Facilities management decisions are often complex.  They require information sourced from a variety of different systems and formats.  Location can be used as a type of organizing index to make information easier to understand.  Maps are easy and intuitive interfaces that can help users understand otherwise complex relationships.  In fact, using location to organize your facilities information and interactive mapping applications to publish that data multiplies the value of your facilities information.

Multiplying the Value of Information

One of the best papers I have read related to the overall value of information is Measuring The Value Of Information:  An Asset Valuation Approach by Daniel Moody and Peter Walsh in Melbourne, Australia.  In this paper, they describe “the Seven Laws of Information” which determine how information behaves as an economic asset.  Each of these laws merits its own blog post, but the one I want to focus on today is Law #5.  This law states that “The Value of Information Increases when Combined with Other Information”.  From their paper:  “Information generally becomes more valuable when it can be compared and combined with other information. For example, customer information and sales information are each valuable information sources in their own right. However being able to relate the two sets of information together is infinitely more valuable from a business viewpoint.”
Value of Info Combined

Putting Theory Into Practice

One of the best examples of this law in practice is an implementation we did for a school district.  The district had won a school safety grant and we implemented InVision Secure to tie together their automated access control system, their CCTV camera system, and their intercom system into one map-based web application. This integration made it much easier for users to access multiple systems through an intuitive interface.  This is an example of how GIS multiplies the value of your facilities information.  The web application was also shared out to the County dispatch center so that they would have access to the information albeit with restricted permissions.

Rinse and Repeat

After successful deployment in the security operations center, there was some money left over from the grant and we were asked to integrate with their school scheduling system (eSchool Plus) to help the space planners in the district identify opportunities to increase their space utilization.  This integration allowed the space planners see the results of their scheduling activities on the floor plans and better understand opportunities to increase space use.
These are two great examples of combining data from different systems together to deliver information that is more valuable through combination and easier to understand because of the map-based interface.  But the best was yet to come. Once we had complete the scheduling integration, we went back to the school safety folks to show them the results and let them know that their excess grant funding had been put to good use.  While they were glad to hear that the space management group had benefited from the integration, they also wanted to make sure that they could get access to the scheduling information in their school safety app.  Understanding which classrooms were occupied and where there might be special needs students in the event of an incident is incredibly valuable information to have when directing first responders in buildings that they may not be intimately familiar with.

No existing systems were harmed in this implementation

It is important to point out that there were no systems replaced in this example.  The floor plans continued to be maintained for their original purposes.  The planning users continue to use eSchool Plus as they always have.  The safety and security systems continued in place uninterrupted.  The value of the information from those various systems combined in a simple map-based interface, however, increased exponentially.  Essentially, it is this combination that multiplies the value of your facilities information.  The key was to use location as the organizing principle for data aggregation from several sources and the simplicity of a map-based web application to help easily understand the information in combination.  This is essentially what our InVision products are all about.