NFMT Women In Facilities Management 2022 Coverage

women on a zoom call

The May Women in FM annual (virtual) event, hosted by NFMT and sponsored by Lambent, brought together leading female voices in the field of Facilities Management for a panel discussion on their experience coming up in the industry, their strategies for success, and the ways they bring their whole selves to bear on the profession. 

 The event attracted more than 200 attendees.

Today’s FM career track draws on a much wider breadth of experience than it once did – that’s everyone from property managers to sustainability experts and specialists in urban informatics – and yes, the people who deal with burst pipes. 

“If a pipe burst – like it did yesterday – I’m the one that is going to be on hand,” explains Nicole Sherry, Director of Field Operations for the Orioles and one of only two women in MLB history to hold that title

To Sherry, the legendary field at Camden Yards is like her other child. “It’s like I have two children that really need a lot of attention and I try my best to teach my crew everything that I do so that if I need to be out for whatever reason, they can step right in without any harm to the field.”

The 24/7, 9-1-1 nature of FM jobs may not have changed much since Facilities Management titles were introduced 50 years ago– but Sherry is among the many women who are transforming the industry.

“So, it’s loving problem-solving, loving buildings, loving people, loving dynamic environments and challenges.”



Director of Facilities Diana Ortiz Burns brings more than a decade of experience in operations management and environmental sustainability to the Meridian International Center, a Washington, D.C. – based nonprofit. 

“We’re always going to be different in this industry, and I think I’ve realized personally – that’s a thing I’m really embracing – how I’m different, and why that’s awesome.”

As the field grows more diverse – in terms of skill sets, backgrounds, personalities, race, gender, and all the ways diversity can be represented – the greater the opportunity for the career and the titles associated with it to have the greatest impact, says Ortiz Burns.

“So, it’s loving problem-solving, loving buildings, loving people, loving dynamic environments and challenges.”

“It’s not just all about building operations or events or moves or project management. There’s just something new every single day.”



“I never thought that facilities were my dream career going into it,” said Wendy Libert, Senior Facilities Manager at the American Institutes for Research. 

“It has turned into a dream career because [it has changed] and I’ve never been bored with it. There’re so many different directions you can go.

It’s not just all about building operations or events or moves or project management. There’s just something new every single day.”

Ericka Westgard, Vice President of Operations at C&W Services, a facility services company with more than 600 customers, set her sights on her career path early, earning a B.S. in Facilities Management. 

As a student, she says, “I probably didn’t really get the full understanding that as a facility manager you’re the one that’s going to be running towards the fire when everybody else is running outside.”

Westgard’s career remains exciting in part due to new challenges, and new technologies.

 “At one point, it [FM] was probably viewed as more of a support-type role – or more of a functional role.” Today, she says high-performing FM leaders are viewed as an “innovative, core competency.”


The importance of mentorship was central to the NFMT panel discussion. Not just for networking, but for honest feedback, and a confidant when workplace dynamics are challenging.

“It’s definitely helped me personally,” says Ortiz Burns. “I had men and women who really took me under their wing, and I wouldn’t be here without them.”

What’s some advice they’d give their younger selves, or anyone following in their footsteps? For starters, take care of your own mental and physical health before attending to the physical properties and spaces you’re responsible for maintaining and improving. 

Develop a global awareness – whether it’s learning a second language, or developing a new understanding of ways to increase DE&I on the teams you manage. Learn new technologies by asking for training and support so some work can be automated or completed remotely. And bring your whole self to work, even if it means saying you need a break. Vulnerability during intense times can help facilities management teams know they are part of a team that prioritizes employee work-life balance. Also:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Trust your instincts, even early on.
  • Train your team to feel empowered.
  • Find a mentor – be a mentor.
  • Search out supportive leaders and organizations.

And, from Julie Johnson Roberts (no surprise) a plug for data as a way to level the playing field.

“It’s not just women’s voices that could be discounted. It could be a more junior employee could be someone new to the team – who might have a great perspective. We want to give people data so that they will be the most informed people at the table when it comes to planning our smart spaces.”

To learn more about how Lambent helps facilities management teams, schedule time with one of our experts today

A Software-First Approach To Counting People

people in between an office presentation

Smart space management has elbowed its way to the top of priority lists at corporate office buildings and higher education campuses – any location where space is at a premium – in 2022. 

From space realignment following COVID-19 shutdowns to long-range visions for flexible, sustainable spaces, space planning teams are looking at ways to modernize and improve their current strategies to counting people.

A recent report on the top 8 CIO priorities named shaping the new workforce or Coping with Covid, as a continuing theme. And smart space planning – harnessing time and space data – is grabbing a lot of headlines as geospatial insights and analytics show their value across departments. 

