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“No longer can Federal IT be seen as merely a back-office function and the management of government information relegated to a lower-level priority. Federal agencies must adapt to the modern digital world.” –, August 2, 2017


Facilities are the single most important investment


Facility managers, installation commanders and campus administrators are a force behind successful organizations. Many times, their jobs are demanding, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They may report to one person, but they have multiple customers or tenants to contend with to keep their installation running smoothly.


The US Federal Government is going through an unparalleled information technology (IT) transformation. There’s a drive to fundamentally change installations while maintaining and sustaining current operations within facilities, while modernizing the installation. This is a challenge that includes facilities and capital asset management for the repair, and renewal of aging buildings, roads, utilities and other infrastructure. This is needed to be done while implementing directives and mandates such as for antiterrorism and force protection requirements, energy reduction and sustainability.


There are tremendous risks and challenges to organizations when it comes to assessing, reporting and decision making when it comes to facilities, installations and campuses. These risks and challenges include:


  • Underfunding facilities sustainment and recapitalization
  • Reduce infrastructure costs while sustaining current and future missions/ business objectives
  • Increase space utilization
  • Maximize efficiency in delivering services
  • Effectively track assets
  • Divest excess and failing facilities
  • Improve processes, policies and standard business practices


This is a tall order! Where to start? Government facility managers, installation commanders and campus administrators must deliver facility and business information and services to their workforce using any platform or device, anytime, and anywhere.


The old way was to use paper and pen to capture information about assets, such as building information, provided a description and possibly markup a blue-line drawing. This manual technique was transferred to some digital tools. But manual data entry was still needed, adding time for collection, organization and data entry, this added room for errors.


A modern approach is needed to close the productivity disparity between transitioned workflows and transformational workflows. New, future ready workflows quickly and precisely capture facility information, while removing the probability of errors through manual data entry.


To start, you need an accurate facility basemap. Then add other authoritative foundation layers. Some installations have the basemap and or foundation data already in a GIS, while others have used old computer aided design (CAD) systems to capture and possibly maintain the basemap and foundation features.


If you have CAD drawings in digital format, many times it is an image file you print to take to the field. CAD to geographic information systems (GIS) is the beginning of being transformational. Yes! GIS is the transformational technology. A modern GIS such as ArcGIS can store your basemap, foundation data and your facility drawings as GIS data that are made available as a feature, map or image service to be consumed by a CAD system. Storing all your data in CAD, you lose fidelity of information, such as metadata beyond what CAD requires. Moving from a CAD base to the ArcGIS location platform is the right long-term investment to optimize and support your facilities and installation mission or business function.


Adoption of the ArcGIS location platform is the start of driving efficiency using industry best practices. Today and in the past, best practices include remapping an installation every 3-5 years. This is time consuming and costly. The costs to your organization, are not just for the remapping and updating, but could be losses due to allocation of funds from underreporting of new infrastructure and other capital improvements.


Was the capital improvement completed? Why not instantly add it to your basemap for reporting, and operations and maintenance funding?


Your facility or installation is unique, and so are the solutions and options for using the location platform. Thinking though your location strategy—you will arrive at an approach to using the ArcGIS location platform that best meets your facility’s or installation’s unique needs and goals. The idea is to determine where the highest need areas are and where the location platform can add the most value. Part of that value is having a workflow in place to collect and validate updated facility or installation information to keep the basemap or foundation data up-to-date on a constant basis, dropping the costs associated with a 3-5-year lag. This ensures every dollar needed is requested and targeted appropriately.


Once your location platform is running and location strategy agreed upon, you are ready to drive efficiency to the next level. Geo-enabling your business systems such as finance, workorder management, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system and others is necessary. This makes integrated installation management solutions development possible. Developing organizational-wide apps, further drives costs down for operating and maintaining facilities and installations by standardizing processes through the consistent employment of best practices, innovation, policies, and tools.


