Facilities Management has traditionally been defined by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) as the ‘organisational function which integrates people, place, and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business’. However, the physical buildings and assets that spring to mind when using terms such as ‘built environment’ and ‘facilities’ no longer cover the full scope of what is needed to integrate people, place, and process with the purpose of improving.
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The built environment and facilities management itself is moving rapidly into the realm of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Building Internet of Things (BIoT). For universities looking to provide competitive and connected environments for their students, staff, faculty, visitors, and surrounding communities, facilities management teams must be able to manage the traditional physical infrastructure aspects while also expanding to manage the digital infrastructure of a campus of the future.
The Combination of Digital and Physical
An example of this expanding focus for facilities management includes car parking. Car parks on campus must be monitored for safety and security reasons, and receive inspections and physical upkeep. However, for campuses looking to offer smart parking features, there will be new assets, such as parking space sensors, as well as digital information points to maintain. With this feature, students who are commuting to campus can interact with their university’s mobile app to request a parking space nearest their classrooms. A smart app using location management will be able to predict the student’s arrival, reserve a space, and provide the student with an automated and unique access code.
In order to provide a service like this, the physical layout and capacity of all the car parks and spaces on campus must be known and recorded. The data must be accurate, available, and structured in a way that is usable. Digital models will be needed and each parking space must be equipped with access technology and sensors to indicate the real-time usage of each space. These physical sensors become a new asset for the facilities management teams to manage, and so does the data the sensors produce. The campus must also be equipped with the appropriate mobile and Wi-Fi service, so that the devices students are using to request spaces and select location can stay connected with no interruptions.
Facility Management Transforms to Manage the Smart Campus
This blend of physical and digital infrastructure management offers exciting possibilities when applied to classrooms, campus security, cameras, access, fire, HVAC, lighting, comfort control, indoor air quality, energy supply, and more.
Research and advisory company, Gartner, Inc., explores these possibilities further and defines the ‘smart campus’ as ‘a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact in increasingly open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystems. Multiple elements, including people, processes, services and things, come together to create a more immersive, interactive, and automated experience for students, staff, faculty and stakeholders of a university or college.’
With facilities management deemed the appropriate department to manage this ‘immersive, interactive, and automated experience’ that is being transformed by the possibilities of technology, so too, must the FM profession go through a transformation, developing into, perhaps, the term ‘infrastructure management’ to better describe the growing scope of responsibilities, both physical and digital. Facilities management professionals must be poised and ready to embrace the exciting future of campus management.
An extensive report around this topic was recently published by Planon with a group of distinguished higher education professionals. You can also watch this video of these higher education experts discussing their research around the transformation of facilities management.