The pressure is on, and as experienced FCP (Facilities and Capital Planning) professionals can tell you – that’s when mistakes are made. 

When competing stakeholders are frantic, and time is running out for annual commitments, or it feels like the budget set aside for smart space planning could disappear, that’s when poor decisions are made. 

“We encourage people to consider an AI software strategy they can get up and running quickly – without having to lean on H&H (hardware and hires) habits.”


“We hear again and again that a request came down for improved data – specifically around occupancy for space planning – and oftentimes we hear customers say they felt rushed,” says Madelaine Moeke, Director of Insight and Analytics at Lambent.

“They rush to add to their list of hardware purchases, or to hire external analysts for space studies – before exploring a strategy that could be more scalable. We encourage people to consider an AI software strategy they can get up and running quickly – without having to lean on old H&H (hardware and hires) habits.”


Leveraging existing technologies such as badging systems, Wi-Fi, sensors, or cameras, the Lambent space analytics platform can usually provide occupancy numbers in about one-third the time it takes with an approach limited to a strategy that includes only hardware. That’s about 6 weeks compared to 18 weeks.

That number surprises people. The advantage of smart space occupancy analytics is that you can start assessing strategies to counting people much more quickly than you could with a hardware-first approach.

A 2021 McKinsey survey showed that companies had responded remarkably fast to adopt digital transformation plans that would have sat undone for years if they hadn’t been forced to see them as critical to their survival during a global pandemic. The good news is many of those decision-makers told McKinsey they believed those purchases would stick—if they continued to show business value. reported on the 7 hottest areas of digital investment for 2022 and cited machine learning, data science, and IoT Analytics as among the largest areas of interest. (New hardware landed and private clouds landed on the ‘cold’ list.) 


There’s a push to understand occupancy analytics in new ways, although seasoned professionals are likely already familiar with the chief benefits, including operational expenses. Lambent Chief Technology Officer Chris Lord hears customers asking questions about how existing data can be used to improve the overall experience in addition to utilization.

“They want to know how to reduce wasted space, save costs on new leases, and choose carefully when expanding physical footprints,” explains Lord.  “Space planning teams also want to see a strong visual representation of occupancy data over time. They are making big decisions, and they need actionable analytics to avoid presenting point-in-time data without historical perspectives or predictive capabilities.”


Experienced facility directors and strategic space planners will tell you that, while some of the demands on them are new–many of their problems have remained the same despite years of ‘hot ‘technology’ cycles:

  • Budgeting decisions are made without reliable data to influence them.

Easy-to-understand analytics can help quiet political battles over space and dollars.

  • Underutilization rates remain high.

Historical overlays and predictive analytics are critical to increasing utilization rates.

  • Siloed reports that pull from different departments.

Scalable software that pulls data and creates visual representations and reports from across a campus provides a single source of information.

Those problems don’t exist and persist because there’s a lack of data, but because organizational data isn’t put to work. It’s allowed to sit and increase exponentially, without increasing in value as it grows.

Those problems don’t exist and persist because there’s a lack of data, but because organizational data isn’t put to work. It’s allowed to sit and increase exponentially, without increasing in value as it grows.

Although most space planning teams are under pressure to reimagine and reshape their spaces, many of their chief challenges aren’t new. This can lead to an organizational reliance on the old way of doing things, rather than exploring a new topic like machine learning or AI software.

By using software to visualize space and occupancy data across an entire organization, strategic space planners are able to address underutilization and make more informed decisions about where to increase or expand space.

“The patterns of life in our workplaces have been disrupted, and will continue to change,” says Lord. “Space planning the now space dynamics – and you will need analytics that is both smart and nimble–in real-time and predictively.”

David Smentek is the Director of Partnerships at Lambent, where he has championed deployments at premier venues around the globe. For more information on Lambent partnerships, you can reach David at

To learn more about Lambent space analytics solution, you can visit our website.

Occupancy vs. Capacity: What Should You Be Tracking?

fans cheering

Are you selling your venue short by reporting only sell-out flatline metrics? Understanding the core differences between occupancy and capacity tracking can impact not only your food and beverage revenue but the value of sponsorship advertisements. 

There’s nothing more appealing than a sold-out event. It’s the epitome of success for sports and entertainment venues as it indicates high volumes of on-premise foot traffic. For venue managers, it’s also a flag that indicates the level of staff required to be on-site, inventory management, and the value of your advertisement placements.

 For a long time, we’ve understood capacity – how many we can fit – and occupancy – how many showed up for the game as clear indicators of success. It seems simple enough, but the advent of machine learning brings deeper insights through visualizations and predictive analytics that have the power to accelerate enhancements of the fan experience.