“Sustainability and transparency drives value in Federal IT.” –, August 2, 2017


 The location platform is the underlying integrative technology and strategy to effectively manage facilities and installations. Using modern tools, such as the location platform, facilitates better informed federal government infrastructure decisions. This is done through implementing a central repository for facility and installation information; cross-installation shared business and IT services; configurable dashboards; and maintaining a facility and installation portfolio.


Central repository for facility and installation information

  • Curtails redundancy
  • Ensures ongoing data validation and verification
  • Reduces duplicative infrastructure

Cross-installation shared business and IT services – for desktop, web and mobile apps

  • Access across functions, providers and consumers
  • Cut waste and duplication
  • Focus on mission

Configurable dashboards

  • Credential-based access
  • Instantly see statistics on progress
  • See where to focus action

Facility and installation portfolio

  • Assess current portfolio-wide status
  • Perform capital planning and control analysis
  • Review common business functions


Implementing the location platform does drive value. A key aspect is to use your geo-enabled, business, facility and installation information, developed from authoritative data, and performance metrics, to make geospatially linked decisions. This strategy to use a map helps you to see patterns and anomalies not easily deduced from text, spreadsheets and tables. Where to focus your effort?


Reduce and optimize federal government infrastructure footprint

Time is of the essence. Old business practices need to be replaced with future generational best practices to help agencies be more effective and efficient. Working to trim and revamp infrastructure footprint by condensing, implementing space management to expand facility utilization, while divesting excess and failing facilities is necessary for the good of the installation, organization and taxpayers.


Develop facilities investment strategy

The location platform using smart facilities apps provide organizations with the processes, analytics and best practices to drive your strategy for space and real property management. Using geospatially enabled tools managers and commanders can view performance metrics, maintenance metrics and energy use metrics to determine whether to reconfigure, update, divest or demolish facilities and real property.


Implement best practices

Applying the ArcGIS location platform for facility and installation management is a best practice. However, it may be necessary to use Esri partners and their ability to implement best practices, with less effort, and lower cost of time and money. For example, using a partner solution to move CAD data to GIS.


Align and consolidate installation management

Having an authoritative common installation picture is not enough. Using an authoritative organizational-wide system for managing your installation and facility information that can feed information to senior leaders, in real-time, aligns and consolidates installation management, while improving effectiveness, maximizing efficiency and reduces costs. The enterprise approach will align facilities, installations, operations and senior leader engagement to create a unified approach.


Way forward

Smart installations have improved facilities and installation management, This promotes readiness. Using the ArcGIS location platform to determine what essential infrastructure facilities, installations and other critical infrastructure is necessary to continue operational reform, supported by affordable lifecycle management.


Learn more about Smart Installations

The Esri Location Platform for Sustainability


Being a smart installation enables you to meet your sustainable goals. A sustainable Installation is essential. Sustainability enables organizational readiness by ensuring the resources needed for your workforce are available and properly maintained. This provides confidence, in the workforce, that their resources are ready for use now and in the future to support training, operations or the mission/business function.


General sustainability tenets for facilities, installations and campuses—collectively Installations—are needed to create a balance between environmental preservation, livibility, workability, land use, and people. The fabric that connects the following tenets is geography.


  • Dedicated Staff
  • Sustainability Goals
  • Track Performance
  • Holistic Approach
  • Build Partnerships
  • Share Knowledge


You need dedicated staff to provide the necessary leadership for a successful installation sustainability program. This staff fosters inter-departmental cooperation and accountability, spearheads planning, identifies needed resources, and advocates for sustainability goals within departments.


You set sustainability goals based on several factors. For many government installations, laws, directives, mandates, and policies dictate what needs to be done and sometimes sets priorities and completion dates. However, it’s up to the installation leadership to establish short-, mid- and long-range goals. This should include planning and implementation strategies. Such as focusing on renewable energy and water conservation and the technology required to meet the goal.


Your success is measured by predefined key performance indicators (KPIs). To assure accuracy you need an integrative platform to track performance across all your business systems. The success of a sustainability program can best be measured through comparison with past performance. Therefore, when you establish an effective system to monitor and collect target data, and tie it geographically, you get more than tables and bar graphs, you get maps. Using maps, patterns and anomalies pop out.


