At corporations and universities across the country, you can still find facility managers making...
With higher education back on campus and employees returning (slowly) to offices and corporate campuses, we can look forward to a lot more human interaction. How much exactly remains to be seen though. How long will ‘hybrid” operations continue? Is contactless everything necessary? How cautious will people be returning to indoor spaces for extended periods?
For facilities and operations management professionals, the return of larger groups of people creates a whole new set of challenges related to crowd density and sanitation. And addressing them requires a lot more than counting people going in and out of the building. That’s a good start, but meeting expectations for space utilization will require more. They will also need to understand how people are moving about in and around the building to ensure safety and compliance.
They say seeing is believing. Imagine a bird’s eye view of your building space with zoomed-in views of floor maps, and alerts and occupancy heatmaps to track overall crowd flow now and over time. This type of “crowd intelligence” can alert personnel to capacity issues, whether a space is getting too crowded, or an entire floor is at capacity. Knowing that a hotspot is forming is extremely powerful for facilities staff. Likewise, leveraging existing historical foot traffic in different spaces can inform space optimization and utilization strategies for the future. Looking back on how crowds move and evolve over time can help optimize staff: how much is needed and when. Sanitation schedules become smarter after seeing typical flow throughout a building, and security schedules can be more efficient after reviewing space use for events on the calendar. This intelligence can also help rethink corporate real estate usage, inform down-sizing or subletting decisions, and potentially save millions of dollars in building rental fees.
Spatial representation of your entire venue is the best way to bring density metrics to life and get the most out of your space. It changes the narrative from what we think we know to what we actually know. It can come with surprises, too. For example, finding out that students are more likely to hit the library at 3 a.m. instead of 3 p.m., or that a weekly meeting has been drawing more people than the space allows. Actionable intelligence of this sort can alleviate resource-strapped teams, prove space optimization strategies, and enable low-involvement monitoring and easy incident response.
And don’t be fooled into thinking that the challenges of crowds expire with COVID. The way we understand crowds and the decisions we make based on them is simply going to become more complex over time.
The crowd intelligence enabled by spatial presentation provides a better understanding of how people are interacting with building spaces and moving through them. It provides actionable intelligence like real-time alerts for overcrowding and can predict traffic flow patterns at future dates based on historical data. It can also be deployed leveraging the existing security infrastructure already in place in most buildings today.
Facilities and operations managers and their partners in IT need the right tools to ensure safe and compliant use of buildings in the new normal. Spatial presentation and crowd intelligence can take the guesswork out of their decision-making and ensure a better and safer experience for all involved.
About the Author
Ben Patterson is Senior Director of Engineering at Armored Things.