 So, exactly what happens when you look at occupancy data throughout the entire event to surface deeper insights? The next era of stadium technology is ushering in data like:

●      Peak periods of occupancy on the concourse throughout the duration of the event

●      Total concourse foot traffic patterns and the impact of opening two hours before a major event

●      Empty craft beer patios coinciding with long lines at higher-priced stations.

These are the types of data points the Milwaukee Bucks examined at Fiserv Forum during the 2021 NBA Championship series. With the benefits of AI and machine learning, we are able to surface deep insights that drive decision-making around fan experience and sponsor engagement.

Here’s an example: a sold-out, game three, NBA Championship event at x stadium has a maximum capacity of 18,000 seats. That’s 18,000 people with buying power. Each of those people will enter and exit the stadium through the main concourse.


During a championship basketball game, space analytics software captured a total of 90,000 visits to the concourse in six hours  five times the number of seats available for attendance. How could that be? Well, as a visitor enjoys the entire experience, they move through the concourse on their way to the shops, bathrooms and concession stands several times. When analyzed in comparison to other types of events, the total occupancy through your concourse figures can reveal and predict concession ROI.

Surfacing this number is more valuable to sponsors in understanding the true exposure to their brand. Sponsors understand the value of volume when it comes to ad placement and are willing to maximize their spend. Surfacing capacity instead of occupancy figures provides just a fragment of the total impressions available. Understanding the difference between these metrics is paramount; if there is any hesitancy towards these terms, or there’s relating to space occupancy, check out our definitions blog. Ultimately, this can validate ad spend to sponsors and partners by offering reports with accurate brand exposure and providing them with validation benchmarks for owners.


Venue operators and managers have historically run successful live events using occupancy as a percentage of capacity (how many arrived vs how many seats were available) as a main data point. That value is still a great way to kick-off event management but as the fan experience evolves, meeting the needs of venue attendees will too. In today’s world, point-of-sale is your smartphone, grab-and-go food and beverage kiosks are a norm, and the speed of gratification is ever-accelerating. A birds-eye view of space utilization can tell you how to map out your venue to optimize traffic flows, validated by historical data and predictive analytics.

When architects and design teams visualize space, they assume traffic patterns based on blueprints and design for efficacy around those assumptions. When we verify those hypothetical movements and fan behaviors through data, we are able to better optimize bottlenecks, address point-of-sale performance, or redirect movement for better flow – i.e., getting more people through lines faster – and ultimately improving the fan experience.

With dashboards that visualize your entire arena, spatial planning and optimization is more easily understood by everyone at your facility. Back-of-the-house crews can use alerting features to identify bottlenecks and re-route traffic, cleaning facilities can become more efficient, and apps can surface queuing needs to attendees. Executives, operations managers, marketing teams, and financial analysts can strategize optimal ad placements and sponsorship tiers, validate costly redesigns, and project F&B revenue more accurately.

About the Author

Madelaine Moeke is Director of Insights & Analytics at Lambent, a company specializing in space analytics and crowd intelligence. She has been working in the sports industry for over a decade with a focus on turning raw data into actionable insights that drive everything from food and beverage sales to improving the fan experience. Her immersion in the sports venue management industry is helping premium entertainment venues redefine the next generation of live events.

Workspace Analytics Is Critical For Hybrid Work

office workspace in motion

Data indicates that organizations plan to continue a hybrid work model for the near term. A Mercer survey last May found 70% of companies said a blend of in-person and remote working will be the new normal.

But this hybrid model will also place greater onus on employers and facility managers to provide a healthy and safe working environment when employees are in the office.

That’s a tall order when 52% of employers said that they are only “somewhat prepared” to provide safe and healthy environments for their tenants and employees.

There are no easy answers to make workplaces, universities or other gathering spots safe and productive. But one important aspect of office and public health involves workspace analytics software, which helps organizations better safeguard workers in the office and make them more productive. 

Workspace analytics technology provides insight into employee density in a given physical space. By issuing alerts when the number of workers reaches capacity in a given space, the technology can ensure that workers’ social distance from one another. The technology can also queue up cleaning services or other workflows as necessary when spaces are used. Workspace analytics can also integrate with other workplace scheduling and collaboration tools to schedule meetings, create capacity alerts, or to trigger follow-up activities.

Technologies such as Lambent have become increasingly critical to determining worker density, and environmental factors, such as building temperature, electricity used on a given floor or in a room. The software can enlist an organization’s existing cameras, sensors or other hardware, then derive data from these devices to track how many people have entered a facility.

We sat down with Chris Lord, Co-founder and CTO, to discuss the value of workplace analytics in organizations today.


Chris Lord: The pandemic that we’ve all lived through is probably one of the driving forces behind it. Two years ago, space utilization was an important part, but it wasn’t a necessary part. 

