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How Indoor GIS Can Support Facility Managers Post-COVID

Even though working from home (WFH) is becoming more commonplace and many buildings are sitting vacant or nearly vacant, they still need to be maintained. Unoccupied buildings deteriorate faster than occupied ones. Without the normal foot traffic coming through these buildings, there is less chance of someone noticing a maintenance issue right away. How can GIS help facility managers maintain their buildings so they are ready when more staff return to the office?

Now that a vaccine rollout for COVID-19 is underway, companies are creating plans for a return to the office which will likely include some work from home and some work in the office. According to the latest update from the Government of Canada, provinces can expect the vaccine to be made available to the general public between late summer and late fall. This gives facility managers a few months to prepare their buildings and assets for the gradual return of office workers and visitors.

A well-maintained work environment can elevate staff performance, reduce worry about health and safety, and increase productivity. GIS has long been used for outdoor space, but did you know that it serves an equally important purpose indoors? GIS is very helpful for operations and maintenance, asset management, security, and much more.

Today, a lot of facility managers still rely on pen and paper reports, CAD drawings or Excel sheets as references for planning, maintenance, navigation and security. This can result in slow and inefficient workflows. Putting all the data in a central spatial system of record such as ArcGIS makes it easier to share information across different departments, respond to work orders faster, and navigate your way to different assets.

Here we answer some questions facility managers might have about the use of GIS indoors.

How can indoor GIS make it easier to manage facilities and buildings?

GIS provides facility managers a bigger, more detailed picture of their assets. This common operating picture can be made accessible to different stakeholders, enabling collaboration and more transparency. Everyone is working from the same data and different levels of access can be granted to allow staff to make changes or updates as needed. It provides a foundation for thorough spatial analysis that leads to better, more informed decision-making. We call this location intelligence.

Facility managers looking for an interactive map-based solution to manage their building data can take advantage of ArcGIS Indoors to track and maintain information such status, condition, inspection history, and asset information for all of their facilities. ArcGIS Dashboards allow users to view information at a glance and can be tailored to different groups, such as executives, maintenance, or office staff. This gives each group the ability to view only the data they need to get answers or make informed decisions.

For facility managers that manage huge or multiple buildings and assets within those buildings, work orders must be prioritized based on various factors, such as urgency, ease of access, and efficiency of crews. Traditional systems track asset conditions with paper maps, field work and intuition which reduces reliability of data. Forward-thinking organizations use GIS to ensure that prioritization is based on accurate data. This saves time, reduces errors, and allows managers to track the health of assets in real time.

work orders dashboard showing deep cleaning sanitation work order

How can indoor GIS help reduce costs and maximize efficiency?

Organizations that don’t monitor how their space is being used do not get a full picture of how they can operate to maximum efficiency.

If the layout of the workspace is not optimized, this can have a negative impact on productivity levels of employees. Indoor Space Planner is a browser-based app that allows managers to plan staff activity in indoor spaces, including assigning staff to specific desks or activity-based work areas called hotels or hot desks. The office can be divided into areas for meetings and collaboration, and areas for individual work where employees can focus with few distractions. Is space being used beyond capacity or is there unused space? Should space be expanded or consolidated? The app allows managers to look at historical and real-time space utilization patterns to make fast and informed decisions.

After the current pandemic, WFH is set to continue but on a lighter version. This means part of the workspace can be more flexible, such as turning fixed office spaces into hot desks that can be booked in advance by any employee. Indoors provides an analysis of foot traffic patterns for high occupancy areas so companies get a better sense of where and how much space is being used. As a result, companies can reduce the amount of space they need and alleviate costs associated with leasing space.

real time employee location for room occupancy and capacity of space

How can indoor GIS help provide a safe workplace while we recover from COVID-19?

As workplaces start reopening and employers plan for staff to return, employee safety is a top priority. A thorough occupancy and density analysis using ArcGIS can help determine how many employees can be in the office at one time and what changes must be made to seating arrangements to honour social distancing.

ArcGIS Indoors enables better planning for a new work environment that includes shared workstations and hot desks by identifying high traffic areas where sanitizing stations are most needed. Additionally, facility managers can make use of directional signage to reduce the likelihood of employees coming in close contact with one another as they move from one desk or office to another. To make the process of reporting maintenance issues more efficient, employees can use the mobile app to report an issue and upload a picture if needed. Once the request is submitted and received by the maintenance team, the staff assigned to the task can use Indoors to get exact directions to the area or asset that needs attention. In this way, employees are empowered to be part of the effort to create and maintain a safer work environment.

mobile QR code for location awareness for deep cleaning with camera showing

There are many benefits to implementing an indoor GIS strategy. ArcGIS Indoors helps facility managers turn their buildings into smart buildings. This results in more efficiency, higher productivity, and reduced costs.

Are you a facility manager planning for a safe return to campus? We have a blog for that.

Do you have questions? Contact Jean Dion to get your answers.

Or visit the ArcGIS Indoors page to learn more.

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.