Facilities Management Checklist: Logistics, Density, Analytics

Before COVID-19, facilities managers were already working in two worlds, combining a nuts-and-bolts understanding of building operations with business acumen and strategic vision.

Today Facilities Managers, and those with more senior titles like the Director of Facilities and Operations, are faced with challenges that are the direct result of the pandemic – and will impact both their immediate and long-term planning. They include:

Together, these three issues dominate many conversations with facilities managers who are investigating crowd intelligence and dashboard analytics to help support their work to reopen campuses and venues.


LOGISTICS OF ISOLATION AND QUARANTINE


For facilities managers working in higher education,  isolation and quarantining policies can vary from school to school. It often depends on resources and how much real estate is available. In typical times, of course, housing decisions are made far in advance of actual occupancy.

But Covid-19 concerns and challenges change week to week depending on many factors, and universities have to work hard to keep paceIn this environment, it’s necessary to have a single view of an entire campus or venue, so facilities managers can identify underutilized buildings and floors, and see peak usage times for things like bus stops and dining services.

There’s also a new focus on how on-campus teams are communicating to internal stakeholders and the community at large. At Westminster, MD-based McDaniel College, a page for parents offers the Isolation and Quarantine Q&A.  “Why is the college sending students in isolation or quarantine to a Best Western? I thought you said they would be provided accommodations on campus?”

Answer: “Isolation guidelines require one bathroom per student, which we cannot do effectively in our communal housing on campus. “

Once alternative housing is opened, facilities teams often have to coordinate daily room cleanings and meal delivery. (And sometimes contend with students sharing their dissatisfaction with quarantine housing standards on social media.) Many facilities managers say having an agreed upon data set showing how many students need secondary housing and for how long has helped their overall communication efforts.


“The trouble with understanding how buildings and floors are being utilized—especially with reduced staff on the premises—is typically a lack of reliable data. Facilities managers need data analytics to show how things like holidays and semester finals impact the hours that office buildings and campus libraries are crowded.”


MANAGING CROWD DENSITY


Before COVID-19, facilities mangers talked about density in terms of groups—corporate divisions, for example. One division (i.e. Legal) might grow by 20 percent and the facilities manager would have to consider things like whether that division might host more special events, or require more large meeting rooms.

But the pandemic changed how facilities managers talk about crowd density. Due to a new awareness of physical distancing, the post-pandemic facilities manager needs reliable, real-time data to understand exactly when and where students, fans or employees are gathered. Now density is talked about in terms of crowds, overcrowding and gatherings. This is an area where AI software that accurately monitors density—with real-time alerts for capacity thresholds—can provide valuable insights for improved, data-based decision making.


ANALYTICS FOR SPACE MANAGEMENT


The pandemic introduced several new angles to the topic of space management and utilization–a familiar one to facilities managers. Understanding occupancy vs. capacity is the simple foundation of space utilization.  Let those numbers grow too far apart and it could mean you are paying to light, heat and staff a building with a 1,000-person capacity, occupied by only 100 people four days a week. That data was hard enough for facilities teams to see before the pandemic, but now there’s a need to schedule more cleaning crews, meet a demand to operate at half capacity (A/B work teams) and set up workflow and foot traffic to avoid bottlenecks and crowding.

The trouble with understanding how buildings and floors are utilized—especially with reduced staff on the premises—is typically a lack of reliable data. Facilities managers need data analytics to show how things like holidays and semester finals impact the hours that office buildings and campus libraries are crowded.

With historical overlays to look back at trends, facilities managers can predict things like how many cars and people will show up at graduation ceremonies and championship games. In that way, AI and predictive analytics can help facilities managers prepare and plan for the future in ways they never could before. This is the sort of data that can be helpful in real-time but also for planning space optimization as campuses and venues begin to reach full capacity.

Check out this quick introduction to Armored Things and learn more about its value to Facilities Managers during COVID-19 & beyond.

Is The Future of Physical Security Tech Enabled?

Part 2: The Security Challenges of Reopening Offices, Campuses and Venues

This is the second in a series of four blogs sharing insights from a Clubhouse discussion hosted by Armored Things investor Glasswing Ventures about some of the security challenges involved with reopening post-COVID for businesses, schools and venues.