The pandemic has really shifted people’s thinking in terms of what is necessary [vis-à-vis a physical presence in the office].

 It’s forced us to reconsider how we use space [and to ask questions like], “When do we need to meet and why?” And “How often do we need to be in the office together?”

That’s really forced us to collect data to understand and ultimately to optimize what we do. Then the big questions are, “What is it that we’re trying to optimize?” and “Are we trying to optimize employee experience? Operational costs? Capital costs?”

You don’t just need data, you need the right data to inform the decisions you’re trying to make. 

In some cases, we need precise data to help with hot-desking [a shared-desk system for hybrid office/remote work models].

So, you may need that data to develop a hot-desking model, or you may need to understand overall utilization patterns and patterns of life within your space so that you can make coarse-grained decisions: “Do I have enough space or too much? Is it underutilized? That’s what’s driving a lot of corporate clients toward [workspace analytics] and where we obviously play a big role.


CL: We have a set of proven use cases that can help customers. That can direct the conversation, but at the end of the day, it’s really trying to understand what it is that [customers] want to do and what are the questions that they’re asking? 

So, the value of Lambent is that you get continuous information about your environment, and how it’s being used. It’s something that’s there all the time. Sometimes that requires a deeper conversation on the facility side. [Companies] are used to these one-off studies that are a point-in-time snapshot and given the rapid change around us, has a shelf life. 

A point-in-time study that [I] did two years ago has very little bearing on what [I] need to do today. We can provide the look-back to last month, last year, last quarter, but the value of it every day and that opens up new opportunities.

I like to talk about democratization [of data], taking our data and making it available to your employees, to tenants, to whoever needs to make a decision. Our vision was three years ago, four years ago, to be the Google maps of people, not cars: Being able to show you where people are at any point in time. That’s the democratization of data.


CL: Most people don’t have the time to swim in all the data. It’s not their job to be exploring data. What they need to do is figure out how to do what they’re doing better, faster, easier with fewer people at less expense than they did before. 

Most people don’t have the time to swim in all the data. It’s not their job to be exploring data. What they need to do is figure out how to do what they’re doing better, faster, easier with fewer people at less expense than they did before. 


The shift for us has been one of building our application, the set of features within the application, and through our partners to directly address what that looks like. Some of that is simple. So some of that is you know rather than present you a lot of charts and graphs, we present you the KPIs [key performance indicators]. So right at the top are the set of KPIs that tell you, what’s happening at a glance. Some of it is building in capabilities like alerting, right? Rather than having to let you look at the data and make a decision we’re just telling you about the decision that needs to be made, based on the triggers that are important to your organization to your environment. And so that’s, that’s one way, you know, you don’t have to be living in the dashboard. 

We can target the data experience to the persona—to a role, a function. When you come in you self-identify as I’m a facilities manager, “I’m in charge of operations, I have a staff that is there on game day, I am–whatever [the role] is. You identify, and then your experience is tailored to your needs. 

Then our software asks you, “What changes would you make if you had dynamic and new information all the time?” If I’m a university, I’m scheduling custodial services, if I’m an office place. I’m scheduling the same sort of thing, and I’m making determinations as to whether I clean these rooms, don’t clean these rooms, have to have more people on staff, because there’s more people there. All these things are things that we’re used to thinking of and doing in a very static way.


CL: Our earliest customers were in the university space. The safety and the security of students is foremost in [universities’] mind all the time, and we were an effective part of that. But those conversations opened up opportunities in better use of space. 

And they’ve also shifted into opportunities around, “How can we improve the outcomes of students?”  “Are we providing the right resources based on where they’re spending their time? “Are there things that we can learn about how groups of students are spending their time, respecting their privacy, that will inform better space and better information delivery to our students?” 

And so we started there. And now, sports stadiums are a huge customer for us, and other venues where we bring people together. People are their core business, right? And if people are your core business. you want to know where they’re spending their time, you want to know where those opportunities are. 

Establishing The Deer District With Robert Cordova

Industrial work area

“If you build it, they will come.” Well, now that CTO of the Milwaukee Bucks, Robert Cordova has established the 30-acre Deer District surrounding the FiServ Forum, how does he ensure that people will not only come to their event but think of the facility as the go-to meeting spot for Milwaukee? Cordova sat down with Stadium Tech Report editorialist, Paul Kapustka after his 2021 ALSD Conference panel to dig in. 

During the interview, Cordova discusses the use of crowd intelligence—essentially occupancy analytics—to uncover hidden patterns to crowd behavior. As he says “[it’s] what I call the uncommon sense. It’s the things you didn’t expect and that’s what you really want to use crowd intelligence to really help us do those heat maps so we can understand the behavior of the crowd for a variety of things, not just basketball.”

