Campus Space Planning Challenges to Think About This Fall

college student moves in with boxes

Universities are becoming aware of the need for more space as students get ready to return to campus for the fall term. As the semester approaches, space planners in higher education are at the center of disputes about space because there isn’t enough of it. They keep coming back to one central question: What has happened to campus space since universities sent students home? 

Everything from the design of buildings to their maintenance may need to change to fit a new framework. The goal of a higher education space planner is to improve the student experience, which requires a re-evaluation of conventional campus space planning. Here are some challenges that higher education institutions should think about now and in the foreseeable future.


As the fall semester begins universities find themselves overbooked due to increased enrollment. Lack of housing is one of the biggest concerns in higher education right now. Universities, without enough dorm space, are turning to hotels and even neighboring campuses to accommodate students.

While some overbooked institutions, such as the University of Tennessee and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte are using hotels as a means of housing their students. University of Iowa, on the other hand, reopened a residence hall it closed five years ago as temporary dormitories.

McCoy Real Estate had an interesting suggestion for the University of Arkansas, where enrolment has increased by approximately 1,000 students year over year. In a tweet, they advise parents of an out-of-state University of Arkansas student who does not have on-campus housing to buy a house for their child.

Purdue made the clever decision to purchase a four-story Aspire complex on State Street as an inventive solution to the housing problem. The big purchase is a necessary stopgap measure as they brainstorm long-term solutions for campus space planning.


The fight for the label “research university” has colleges drawing attention to their lack of labs and allocating space and resources to lab development in their master plans. Brown University responds to this need with a massive acquisition. In July of this year, Brown University acquired 10 properties in the Jewelry District from the Care New England health system, with intentions to construct a new laboratory. Brown wants to expand its research capabilities and be prepared for pandemics in the future. 

Brown University isn’t the only one in the quest for additional laboratory space. However, the question remains: how can higher-learning institutions add these types of buildings quickly and without significant expense? Adaptive reuse, a practice within facilities management of repurposing old space into new building types instead of a complete demo and rebuild, is a reasonable solution. Adaptive reuse can assist universities in converting existing facilities into sustainable and cost-effective laboratory space with little time and expenditure.


As campus footprints shrink, higher education space planners are in action to provide building occupants with the space they need. Room reservation technology only gets them so far – not all booked spaces get used in the end. Colleges turn to campus space planning teams to free up bookings or direct students to underutilized spaces. For instance, Thomas Jefferson University located in Philadelphia, has a smart space management team, Space Management & Room Reservations (SMRR). They schedule events and classes in individual spaces on campus and work to accommodate non-academic events.

University of New Hampshire and Northeastern University are also in the running to validate rooms and space available on-campus for events and meetings. The need for validation arises because faculty members believe they require privacy from time to time. According to Margaret Serrato, workplace strategist at AreaLogic Workplace Strategy, the need for privacy and a quiet place to do heads-down work that is accessible to students is important. Providing the right workspaces to accommodate the ways that individuals work is a reasonable resolution.


The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, one of our customers, used our software to help them decide library staffing hours and cleaning schedules, among other things. Lambent Spaces enables customers to gain actionable insights and historical overlays for predictive analytics with spatial intelligence. With our software, customers can understand estimates of peak usage and density to best optimize their space. 

​​Nupur Patra contributes to the Blog and Social Media channels for Lambent. She is currently a Graduate Student at Northeastern University in the Digital Media program.

Collegiate Esports Need Spaces Too!

students using computers

Although a lot of parents argue that video games aren’t good for their children, it’s possible all that screen time may translate to college scholarship dollars. In the past decade, universities have integrated esports into their athletic departments and worked to recruit top-tier gamers across the country. 

An award-winning collegiate esports team could potentially entice students and help boost enrollment, and the  2018-19 school year data shows  200 colleges in the U.S offered $16 million in esports scholarships

They may not need ice-cold arenas, but these players don’t sit alone in their rooms. In order to create an optimal experience, higher education facilities leaders have to find the proper space and equipment for collegiate esports teams to practice and compete.


 League of Legends is a multiplayer online video game known to be one of the largest esports both worldwide and at the collegiate level. The 2018 League of Legends World championship generated over 26 million hours of viewership, and the finals drew over 2 million viewers alone.

According to technology consulting firm Activate, esports will reach about 800 million viewers worldwide by 2024.  In total, esports produced a whopping  $2.7 billion in revenue in 2020 and is expected to nearly double by 2024. 


