Building a University of the Future

Improving Asset Management and Reducing Risk

The university currently needs to renew and maintain the exterior roofs of more than 90 buildings on several different campus sites. To make this process more efficient, the GIS team created a web mapping application that allows editing, updating, measuring, and reporting on government funding spent on reroofing the campus. Using ArcGIS, the team is now able to more effectively track life cycles and warranties of the roofing materials, which can potentially lead to thousands of dollars in savings on roofing jobs. Data on structures reported to the government is now documented using an accurate spatial and temporal method that provides strong accountability for how government money is spent. GIS has virtually eliminated the need for manual roof measurements that cost both time and money, as well as pose a potential safety risk.

From a risk management perspective, the university has also used ArcGIS to enhance public safety. Using a current model of the campus and incorporating up-to-date floor plans, emergency preparedness and evacuation plans were developed. Models and processes were discussed with local authorities and emergency responders to generate a map standard that was distributed to these stakeholders. The safety team created different scenarios and determined several possible routes for building evacuations. These plans were posted on a central website to help fire wardens understand the proper evacuation protocols. Future plans to integrate live security camera feeds into a secure campus web dashboard would allow the creation of a mobile command and control center.

ArcGIS was even used to design external lighting models for the university's safety walk programs. These models estimated ground illumination based on the type of light fixtures and any interference caused by vegetation or building shadows. Maps were then generated and given to grounds personnel to take corrective measures in illuminating unsafe areas.

Enhancing the Campus Experience

To help students and visitors easily find their way around campus, the university developed an interactive room-finder application using institutional data. Users can input the building name and room number they wish to find, and the application generates a detailed map showing the floor plan with the desired room highlighted. Visitors can look up their destination using the online tool and determine the nearest parking area before arriving on campus. This enhances visitors' experience and helps them save time.

The interactive room finder will soon become available on mobile devices. Users will be able to take a picture of a wall marker to determine their current location and then enter their new destination. The map will show several route options—shortest path, indoor or outdoor routing, elevator access for the handicapped, or stair access for those who want more exercise.

Another future project will use administrative data to help students select classes based on spatial proximity. An application is being developed that will allow students to enter their ID numbers and generate maps that show their classroom locations, as well as the proximity to the next class, based on a specific time and day. This will help students familiarize themselves with the campus and select a schedule that offers reasonable travel times between classes.

 "GIS technology offers endless opportunities for our processes to grow," says McCaffrey. "Processes that used to take weeks can now be done in minutes. Being able to see the entire picture at once is an option we've never had before. GIS allows us to plan at a much higher level than we could have ever imagined. Now, we look for new ways to view scenarios and come up with better ideas to manage them."

With all the efficiencies gained in their research, institutional, and administrative processes using Esri technology, the University of Calgary earns an A for GeoDesign and is well on its way to becoming a university of the future.

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