Lambent is proud to partner with the Fiserv Forum to bring actionable insights to the Deer District through historical occupancy and predictive analytics. We’re helping to uncover Cordova’s “uncommon sense” aha moments so Fiserv Forum can design the ultimate fan experience. 

Space Utilization: Defining The Basics

low angle shot of employee sitting

When it comes to reopening corporate spaces, there are still many unknowns. Should I renew my prior lease? Who will work full time in the office? Will they all get desks? But one thing is for sure: Space utilization will be top of mind for anyone managing an office building or campus.

Our glossary of Space Utilization terms, which includes occupancy and capacity, is helpful to keep handy as you assess the buildings and spaces you manage. And this year, facilities managers and space planning teams are likely to also year about something called occupancy analytics.


In its simplest terms, space utilization is occupancy divided by capacity as measured over time. Let’s say you know 150 people use the cafeteria each Monday 8 am-12 pm and your capacity for the space is 300. Well, this one is simple: cafeteria space utilization Monday mornings is 50%.

But that’s just the first layer. There are numerous ways in which space utilization can be influenced. How a space is used, for how many purposes, and how often its full capacity is needed, are all factors to consider. Facilities managers considering priorities for 2021 likely also want to look at things like crowd density and restricting occupancy to help meet safer social distancing standards.


Space occupancy is defined as the number of people in the office (or any space) at any given time. This is a simple one but perhaps the most important, especially at a time when the number of people can be limited due to restrictions around distance. For space occupancy, real-time metrics are invaluable, and AI can help surface instant views rather than relying on manual counts of each room or meeting space.


To measure underutilization, you’d have to know your capacity and occupancy over time and set a goal for acceptable utilization at your company. The biggest problem with underutilized space is obvious: you’re paying for it. When considering new leases, knowing your underutilized space metrics is crucial. When looking at space management software, look for options to see historical and predictive analytics to determine how and when you can avoid underutilization.


This is on everyone’s mind much more than it used to be. When space planners talk about density, they mean the number of people per square foot. But welcoming back students and employees to safe campuses means understanding density. That means real-time occupancy counts but also setting acceptable occupancy standards with new distancing expectations so that people are comfortable in large crowds. Many corporate property management advisors will tell clients to determine a density goal by predicting the number of people utilizing a workspace, and then multiplying it by the average square footage required by each employee (i.e., between 125-250 square feet). 


Peak usage allows facility managers to track which sector of the workplace – or any shared space – receives the most traffic. These space utilization metrics can show which spaces hold the most value at any given point in time.  Lambent do this by collecting real-time data from wi-fi and cameras to provide a historical overlay to show how a space is used over time.


In the new flexible workspace, everyone is talking about hot-desking – a system that limits the number of desks in the office space. This means multiple employees will use the same physical workstations at different points in the day in order to limit contact and maximize space. To determine if you need a hot-desking option, space managers should have a clear understanding of their space utilization and density figures.


In 2022, monitoring occupancy is a top priority for many teams, and understanding what occupancy analytics means will help them get off to a good start. For help defining Occupancy Analytics, we asked Lambent CTO Chris Lord to answer two key questions about it.

Chris Lord: When we talk about analytics in this context, it’s all about understanding patterns of life. It’s understanding how people are using your space over time and then using that information in order to drive business value and decisions.

There are many dimensions that occupancy analytics can inform. There’s the classic operation use; this could be help-desk staffing, security staffing, custodial staffing. Make sure you’re doing it at the right time with the right number of people based on how people are using a space. It can be long-term, like capital planning or deciding whether or not to renew a lease.

Overall it helps inform whether you have too much, or too little space, or the right kind of space… 

The information we extract from patterns of life can inform major spatial decisions in the workplace that ultimately should lead to greater employee satisfaction.

“The information we extract from patterns of life can inform major spatial decisions in the workplace that ultimately should lead to greater employee satisfaction.”


Lambent employs two layers of analytics. The first takes high-volume real-time sensor streams and disparate data sources and combines them into a cohesive view of people and movement in space. This work relies on a lot of machine learning techniques and models.

The second layer uses that data to understand the patterns of life in space, and to combine it with contextual data (like weather or how space is allocated/reserved/scheduled) to extract insights that can directly drive business decisions about staffing, resource allocation, or space utilization.


Chris Lord: Capacity is a static measure of how many people a space can support under a set of conditions (varies for an auditorium vs conference room vs coworking vs hallway) and, if unspecified, can be inferred from use and size. 

Occupancy is a point-in-time measure sampled over time and density is a function of occupancy and space or capacity.

Analytics can be done with either occupancy or density because they represent how something changes over time. 

For more on safely reopening offices and workspaces against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, read the Lambent blog found here.