In order for these teams to succeed, players need the proper equipment and space to practice and compete. These spaces are referred to as “arenas”, but they aren’t nearly as expensive to create as traditional sports arenas. Many of these arenas include desks with gaming chairs and monitors for players as well as large screen monitors for fans to watch their teams compete. 

Because esports is a relatively new collegiate program, many universities are utilizing old classrooms and spaces to accommodate esports rooms and arenas. But UC Irvine is one example of a university that went all in and created a space entirely devoted to esports. Their 3,500-square-foot arena is the first of its kind, housing 36 iBUYPOWER computers, Logitech gaming gear, and gaming chairs. The arena also has a “Console & Community Corner” where clubs and organizations can host events and meetings and even demo virtual reality.


Just last year, the University of Warwick in the UK announced that they plan to invest in a massive esports center on their campus. The center is meant to give players a space to practice their skills and even allow for research into the world of esports – combining sports and academics. The center will also serve as a venue for future esports events. What makes this space so unique is that it’s configurable – this allows it to be taken apart and moved to larger locations for bigger esports events on campus. 

Software from Lambent helps universities evaluate their spaces in order to create recreational facilities like esports arenas. By collecting space utilization data, campus leaders can pinpoint where space is underutilized and decide how to improve its usage.  

In 2020, one of the top-ranked college esports programs was at the Maryville University of Saint Louis – and it’s not surprising that they won the 2016 League of Legends championship with a 40-0 record. The university offers a state-of-the-art practice facility with the best internet possible for low ping and high FPS (frames-per-second).

Want to learn more about Lambent Space Analytics Solution? You can visit our website or reach out directly to for a quick demo.

​​Alex Trotto contributes to the Blog and Social Media channels for Lambent. She is currently a Northeastern University student in her sophomore year.

6 Things Facilities Directors Will Tackle In 2022

office workspace visual

Directors of facilities are no strangers to the many struggles and responsibilities that come with their job titles, but the pandemic has introduced entirely new challenges. Already a member of upper facility management, their strategic outlook is now vital to successful return-to-office strategies. 

On top of their pre-pandemic responsibilities, facility professionals have to figure out how to create a safe and collaborative work environment, one that encourages employees to return to the office. It can be hard to limit a Facilities Director to-do list to just a few, but here’s our take on the top 6. 


Sustainability isn’t anything new for facilities directors, who are trained to think about everything from eco-friendly supplies to whether to expand corporate footprints.  A lot of that falls into the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) bucket, and the pandemic highlighted the importance of measuring environmental impact at every turn. High-performance buildings are often talked about in terms of energy and water efficiency, high-quality indoor environments, and conservative resource use. Some estimates say sustainability efforts can improve operating profits by up to 60%. And a focus on sustainability is appealing when it comes to softer ROI numbers since consumers and potential employees often prioritize sustainability, and want to buy from and work for companies that do as well. 


Hot desking has gained traction throughout the pandemic as a way for employers to reopen with less corporate space, or in newer spaces.  Although offices are beginning to fully reopen, hybrid office schedules – with employees in the office 2-3 days a week – are increasingly popular. So how is a facility management expected to support and navigate this new way of working? 

Many facilities directors utilize schedulers to allow employees to reserve desks ahead of time on a first-come, first-serve basis, and hot-desking and hoteling software is on the rise. But both of these rely on employees and collaborative teams utilizing their reserved spaces – that is, following through on their vision to bring teams in on certain days. The challenge lies in invalidating those occupancy requests and determining the number of desks and spaces needed over time. 


The post-pandemic hybrid work model has transformed how offices function. Facilities directors need a better understanding of which spaces are actually occupied and how to create a work environment that provides employees a sense of belonging and ownership. Creating occupancy reports using space utilization software is one way to do this. Occupancy analytics can help these directors determine employee density in existing spaces and decide whether office spaces are underutilized or not. These analytics can also integrate with other scheduling and collaboration tools to aid with any other space-related decisions. 


The pandemic has completely altered the way that people think about their office cleaning crews.  Facilities managers have to prioritize more thorough and oftentimes more frequent cleaning crews. The ability to communicate to workers that office spaces are professionally cleaned on a regular schedule is crucial if facility directors want to be able to persuade employees to come back to work. Most employees will be expecting to see communications around cleaning vs disinfecting and will want to know when a space was last cleaned. This can help with return-to-office choices, and help employees feel safer. 


Those of us who aren’t managing facilities don’t always fully understand how much goes into properly maintaining an office building, including how much budget needs to be assigned. These misconceptions can lead to maintenance repairs being deferred. 

