Smart Installations: Resetting Federal Infrastructure

Blog Post created by fwoods-esristaff Employee on Aug 2, 2017

“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.” – CIO.gov, 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.” – CIO.gov, 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