The participants represented a 360-degree view of the topic covering everything from security and technology to business and operations. The speakers included:

  • Rick Grinnell — Founder and Managing Partner, Glasswing Ventures
  • Julie Johnson Roberts — Co-Founder & CEO, Armored Things
  • Tom Axbey — Operator, Investor, Advisor, and Armored Things Board Member
  • ​David McLeod — VP, Chief Information Security Officer, Cox Enterprises
  • Charlie Bonomo — Senior Vice President & CIO, MSC Industrial Supply
  • ​Brendan Welter — Chief Security & Technology Officer, Sterling National Bank
  • Chris Lord — Co-founder and CTO, Armored Things

In this segment, the discussion shifts from what reopening looks like to the role technology might play in that process.

Rick Grinnell
So, how much of this (safely reopening business, schools and venues) is going to be technology enabled, and how much of it is just simple, basic process? Tom, you used to lead a technology company that was in the safety business, why don’t we start with you and your thoughts on that subject.

Tom Axbey
When I was in the safety business, it was primarily focused on higher education. Campuses generally have a professional, well trained and equipped campus safety force. That’s the backbone of it. But then you’ve got to realize that most campuses are equipped to protect the perimeter of the campus, and who can come in, and who can come out, not what happens there (on campus). So, you can sort that out digitally. But if you look at it historically, college campuses basically relied on blue lights and digital sign engines. Then mobile changed everything. Everyone had a mobile phone in 2007, which coincided with Virginia Tech and the need for proactive notification. But it was still very reactive. Higher Ed campuses today are going through a huge change. On one hand, they’re very semester based. At the same time, they have huge sporting events, and they’re also balancing distancing-learning with onsite populations. David (McLeod) said that basically he’s made three to four years of progress in one year, and I think everyone’s gone through that in the enterprise. And Charlie (Bonomo) said they’re setting up hotel rooms. But if you’re a college campus you don’t have that. So, what you need to do is start being more proactive about how you manage people, because campuses were always about the perimeter of physical security and then mobile devices. So how do you track people? And that’s really the biggest challenge that campuses have right now, especially as they face going back to school this year.

Brendan Welter
I had an observation that those that have done well through this crisis, are those that have been decisive. And primarily it’s been those that have been decisive due to supporting data and things of that nature. What Julie and Tom and others have been speaking about certainly resonate with me in terms of being able to collect the right information to get to the right decision maker. So, the decision makers can lay out a path forward. That doesn’t mean they won’t course correct. But it does mean they will make be decisive about opening, and opening on a specific percentage, but they will prioritize their colleagues on that behalf. I do certainly believe that data and technology is going to support decisive companies that will be successful in the long haul.

Tom Axbey
You’ve got to be data driven.

David McLeod
Even when I think about discovering the pattern of what happened on day one with 5% walk through testing and adapting to that, we don’t know how folks came and went through buildings. We know that we put up these cool new areas, but we’re watching ants in an ant hill and we don’t see it yet. So, we need the data before we need to adjust. We need the data after too. It can be our biggest guidance, especially if the data let us talk to people about how to feel safe.

Tom Axbey
And you’ll say you need access to the data during as well, right.

David McLeod
Absolutely.

Charlie Bonomo
You know, what I wonder about is the position that companies will take based on doing this as the new kind of reoccurring event, like a power failure. So, I put in generators and things like that and it just happened once. In this case, we’re all going to get vaccinated and in 10 years we won’t be talking about it anymore. Because to solve these issues or to facilitate them with technology, it’s probably a fair amount of infrastructure that gets laid down at a cost. Will companies lay down the infrastructure, or will they handle it with process and kind of keep their fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen more regularly?

Julie Roberts Johnson
I think that’s a great point. From my perspective, I sometimes worry that security and safety generally are underfunded until a bad thing happens. Then they temporarily get budget. And then as attention kind of weans away from them again, the budget tends to go away a little bit as well. Then we’re potentially caught flat footed the next time a similar or same event happens. So, my hope here is that we’ve had a bit of global learning; that this becomes part of that preparedness posture the same way you would want to have board-level conversations about cyber hygiene, or in a university setting, things like active shooter. I think it’s unacceptable if those Black Swan events have not been contemplated at a very high level for an organization. And I imagine that despite maybe the level of threat perceived to going down, I would imagine that there’s still a perception that these things could happen again from what we’ve learned.

Read part 1: Understanding and accounting for the psychological security of reopening