Deferring maintenance changes the process from a proactive one to a reactive one. Reactive maintenance means the asset itself picking the time when it needs emergency service or total replacement. This can cause disruptions during peak occupancy hours or even a complete shutdown of the facility. Studies have shown that on average, for every dollar “saved” by deferring proper maintenance, there can be a four-dollar increase in future repair costs.  Today many facilities departments are at risk for deferred maintenance due to indecision about how and whether companies are reopening.


Offices have been left with a lot of underutilized space and less than enthusiastic employees due to the hybrid work model, so facilities directors must get creative in order to solve both issues. One way to do this is by designing flex spaces. 

Flex spaces involve creating spaces that are multi-purpose. Many businesses are replacing desks with couches and televisions in conference rooms to create more welcoming and inspiring spaces. This can help facility directors redesign the office to become a more efficient and collaborative space, subsequently boosting employee morale. Instead of separating different teams on various floors, creating flex spaces can unite teams and allow them to work more collaboratively in the office. 

In redesigning the new office space, the goal for employers is to create flexibility without adding any unnecessary space. Flex spaces are able to foster collaboration between teams while also utilizing rooms that would otherwise be left unoccupied. 

To learn more about how Lambent is helping CRE leaders make the most of their spaces reach out directly to for a quick demo.

Alex Trotto contributes to the Blog and Social Media channels for Lambent. She is currently a Northeastern University student in her sophomore year.

Bringing Them Back: Campus Management Focused on Risk Mitigation

students walking around the campus

Despite the surge in COVID cases over the recent months, colleges are determined to learn to coexist with the virus. Universities are now focused on adapting to and accepting the new normal in order to keep students engaged and re-enrolling. In a public announcement, Northeastern University’s Chancellor Ken Henderson stated that “as we move into this endemic phase of the pandemic, our job is to continue to control COVID effectively, not let COVID control us.”

“As we move into this endemic phase of the pandemic, our job is to continue to control COVID effectively, not let COVID control us.”



So how are smart campuses –or any campus for that matter–addressing Omni outbreaks as they prepare to bring students back for the Spring semester? 

Well, some colleges are strictly only offering online learning for the first few weeks including Harvard University which moved to remote operations until January 24. Others are completely delaying the start of the spring semester including Syracuse University which is resuming in-person classes also on January 24.

In order to allow in-person learning, schools are taking precautions to ensure the safety of their students and faculty. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that many schools are requiring vaccines for all students and employees at more than 1,000 colleges. Many are not only requiring students to receive both doses of the vaccines, but also the booster. 

The vast majority are also suggesting, some even requiring, that students get tested before venturing back to campus. Stanford University is advising that students get tested before traveling back to campus and urging them to stay home if they test positive. 

As students make their way to campus and in-person classes commence, universities are continuing to enforce mask mandates, routine testing, contact tracing, and quarantining in order to stabilize the rise in COVID cases. Northeastern University plans to remain open and continue to require all on-campus students to be tested on a weekly basis as well as mandate students to quarantine when testing positive or experiencing symptoms.


When you consider the messages coming out of Northeastern and other universities, they’re preparing for surges, whether relating to COVID or even other contagious diseases in years to come. The idea that the pandemic will downgrade to an endemic suggests the continuation of today’s healthcare concerns in micro-communities like college campuses. The expectations around sanitization, occupancy communications, and campus management have seeped into other areas of our experience and will continue long after the pandemic. Since in-person learning is crucial to any college’s success,  it’s essential to build occupancy analytics into the central data systems. 

The Lambent platform utilizes existing Wi-Fi, sensors, and cameras to produce a complete picture of how and when people occupy the spaces managed. The software issues alerts and help predict future space needs. 

Space utilization software has never been more useful than during a pandemic where occupancy is limited in most spaces, especially on college campuses. Our higher education customers are integrating Lambent into systems like class scheduling and registrar information to add context to occupancy analytics and bring their campus management into sharper focus. Enabled by AI, Lambent can help you bring students back –and keep them back–safely, building a tech-enabled, flexible campus.

Alex Trotto contributes to the Blog and Social Media channels for Lambent. She is currently a Northeastern University student in her sophomore year.

Importance of Coming Together in Covid: Student Co-Op Review

Company Team Photo

My student co-op search was no simple one; I spent months patrolling the Northeastern University database looking for the perfect fit. I had hoped to work in the sports department of a large newspaper, and when it didn’t pan out, I had to pivot to other options. Eventually, I stumbled upon Lambent, a Boston-based tech startup hiring co-op students in the area of social media marketing and blogging.

