Posted on 07/22/2017

How IoT Impacts Facility Managers in Higher EducationDisney World launched MagicBands in 2014. These sensor-laden wristbands are worn by visitors to streamline their visit across 43 square miles of theme park attractions – from ordering food, to reserving rides in advance.

These MagicBands wirelessly communicate with devices across the park, helping Disney track the activities and payments of approximately 40 million annual visitors, and optimize over 240,000 staffing schedules. This $1 billion investment is a high-profile example of how the Internet of Things (IoT) can impact consumers and businesses.

IoT is also disrupting facilities management in higher education. In fact, the technologies and forces driving IoT are redefining the strategic role that facility managers play within the leadership structure.

Disruption in Facilities Management

In recent years, the role of facilities management has expanded from maintenance management only, to include customer service, emergency preparedness, environmental stewardship, and sustainability, and even areas of finance and human resources.

While facilities management within higher education has adopted technology at a slower pace, there are examples of IoT in play at educational facilities, showing that change has begun. Educational institutions are responding to trends such as:

  • a student preference for collaborative learning spaces (both physical and virtual)
  • the pervasiveness of student-owned mobile devices
  • the tragic rise of threats both on campus and in cyberspace

To enable your department to serve an IoT-enabled campus, there are 3 ways you can use this IoT disruption to drive strategic value to your campus community.

1. Connect to Your Organization’s Mission

For institutions with budget constraints, energy conservation has been a popular use-case for IoT. Another area has been tracking space utilization – how often a specific room is occupied, and how much the equipment in that room is used. IoT helps visualize complicated data spread across hundreds of buildings – especially on higher education campuses with multiple large buildings.

2. Break the Organizational Silos

Facilities teams should be empowered to put data analytics to work and provide better information for cross-department decision-making. Using dashboards and real-time reporting, facilities teams can take ownership of these conversations to steer campus investments in the right direction.

3. Build a Secure Infrastructure

IoT readiness is largely dependent on reliable broadband infrastructure and technology investments. “Big Data” on campus is unavoidable and necessitates the right foundation for data storage and security.

The increased connectivity and data capture that takes place in smart buildings increases risk. The most important decision facility owners and managers can make is to build in cybersecurity and data protection for the IoT age.

Currently, industry standards are minimal or non-existent regarding standardization of data integration and management for facilities managers. In the future, more stringent standards will need to be implemented to ensure that data integrity remains secure. 

Shape, Drive, Manage and Control Your Facilities

With an IoT-enabled infrastructure, facility management is now more than just managing buildings or the operational aspects of procurement and distribution of equipment and assets.

As facility managers, you’re expected to be both the sources of information as well as the (many) users of that information to drive strategic decision-making and overall business objectives. Preparing your facilities management team for the evolving challenges ahead requires you to extend your sights from the control room to the board room.

Combining IoT, analytics, and mobility with the power and value of data sharing is changing facilities management in higher education and can seem overwhelming. With one of Accruent’s dedicated solutions, you have the power to shape, drive, manage and control your facilities without the disruption being significant.

No matter what solution you choose, times are changing, are you ready?