Lambent uses AI and machine learning to manage crowds, foot traffic, and wait times throughout professional sports venues, higher education institutions, and corporate campuses. To learn more about Lambent connect with our Sales Team at

Stadium Innovation: Supply Chain Issues Make No-Hardware Solutions A No-Brainer

scene from a game night

A new Front Office Sports Special Report highlights this year’s huge hardware supply chain issues as a driving force behind stadium operations teams looking to IoT solutions to meet technology innovation goals.

The report, titled IoTs Impact on the Sports Economy, cites a McKinsey report on the growing influence of the IoT market, and points to a Bloomberg article on the growing number of out-of-stock hardware and technology items. 

Front Office Sports also highlighted the Lambent intelligent software solution, and deployments at premier venues such as Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, as a way for stadium operators to drive value with IoT technology.

Front Office Sports predicts the category of Stadium Intelligence has emerged as one of the top ways IoT will influence the sports and stadium markets.

Here are some additional key excerpts from the report:

  • The IoT industry could provide outsized returns in the sports and sports adjacent industries over the next decade.
  • Manufacturers and advertisers alike are struggling to deal with the various supply chain issues across the board including truck driver shortages, port delays, and outright factory closures. 
  • Lambent provides a direct use case for potential sports and entertainment specific functions. The company’s software allows for smarter decisions related to crowd size, space utilization, security, maintenance, and fan experience while providing easy access to valuable data trends for space management.  

You can read the complete report here, and you can find out more about how Lambent is helping premier customers like the Milwaukee Bucks, LAFC, and the Cleveland Cavaliers harness visitor data and transform their stadiums with deep insights into fan and crowd behavior by scheduling a quick demo.

To learn more about how we are helping partners and clients around the globe, check out this blog from my colleague David Smentek Real World Crowd Intelligence at Your Campus or Venue. 

Curious about how Lambent helps stadiums, corporate real estate, and higher education campuses do more with the data they have? Reach out today to connect with a sales specialist and learn more.

AI as Infrastructure: The Future of Stadiums

icons on a stadium view image

Due to our success in premier sports venues such as the Fiserv Forum and teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks, we are partnered with the Sports Innovation Lab (SIL) to help venues better understand how fans and technology interact with venues. Chris Lord, Lambent co-founder and CTO, is featured alongside SIL stadium partners in SIL’s latest research project – dedicated to using AI to plan, build and expand stadiums.

Hear what Lord has to say about the democratization of data, and how we’re empowering venue managers to make ROI-related decisions relating to crowd management. You can also check out the entire report for key takeaways on how AI is empowering smart stadiums.



AI is technology that has been and will continue to work in conjunction with humans to improve overall human performance. Artificial intelligence leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind (IBM, 2021). Robert Muehlbauer, Senior Manager of Business Development at Axis Communications described artificial intelligence in its simplest form as using a machine or a computer to do tasks that a human would. The benefits are myriad and significant—with AI and computation, we can make workflows quicker and more efficient. Over the years, popular conceptions of AI and Machine Learning have been shaped, for better or worse, by depictions in popular media such as film, television, games, and beyond.

Sometimes presented as a seemingly endless futuristic possibility space, sometimes presented as a great threat to humanity, AI captivates popular imaginations. Not surprisingly, the realities of AI and ML do not conform to popular media depictions. AI is neither a technological panacea nor an existential threat. AI and ML are computational tools that have the power to make us more efficient and to make us smarter. At the end of the day, AI and Machine Learning exist to make our work and our lives easier and better.


The thrill of standing shoulder to shoulder with other fans, on your feet as the game clock expires, as your team buries the buzzer-beater, is inimitable and irreplaceable. It’s this feeling of shared experience and the “power of togetherness” that keeps live sports, with attendant fans, a primary pillar of the sports industry. The global COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 that continues to shake the world has not only forced the sports industry to take a closer look at how we construct and design our live sports entertainment, it has also shaken the confidence of fans who continue to want the power of togetherness but who harbor concerns about the safety of attending live sports. The“return to play” has forced the whole of sports, from the professionals producing the contests to the fans adoring the action, to rethink our priorities and the role technology plays in bringing us all back together.

It is incumbent upon stadia operators and sports properties to change their thinking about the design of fan experience, and new pandemic-generated challenges that need to be addressed to ensure fan health, safety, and security. AI provides a suite of technologies, specific to problem-solving. that will play a foundational role in this change. Today, because of the rapid evolution of AI technologies, we can consider the impact of AI on a larger scale. AI is the future of sports stadium infrastructure—replacing traditional building and repair practices and implementing data solutions to create a live sports environment that is healthier, safer, and more secure for fans. To address the essential needs of fans, sports venues need to reimagine AI technologies as a new form of infrastructure, solving problems that used to be addressed through brick, mortar, pipe, and personnel.