When you take a holistic approach, seemingly independent and dissimilar problems often reveal causes or solutions when considered as parts of a larger system. When you use a location platform to map then understand and improve the interaction between business systems, environmental and range management systems, patterns emerge. This gives you an advantage, ultimately saving time and costs while meeting the needs of your workforce and installation.


A sustainability plan is more than your staff. To provide enduring support for sustainability initiatives, build partnerships among departments, tenant organizations, the workforce, academia and neighboring communities. Also, build partnerships with organizations, such as geospatial and architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms, that employ subject matter experts. They can help guide, advise and implement solutions to quickly enable sustainability across your installation.


As sustainability efforts mature you need to manage expectations. By sharing knowledge, you promote transparency, communication, and education among installation staff, workforce, tenants, academia and neighboring communities. This will ensure the next generation of leadership and the workforce have the necessary tools to guide and support future sustainability initiatives.


Installation staff use geographic information systems (GIS) as an enabling technology to better manage the installation, and provide a healthy, safe and sustainable work environment. GIS or location platform equips stakeholders, such as facility managers, installation commanders and campus administrators with the tools required to be better stewards. These tools include:


  • Visualization tools to see the state of the installation on a map and key performance indicators on the dashboard surrounding the map, to quickly see the performance of the installation.
  • Analysis tools to layer and combine information from multiple sources, enabling patterns to be seen, that are not visible in spreadsheets.
  • Predictive analytics to provide a level of maintenance strategies to ensure continuity of operations, while reducing costs overruns due to emergency maintenance


The location platform and GIS tools used by staff and stakeholders add greater insights to meet sustainability goals.


Learn more, watch and participate in the Smart Installations webinars

The Future


The future of facilities, installations and campuses—collectively installations—is to become a smart installation. There’s no way for you to avoid making your installation smart. With fewer resources and additional forces such as external threats, mandates, laws and the fidelity of information required to boost your key performance indicators (KPIs), you must do something.


Most large installations, such as government facilities and military installations are using geographic information systems (GIS) to map the installation. The GIS people may be “the map makers,” have official titles such as, geospatial information officer (GIO) or geographer. There may be one person or serval on staff using GIS to make maps.


Your GIS staff are responsible for creating and maintaining the installation basemap. In some instances, they enable field workers to use digital maps to help make their job easier. The staff are also responsible for the standards used to collect, manage and maintain geospatial information. In essence they’ve created a location strategy for their mission, to create, collect and maintain the installation basemap.


What’s the next steps to move from a departmental location strategy to geo-enabling the installation?  You need to perform a location assessment for the installation, including all departments, organizations and tenants that make up the installation. Create a location strategy for the entire installation, and sometimes in cooperation with the surrounding community. Then prioritize the needs and wants because trying to geo-enable the whole installations can be daunting.


Enable Your installation


Smart installations start by connecting your facilities, departments, and others. Your workforce, tenants and contractors become connected through geo-enabled applications that focus on improving interdepartmental collaboration, and situational awareness, while optimizing operational efficiency. For facility managers, installation commanders, and campus administrators this means managing operational expenditures and minimizing the need for new capital expenditures while improving the experience for all employees and visitors at the installation.


Your installation can start the transformation to become smarter by launching an initial operating capability (IOC) or proof-of-concept projects that replace paper-based processes or outdated technology. Esri and Esri Partners developed many app templates and tools, that can be configured, for hundreds of different tasks and services to turn operations in the field, in the facility or on the installation into insights in the office. Applications are provided around IOCs that engage facility departments and tenant organizations. These IOCs are collections of domain-specific apps that offer functionality to support your tasks and workflows.


Esri partners, such as GISincorporated, are your go to solution providers for affordable solutions that can be quickly implemented. GISInc offers an initial operating capability for asset management.


