping floor-plans. Now, the research center helps locate people and equipment while ensuring security and safety.

LaRC is an 800-acre facility with approximately 400 buildings and test structures, totaling 3.7 million gross square feet. Its 6,700 rooms house 4,000 employees. The center is primarily identified with wind tunnel research but supports many other disciplines. These include structures and materials, flight electronics and atmospheric science.

Because of LaRC’s diverse activities, the infrastructure is massive and complex with a variety of facilities. In the past few years, based on the success of its GIS implementation for facility master planning, the GIS team of LaRC in Hampton, VA carried the system forward to handle the large task of its facility’s space management.

Using Esri’s portal environment, the GIS team integrated an excess of 700 feature datasets and tables with over 250 available tools into a complete data-management and decision-support environment. The use of datasets allows LaRC to use resources intelligently and more efficiently. Ultimately, the team was able to run a smart installation.

“Our GIS portal gives us more functionality and ability to see campus-wide, multiple facilities, buildings and floors,” Shane Wolf, Software Engineer at Langley, said.

Now, the smart system is realizing cost savings for NASA as well as effectiveness. The system’s ability to integrate data from various sources allows the agency to make better decisions, resulting in opportunities for further operational improvements and reduced costs.

NASA’s LaRC is looking to mobile scanning solutions in the future as well as condition-based monitoring. “Condition-based monitoring is looking at the sensor data coming off all our equipment like temperature or speed,” Ryan Kozoriz, GIS Specialist at Langley, said. “It helps us do preventative maintenance.”

Smart Portfolio Decision-Making
While the concept of pairing GIS with installations to make them smarter sounds new, such approaches have been around for a long time. R&K Solutions, for example, is an employee-owned company established in 1984. The company specializes in real property, facility services and software solutions. The goal is to lead installations toward smarter decisions and investments.

Enterprise GIS has long been used to collect, consolidate, visualize, analyze and share real property and facilities data from a variety of systems and formats.

“Enterprise GIS has also been used to better manage indoor and outdoor assets and produce business intelligence to improve portfolio performance,” Frank Quigley, Executive Vice-President of R&K Solutions, said.

Smart installations require better data to realize improved decisions and investments. “Often, agencies encounter challenges like absent or inconsistent data,” William Wingfield, Senior Consultant at R&K Solutions, said. “A comprehensive solution incorporates industry standards, quality assurance and automation.”

Mass Alerting and Notifications
Not only have smart installations and GIS helped organizations improve facilities management as well cost savings, but the pairing can also help save lives.

GeoDecisions’ Notify under Gannett Fleming, for example, is a mass alerting system that sends text messages, email and voice alerts. This is accomplished through map-driven campaigns.

“What Notify does is enable the ability to get information out very quickly,” Brian Smith, Vice President of Commercial Solutions at GeoDecisions, Gannett Fleming, said. “For example, an insurance company can notify claims managers and clients when storms are about to hit.”

Geospace accomplished this by teaming up with Esri’s 3D viewing team to monitor building campuses. “This technology enables you to search for an area either spatially, through a room or person and you can send out an alert,” Smith said. “You can send an SMS or call the office phone.”


When installations can take the approach and frameworks from GIS and smart communities, they will become smarter installations. Ultimately, smart installations can help government achieve efficiency, transparency and cost savings while helping government better serve the public.


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