To address the essential needs of fans, sports venues need to reimagine AI technologies as a new form of infrastructure, solving problems that used to be addressed through brick, mortar, pipe, and personnel.


AI and Machine Learning are being implemented in every facet of security. Physical and cyber security will continually be a main focus for venue operators and fans. Knowledge is power, so the more that technology knows, the better it will be able to output improved processes. In return, when the knowledge is made public, fans are able to digest it and change their behaviors to feel more secure. CTO and co-founder of Lambent, Chris Lord, spoke on the democratic nature of data and the importance of understanding the problem, resources, partner companies, and areas to scale in order to be successful. The idea that data is a democracy, and understanding the problem, resources, and partner companies you want to scale can differentiate success.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are no longer “nice to have” technologies in the smart venue network, they are increasingly essential. AI and ML are infrastructure—critical systems that, together and as part of the broader infrastructure of a venue, provide the platform for fan experience.

To learn more about how Lambent helps facilities teams deliver on priorities like this, schedule time with one of our experts today.

Why DIY? Reasons to Buy or Build

people at office workspace

CIOs and other organizational decision-makers are looking past the so-called digital sprints of 2020 and planning on transformation technology efforts, according to industry analysts. But when it comes to transformational efforts, does it make sense to go it alone–that is, do it yourself?

Often, companies favor building software projects in-house, fearing that third-party solutions may not meet their specialized needs or be compatible with existing systems. The challenge is two fold: determining whether some of your IT staff has specialty skills, such as data mining or data visualization. And if you are lucky enough to have a large enough team to tackle a transformational technology, does it make sense to tie them up with one project?

When considering the age-old problem of whether to build or buy, you’ll get a different answer depending on the business landscape and project urgency. To determine whether to keep a software project in-house or search for a collaborative technology partner, it makes sense to look at the following four major factors: cost, control, connectivity, and maintenance. 


According to Gartner, global enterprise software spending is projected to climb 9% in 2021 to a total of around 4.2 trillion dollars. According to John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner, “This means building technologies that don’t yet exist, and further differentiating their organization in an already crowded market”.  CEOs are much more willing to invest in technology that has a clear tie to business outcomes, and less so for everything else, according to Gartner.

The challenge is that IT projects tend to exceed both time and cost estimates. In short, IT teams often find themselves wishing they had found a reliable software or solutions partner.  While purchasing software from a third party can sometimes have a higher upfront cost, it’s also a known cost for a product that is ready to use immediately or by a set date. As one Forester report put it, technology implementations – even those “really easy” software-as-a-service based implementations – are no different than the DIY home improvement project gone totally awry with surprise time and cost requirements.


One of the biggest appeals of building in-house is that the software can be customized. On the other hand, that approach can leave a company entirely dependent on its coders and developers to deliver a perfect product. And companies are often left with unusable code bases created by developers who no longer work at the company, meaning they might need to hire new developers to rebuild code from scratch or maintain a legacy codebase. When you build, you have 100% control of the software’s function. This comes, however, with weaknesses, as it creates a burden on IT teams, and also leaves them without the benefit of collaboration with dedicated developers who are focused solely on the type of software they are deploying or coding.


Each company has its own unique ecosystem of applications that all need to be compatible with systems beyond the company. Building your own solutions should help ensure total compatibility, something that isn’t guaranteed with all third-party vendors. It’s important to assess if a third party has pre-built APIs or an open-source platform that allows for integrations, or a way to leverage your existing systems.


When you buy software, SaaS vendors handle all the maintenance behind the scenes and usually roll the costs onto a subscription fee. It’s important to understand that these external vendors have hundreds of hours of experience setting up and maintaining their software. If you choose to build, you will be responsible for all the maintenance of your new software: managing the launch, resolving any bugs, training people to use the software, setting up passwords, etc. All of this maintenance will require increased bandwidth, and possibly additional staff. 


The Lambent AI-powered platform provides facilities and security teams with an accurate, real-time understanding of how many, and how often people are utilizing different spaces. The software enables smarter decisions related to crowd density, space utilization, safety, maintenance, and guest experience while also providing easy access to valuable data trends for ROI related to space management.  If you’re unfamiliar with spatial utilization and the terms surrounding it, check out our blog on some key definitions. If you are considering installing a space utilization software. For more on how spatial representation software can bring density data to life, check out our blog on spatial representations.

Layering our Lambent software over existing infrastructure turns data into actionable intelligence. Our software monitors occupancy and provided predictive analytics for space planning. We’re helping transform corporate and higher education campuses into smart spaces.

To learn more about how Lambent helps facilities teams deliver on priorities like this, schedule time with one of our experts today.