Using both indoor and outdoor tracking technologies (GPS, WiFI, BlueTooth, VLC, RFID) we are able to track movement and status of critical assets in a spatial context. This allows Facilities Managers and Operation Managers to reduce loss and theft, find critical assets when needed, and monitor and document workflow processes associated with those assets. 


Empowering your workforce and digitally transforming any single aspect of your asset management system aids individual workers and provides a common map and dashboard view to see the status of projects. Installations can start with a smart lighting system with high efficiency fixtures and automated controls to make adjustment based on conditions such as occupancy or daylight availability. Such projects allow the community to create a workflow model that, with minor configuration, can be replicated across your enterprise.


Learn more, watch and participate in the Smart Installations webinars.


Read more Smart Installations: Facilities Management and Sustainability

The Internet of Things (IoT) has generated a great deal of interest, particularly for how these connected devices can motivate transformation and make our facilities and installations smarter. This new level of two-way communication gathers details from distributed assets, and can offer an integrated understanding of the well-being and performance of individual facilities and the installation. However, the volume, velocity and variety of data, the necessary investment in hardware, and integrating this data with existing systems poses a daunting set of implementation challenges.


Combining information from a system of interconnected sensors, and building smart installation solutions are a natural fit for geographic information system (GIS). All data, including structured and unstructured data; big data; and data from IoT sensors, and devices have the attributes of space and time—the where and the when. Your analysts use this information to create intelligence, aggregating all installation data in a mapping and analytics interface.


Smart installation solutions, powered by Esri's location platform, enable better and easier access to operational data. The location platform can consume and integrate data from other organizational systems, such as work order and asset management systems, as well as from sources like facility drawings in computer-aided drafting (CAD) or Excel spreadsheets. Once loaded into the location platform, the information is made available, via map services, for you and your workforce to access using mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets; and dashboards such as the Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS. The location platform extends access to your workforce at all levels, thus increasing productivity and safety.


Connecting your various business systems to geography reveals patterns that lead to actionable insight. Smart installations use the information and insight gleaned from one business line to affect and improve the rest of the organization. Immediate access to relevant information, at any scale, provides answers to place-based queries and can push information to staff whether in their office or in the field. Using mobile technology, you can run your facility using any device, anytime and anywhere.


Learn more, Smart Installations: Sustainable Installation Webinar


Read more Smart Installations: Enable Your Installation

I market Esri technology to defense organizations. I’m no longer using Esri technology for real-world military applications to solve problems. I’m a former US Army Topographic Engineer Officer. While in the Army, I used ARC/INFO and eventually ArcGIS.


Aside from marketing, I still use ArcGIS and other Esri technology offerings such as ArcGIS Online, snap2map iOS app, and Esri Story Maps.  I learned about geospatial technology including geographic information systems (GIS) when their interfaces were a command line, aka C prompt. In the early to late 1990s, command line was being replaced by user interfaces that we have grown to know, mostly through the Windows® operating system. Let’s step into the 21st century with ArcGIS Pro!


Installing ArcGIS Pro 1.0 was quick and easy. I selected the defaults and it was a matter of minutes before I had the start screen come up.


ArcGIS Pro start screen.jpg

I was able to quickly find an existing project template, Observation Post.


ArcGIS Pro select template.jpg


NOTE: The Observation Post template is a pre-configured, ArcGIS for the Military—Land Operations template.


Look Ma, no hands!

This is amazing! With the deployment of ArcGIS Pro, I can have pre-configured templates available for anyone in my organization to use. The best part? When I start with an ArcGIS for the Military template, the maps, tools necessary styles and more for my work are automatically loaded!


ArcGIS Pro AFM-LO OP template.jpg


Keep coming back to read more about my adventures with ArcGIS Pro.

Ok folks, every time I see LiDAR I cringe. Light Detection and Ranging has been around for a few years. It's a great technology and is moving more and more towards mainstream . . . think autonomous cars and other technology that uses lidar. I came across this on the US Geological Survey National Geospatial Technical Operations Center

(NGTOC), page that linked to


Survey says . . . lidar