That was six months ago, and I knew very little about tech startups, and even less about ‘space analytics’. Yet I was drawn to the idea that Lambent technology enables better ways for us all to be together in the spaces where we work, and study—and even how we watch pro sports.

My first blog, which was published a few weeks after I started, was a considerable accomplishment for me personally, mostly because I knew a lot of knowledgeable readers would see it.  I wrote about something I’m passionate about, trends in stadium innovation. Researching the topic allowed me to familiarize myself with Lambent pro sports partners, like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks

During the full-time co-op, my colleagues always made themselves available to answer questions or help me with tasks that were new to me. I was able to be part of a team that saw an 86% increase in impressions on Linkedin within eight months, a 66% increase in follower growth on Linkedin, and launched a new website and brand. It was incredibly rewarding to see our social presence and influence grow.

A particularly impactful milestone for me was the all-hands (in person!) meeting in late September. Here are a few takeaways from the three-day company-wide meeting:

  • Company swag is real, and really cool! I would never have imagined an Lambent logo on a bag of M&Ms, mask, or ring light! Jokes aside, the Lambent branded items made me feel like the company was building its brand and that I was an important cog in a powerful machine.
  • My colleagues are interesting! I had the opportunity to put faces to names, and to get to know people outside of my marketing team. Every employee made a short introduction video, which aired between events. During these intervals,  I had the freedom to interact with colleagues in a more casual setting, where I learned more about people’s personal and professional backgrounds. 
  • Synergy! Listening to presentations from the other departments, particularly the sales team, helped me better visualize the company as a whole. My perspective had been entirely marketing oriented, but now I had a better understanding of how other departments rely on each other. 
  • Elevator Pitches, Love ‘em! I really enjoyed the sales pitch exercise, where each member of the sales team was tasked with pitching Lambent in under 30 seconds. Also, listening to the sales team sessions deepened my knowledge of  how and where the software is used.
  • Our Friends & Fans! One of the more moving events from the hand-on meeting was the ‘Why I Invested’ appearances.  I got to hear from some of the early investors who truly believed in the product. This included Isiah Kacyvenski, a former NFL player who would go on to co-found Will Ventures. And Rick Grinnell of Glasswing Ventures, who has seen many companies like ours meet their Series A fundraising goals and go on to bigger things. Listening to investors speak with passion and conviction reinforced my belief that we were all working toward an important goal.

I came into the co-op with limited social media experience but will leave it with a bevy of new skills on multiple social media platforms. My first week, I lacked confidence. After my first formal “corporate social share ”, my friends lifted me up by liking, commenting, and resharing it. Six months later, and without their help, I had played a major role in boosting Lambent social media presence across multiple platforms. With each passing week, I familiarized myself with the Lambent language. I wrote reports, engaged virtually with customers, helped build a social media presence, and published blogs relating to topics previously unbeknownst to me. 

I am immensely grateful for the opportunity Lambent presented me. I have learned so much about the world of social media, technology, and myself over the course of these last six months. As we all return to the office – and for me, school – in different ways, I can say with confidence that I landed in the right spot, even if it’s not where I intended to. 

Occupancy Analytics In Higher Education

a graphic showing growth with people in the background

When students returned to campuses and classes this fall, many colleges and universities found themselves at opposite ends of a housing crisis: a shortage of space for first-year students who deferred or didn’t enroll in a full course load during the height of the pandemic. Meanwhile, others struggled to fill empty dormitory buildings, with students. Schools like Middlebury College in Vermont offered students ski passes and equipment plus housing discounts if students moved off-campus. Meanwhile, other schools offered incentives like laundry facilities and room discounts to move into empty dorm rooms.

Lambent Sales Director Sue Bork talked to us about how AI is helping decision-makers at colleges and universities stay ahead of demands related to occupancy and utilization.


We allow our customers to use their existing hardware—such as Wi-Fi, access points, cameras, or sensors—whatever they might have pulled in data so that they can better understand how to use that space and how and when people are moving throughout different facilities. That means they can avoid the manual work of things like clicker studies and make faster decisions.

This information becomes incredibly helpful for many different organizations, or departments—whether it’s higher education institutions, commercial real estate, a corporate campus, or a professional sports area. People have been measuring occupancy for a long time, but now space analytics are helping them understand how occupancy translates to smarter leasing and scheduling decisions, and ROI.


From a higher education perspective, I talk to space planning teams who find this information so valuable. For example, from a facilities department standpoint, understanding when people are coming in and out of a building means you can staff that building properly, and make smarter leaser decisions.