5 Questions Employees Are Asking Around Office Reopening Policies

people working in office with masks on

As the effects of the COVID19 pandemic continue to be felt deep into 2021, companies are still wrestling with the problems of reopening. Thousands of companies abandoned their physical offices in the first couple of months of the pandemic, despite many thinking about their office reopening in a few weeks or a few months. People were shocked to think we’d be out past the first September. With buildings empty, many companies even considered selling or leasing out their space but there was no one to rent the space to. That space, however, is ready to be put back to use. As employees plan their return to their respective physical offices, they should be considering a set of questions regarding the safety of their workplace.


For employees, the fear around returning to the workplace safely may have less to do with the office itself, and more with their means of getting there. In major cities like San Francisco, New York, and Boston, commuters rely heavily on mass transit. During the peak of the pandemic, Time described public transport like buses and trains for COVID19 as ‘apocalyptic’. Some passengers don’t use masks, and bus drivers can sometimes ignore capacity limits, leading to potentially dangerous overcrowding. Even if masks are worn and drivers are mindful of occupancy limits, it’s very understandable to still feel uneasy about using public transportation. In response to this concern, companies like Freemark Financial are given employees stipends for Ubers and Lyfts to ensure their employees are comfortable with their means of transportation. The question of whether ‘I have to come to the office’ is more often than not situational, and dependent on policies already in place at your company. 


Naturally, companies have begun to adopt a hybrid or flexible work model for their employees. These models are only gaining popularity, and according to GoodHire, 85% of Americans said they would prefer to apply for a job that guaranteed remote or hybrid working arrangements.

Understanding the difference between these two models is very important. A hybrid office allows employees to choose which days of the week they want to be in person, and which they want to remain at home. The hybrid model is particularly useful for limiting the total number of employees in the office at a given time. This number can be based on previously established occupancy thresholds determined by space occupancy data. Hybrid is still 9:00 to 5:00, whereas a flexible model has more lenient, less concrete hours. The flexible model allows an employee to step away from the office to tend to other manners. Leaving work at 3:00 to pick up your kids from school, for example, would be part of a flexible schedule.


If your company is allowing employees in person, there should be multiple measures in place to ensure their health and security. Your office can guarantee this is done safely and efficiently using AI and crowd management solutions. People counting software and occupancy heatmaps can be used to track overall capacity in different rooms. Real-time alerting can highlight whether a space is getting too crowded, or an entire floor is at capacity. Knowing that a hotspot is forming is extremely powerful for facilities staff, and making sure your employees are comfortable when they are in person. Sanitation schedules become smarter after seeing typical flow throughout a building, and security schedules can be more efficient after reviewing space use for events on the calendar. Employees don’t only fear their workspace, but equally their colleagues. A Deloitte survey confirmed that 91% of employees are concerned about masks, 89% social distancing, and 56% daily health confirmation. In order to maintain safety, 84% of employees surveyed would prefer some combination of the following protocols: 

  • Masks for all employees in the office.
  • Only being allowed back in the office with proof of a vaccine.
  • Capacity limits on the number of people allowed in the office.
  • Daily sanitizing of all workplace surfaces.

It’s only natural that employees will be hesitant about returning in person after so long, so having sound safety precautions in place is a must. 


It is very likely that your office space, and your own personal space, will look far different than it did before the pandemic. Facility managers should be prepared to repurpose and adapt space in order to maintain social distancing and safety for employees. In the new flexible workplace, companies are starting to use hot-desking– a system that limits the number of desks in the office space. This means multiple employees will use the same physical workstations at different points in the day in order to limit contact and maximize space. For more on hot-desking and maximizing your space, check out our space utilization blog.


If your team is curious, don’t leave them asking; talk about how your organization will help them navigate a new type of work. This question has divided many CEO’s, and is again dependent on your company’s policies. Jonathan Wasserstrum, CEO of the New York commercial-real-estate company SquareFoot, told The Atlantic, “I believe that work is better when most of the people are in the office most of the time together”. Wasserstrum would go on to say, “if somebody didn’t believe in the value of an office at least one day a week, they probably shouldn’t be at the company anyway”. Studying the efficiency of work from home is not a new concept. In 2010, Kimberly Elsbach, a management professor at UC Davis, interviewed 39 managers concerning their views on in-person and remote. The study found that there was a strong belief amongst managers that if you really wanted to move up in the company, you had to be in the office, and be seen in the office. This included coming in early and staying late in order to be noticed by management. If you are concerned about job security because of your work-from-home status, voicing these concerns to an advisor could be the best course of action. 

These are just five frequently asked reopening questions your employees may be wondering about. They certainly have others. The best thing that you as a leader in your organization can do is proactively communicate policies, implement safeguards around the spread of diseases, and ease their fears with as much guidance and assistance as possible.