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Tim Russell answers FAQs on space planning

Campus Space Planning: 4 FAQs

  • William & Mary Director of Space Planning Tim Russell recently addressed an audience of his peers and talked about ROI derived from Occupancy Analytics.
  • As a Lambent Spaces customer focused on campus space planning, Russell leverages Wi-Fi for internal and external reporting requirements.
  • Check out some highlights from Russell’s conversation with Lambent Chief Strategy Officer Julie Roberts, and find more detail in the full webinar recording.

Campus Space Planning Requests

Q: What’s the range of campus space planning requests that you’re getting in a semester or over the course of a year?

A. MACRO SPACE REQUESTS – We were in the middle of a building boom here [at William & Mary] with a master plan. So we had a lot of macro requests. And one of the things that we’ve been looking for – as we’re moving forward – is being able to look at the utilization resources of the buildings that we have now currently. And if we’re using those resources as best we can.

MID-LEVEL SPACE REQUESTS – Then we kind of had mid-level campus space planning requests. As most of you know, probably one of the most difficult parts of space planning is swing space, when you’re moving place to place. And utilization data really becomes important to find out how often spaces are being used, because – when we’re trying to cut costs and not have to go and rent other buildings off campus – if we have spaces on campus that can go ahead and hold that saturation of swing space. And that really goes to the bottom line.

MICRO SPACE REQUESTS – And lastly, we get the micro ones. [For example], we have a number of houses. And some of those houses are full, and some of them are not. Being able to look at that data allows us to really go ahead and see, where can we combine houses? Where can we go ahead and create different spaces? So I get the full gamut of space requests.

Impact of Hybrid on Campus Space Planning

Q. Can you talk a little bit about what you experienced during the shift of the last three years, and how it’s changed that day-to-day work?

A. What we’re finding is that potentially having clusters of hybrid work zones seems to be the best idea – as well as some hotel spacing.

We’ve been working to say, if you’re not in [your office] that much, you don’t need that much space, maybe we can go ahead and use it as hoteling space. And we’ve met with some resistance. But on other hand – we found some others who have been happy to go ahead and say, ‘ Let’s go ahead and use that model.’

I think that the real big thing that happened is that there was a gap in that utilization data.

That is a theme that we hear a lot. Folks have always had a sense of where people are supposed to be on their campuses. Where do we have classrooms registered? Where do we have offices assigned? But that real sense of utilization, certainly in the light of that new dynamic campus – where and when we are all going to campuses or going to work – seems to have become more important.

Explaining Occupancy Analytics on Campus


Q. I’d love to hear how you navigated conversations on campus space planning so that people understood the benefits to their individual departments.

A. One of the unexpected results of this that our Wi-Fi person in charge of the infrastructure has asked to be one of the leading users because she wants to make sure that the data she’s getting is reflected by a secondary source.

And so that was something we hadn’t come up with that seemed to be pretty good and has worked pretty well. But the other thing that occurs when you’re looking at this utilization data is that it becomes really important to us from a finance point of view.

How well are we using our buildings? Are we supporting the mission of the college? Are we supporting the faculty and students? Are we allocating our resources the best way possible we can to those buildings that need it?

And there are different factors that you can put together in a formula, but the utilization data was always missing. All we had was the occupancy that was given to us by the registrar for one classroom – or we were relying on someone walking around and getting actual numbers.

So putting all those things together really becomes important when we’re putting a budget together to send to the state to say that if you want continued upkeep, this is what the maintenance reserve number needs to be. And so that has huge implications.

Wi-Fi v Sensors for Campus Space Planning

Q. Can you talk about the data sources you are using – and why?

A. We felt that moving fowards with Wi-Fi, which was infrastructure that existed, made sense. The Wi-Fi also is not proprietary – as a lot of the sensors are.

So when we looked at cost, we looked at this: If we have to add more Wi-Fi, that’s something we can work with our IT department on.

And then IT really felt comfortable with the anonymity of the data going out on the Wi-Fi. And so, as we wanted to move forward, it was kind of about getting everyone’s input to an agreement. We felt if we went forward [with Wi-Fi] with more agreement, that we would be more successful – and that’s what happened.


Portions of this transcript were edited for clarity. You can listen to the entire Chaos to Clarity: Occupancy Analytics for Campus Space Planning recording here.

To learn more about how Lambent Spaces is helping Higher Education campuses and Corporate Real Estate leaders, reach out today to talk to one of our solution experts.

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