GIS: The App For Campus Management

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What comes to mind when you hear the word,
campus? You may immediately think of winding,
tree-covered paths full of students meandering
through the quad on a bright fall afternoon – the
setting of a university, college, or school. But
business parks, health profession complexes, and
industrial sites are considered campuses too. In
fact, any collection of grouped facilities managed
by a single entity can be considered a campus. It
can be located at a single site or an
assortment of sites around the world.

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GIS: The App For Campus Management

  1. 1. Concepts Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc. Summer 2013 onceptsC Let’s try a word association exercise: What comes to mind when you hear the word, campus? You may immediately think of winding, tree-covered paths full of students meandering through the quad on a bright fall afternoon – the setting of a university, college, or school. But business parks, health profession complexes, and industrial sites are considered campuses too. In fact, any collection of grouped facilities managed by a single entity can be considered a campus. It can be located at a single site or an assortment of sites around the world. Campuses with a physical presence share one commonality: they are environments in geographic space made up of buildings and their supporting infrastructure – collectively known as assets. The assets on a campus are similar to those found in a small city. And just like cities, campuses require a steward – a person or team to manage, plan, and maintain them. This management team oversees a variety of assets at multiple scales, from big picture planning to accommodate growth, changing business practices, and technology, to the more detailed planning required to maintain the current systems on a daily basis. From the macro to the micro, one tool is ideally suited to help campus facilities managers do their job: geographic information systems, or GIS. Ask campus facilities managers what keeps them up at night and you may hear, “I need to know what assets we have and where they are located, understand key information about them, and GIS: THE APP FOR CAMPUS MANAGEMENT be able to quickly access more detailed record documents with confidence.” Until recently, this was accomplished within a paper-driven paradigm; think coffee-stained blueprints and color-coded spreadsheets. But using paper for data storage and retrieval is inefficient and hinders a manager’s ability to seamlessly access information and incorporate it across multiple facilities and infrastructure systems. What paper hinders, GIS makes possible. In GIS, the facilities manager has a system to record and track all campus assets, so they can be dealt with immediately in case of emergency or provide information for more detailed studies of a particular system. GIS helps the campus facilities manager understand campus geography and make informed decisions through its extraordinary spatial visualization and analytical tools. Using GIS, a facilities manager can, for example, understand where the campus’s steam and condensate return lines run, recognize where fiber optic and telephone lines are buried, and identify the location of storm and sanitary sewers in a single software application. GIS can be used collaboratively with other mapping tools, such as CAD and BIM, to make them more effective. Not only do campus managers have to oversee many types of facility and utility information, they also must employ sound capital improvement planning strategies to maintain and develop their assets. The days of waiting for a problem to occur “I need to know what assets we have and where they are located, understand key information about them...” GIS graphic by ESRI ArcGIS©
  2. 2. www.ftch.com/concepts For more information regarding GIS mapping, please contact Michelle C. Lazar, P.E., GISP mclazar@ftch.com before repairing or replacing assets are fading fast. Campus managers must be responsible system directors and spend funds wisely to ensure their systems work efficiently. When we look at what is possible with GIS, we can begin to appreciate its full potential as an asset management tool; specifically, its ability to analyze spatial relationships. GIS defines an asset’s geospatial location in relation to other assets in proximity. In other words, GIS uncovers the interaction between, let’s say, a particular building and all the other identified objects in the natural and built environment. Information being tracked in GIS may include location, size, material, age, condition, capacity, daily maintenance, and deferred maintenance – all important components of an asset management system. Once confident in the data, campus managers use it as a reliable source for planning. And because assets have a defined location, information about its environment can also be imported into the GIS, e.g., soil permeability, land cover, wetlands, flood plain, and topography. This additional insight might affect an asset’s life cycle and, in turn, its criticality score. Critical locations can also be flagged that affect off- campus services, such as the potential impact of asset failure on a nearby hospital or major transportation system. So if a campus is like a city, what tools are cities using for GIS and asset management? ESRI ArcGIS© (www.esri.com) is a major GIS software provider for mapping and analyzing information on infrastructure assets. The ArcGIS local government data model was initially implemented for managing water distribution/wastewater collection systems. Recently, it was expanded and released as a campus data model that includes streets, sidewalks, trees, parking, and buildings. These models serve as a framework for building systems in a format supported by ESRI and its user community. GIS provides the facilities manager with an organizational tool to store, display, and analyze information on many campus services in a single platform. It presents different spheres of knowledge in a spatially relational database, increasing information access and enabling collaboration among key stakeholders. This capability allows campus managers to confidently determine strategies that optimize the performance and planned development of their campus assets. “...GIS uncovers the interaction between a particular building and all the other identified objects in the natural and built environment.” Building Condition Assessment Campus Utility Map Layers Sewer Condition Rating

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