With more than 40 buildings and a total of 4.4 million square feet of indoor space, the facility management team for the Beaufort County School District (BCSD) has their hands full. They are also responsible for the planning and maintenance of all district-owned outdoor space and related infrastructure.
When they managed all of that space with paper plans, it was difficult to understand what they had and how it was being used. They decided to digitize their floor plans and save them in a shared file, but realized they needed a better way to keep the plans current and easily accessible.
BCSD had some homework to do. Finding and implementing the right technology solution fell to Carol Crutchfield, planning coordinator in Facilities Planning and Construction. “We needed a consolidated data system where we could log in and pull up our buildings, floor plans, assets, infrastructure, and related documents and visualize them on a map. In other words, we were looking for a way to use a geographic information system (GIS) to do facility management.”
“Having a centralized view of our buildings dramatically improves communications and decision support.”
BCSD found their solution in Cartegraph. The facility management solution leverages the Esri ArcGIS platform for a seamless data flow, using location as the organizing principle. This means users can visualize, interact with, and manage data from multiple systems. But unlike conventional GIS, Cartegraph is purpose-built for facility management. The team can use the solution to better plan, manage, and protect their property and assets—validating mission-critical facility lifecycle decisions.
With all of their facilities and floor plans available in Cartegraph and ArcGIS, BCSD has real-time visibility on the state of their operations. Crutchfield says she continues to be inspired by all the ways the team uses the data: capacity planning during the COVID-19 pandemic, saving money on grounds maintenance contracts, understanding daily facilities use, optimizing space utilization, and more.
Crutchfield says having their facilities data in a centralized, cloud-based solution drives efficiency across the organization. For example, when the team is working on a planning project, they can pull up a space in Cartegraph, see the site, and look inside the buildings in a matter of minutes compared to the hours it would have taken to scrounge up the correct drawings or physically visit sites in the past. “Having a centralized, consolidated view of our buildings and assets presented on a map dramatically improves communications and decision support,” says Crutchfield.
“This is an immense time-saver, and saving time usually equates to saving money.”
Every structure, building, or renovation in the school district carries dozens of related files. Cartegraph has made it much easier to find not just floor plans, but also other documents like contracts, warranty information, operations and maintenance manuals, repair work dates, and capital improvement plans related to projects.
“When you select a building on the map, you have instant access to all the documents relevant to that particular school. This is an immense time-saver, and saving time usually equates to saving money,” adds Crutchfield.
Another use case that saved the district money was the right-sizing of their grounds maintenance contracts. By getting accurate acreage numbers at each campus, the team realized they were paying for more service than they needed in some areas. They adjusted their contracts to the true acreage needs and freed up funding for other uses.
BCSD was especially grateful to have their facility as-built floor plans documented in Cartegraph this year. Schools change how they assign their spaces every year, but the pandemic threw in some extra complications. The district's COVID-19 task force used Cartegraph to lay out spaces with social distancing in place to keep teachers safe. They identified rooms that would be problematic with capacity restrictions. They even used it to generate square footage estimates to be able to order the right size fogger machines for disinfecting purposes.
In normal times, the district appreciates having an at-a-glance view at facilities use. When they rent out the cafeteria, auditorium, or gym, that information is easily available to the facilities team.
Finally, being able to see how a space was designed compared to how it is actually being used helps the BCSD facility management department make informed decisions that help improve space utilization. For example, most BCSD buildings have been renovated to include special education classrooms with wheelchair accessible bathrooms.
“Often times, we’ll find other classes assigned to these spaces when the special education students could really use the facilities available in these rooms,” says Crutchfield. “We can see room assignments within buildings on the map which helps us determine where we can better utilize space. If we can optimize space utilization and delay new construction or renovation, it saves money for the district.”