Maybe you need to staff a library between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.—that’s when students are populating it the most. So that means we need to adjust maintenance, or cleaning, schedules. And staffing. What hours should you staff a help desk? The library is one of the first places the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) was able to see what we call actionable insights. Once they could see occupancy over time, they knew how to make scheduling changes. And lecture halls are a great use case. If you use historical overlay, you can actually see occupancy over time and say ‘Aha! Here’s solid evidence that we are falling short on space for a popular lecture hall, while another consistently leaves empty seats. Should we switch those two rooms?’

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security – or CARES Act – allows organizations to allocate the act’s funding to IT projects such as workplace analytics deployments to enhance workplace health and safety. Many institutions are using that second round of funding from the CARES Act with software like ours – to help with social distancing.


When [an organization is looking to] keep that social distance, especially with the resurgence of COVID that’s happening, you really want to make sure that you are keeping a minimum number of people in a building or a floor. So they set occupancy limits.

Then you can set alerts. When they see an actionable alert on a mobile device, they can say ‘ I know I can close those floors off, or be mindful of when people are leaving [the space] before I let more people in.’

In addition, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security – or CARES Act –allows organizations to allocate the act’s funding to IT projects such as workplace analytics deployments to enhance workplace health and safety. Many institutions are using that second round of funding from the CARES Act with software like ours – to help with social distancing.

We can work with sensors, and it’s one of our data sources. But we don’t require them, and it’s a critical advantage to our software-only solution, that you can deploy us and leverage your existing Wi-Fi, for example.


An intuitive dashboard is really important to us. The Lambent dashboard can display on a computer, it can be on a laptop, it can be on a mobile phone. It’s really crystal clear in terms of providing quick information, such as how many people are on campus or in each building. You can click on a building to see how many people are on each floor. 

We are surfacing anonymous visual representations of people, and since we don’t use any facial recognition, we’re able to alleviate privacy concerns.


We can work with sensors, and it’s one of our data sources. But we don’t require them, and that’s important. You always want to consider the cost of some sensors at scale; it’s a critical advantage to having a software-only solution. We find that, as you scale across large higher education campuses, software deployment is typically going to be far less costly than installing additional sensors. It’s also typically a quicker deployment.


It’s an open-architecture solution. We can pull in scheduling software. We don’t care what an organization is using—whether it’s Ad Astra, or, 25Live. We can tie it into a facility management system (FMS) or a homegrown system. 

A lot of times, we find the occupancy piece is missing from those software systems—and that is the piece we provide.

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

Lauren Horwitz is a technology reporter and writer focused on IoT, most recently at Informa.

Real-World Crowd Intelligence Value at Your Campus or Venue

people working in office

When I talk to partners and clients around the globe, I hear two common threads, whether it’s a premier sporting event venue or a small college campus. One is focused on actionable response,  and the other on improving long-term space management.

The security and facilities teams I talk to want actionable insights.

They want to know when a room or section is overcrowded, or whether a restricted-access zone is filling up.  At the same time, those same teams want to optimize spaces for the long run.  

They want to move away from spreadsheets and instead make data-driven decisions with easy-to-understand dashboard metrics. 

In short, they want to future-proof their operations, and they don’t want to hire data scientists to do it. And that’s where crowd intelligence software comes in.

“With crowd intelligence software, there’s no reason for data to overwhelm operations teams. Your existing data can go to work for you, and can surface insights to guide the way to smarter space management.”


A search of the term “crowd intelligence” generates a few definitions, but the one I want to focus on has to do with understanding how “crowds” or groups of people move in and around a physical space or venue. This “intelligence” can be used to predict behavior, anticipate crowd flow, and optimize the experience — for both the people interacting in the space and the people responsible for managing it.

Crowd intelligence helps facilities management, venue operators, and security staff know where people are, whether they are clustered in crowds, and where they are likely headed. At Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, the Cleveland Cavaliers rely on Lambent for full-venue transparency, so they can see where crowds are headed and gathered, and if foot traffic is flowing as planned.

“The ability to understand the flow of people in the venue equips us to stay one step ahead of their needs, deploy resources more intelligently, and optimize the
event environment.”



  • Staffing: Security staff can reposition personnel to redirect crowds ahead of congestion, deploy service staff based on crowd density, manage ticketing or event entrances, monitor security risks, and respond quickly to incidents. And it doesn’t always have to be safety related. Our work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville helped them make staffing decisions around peak usage hours at their library and help desk.
  • Space Management: By understanding the flow of people in a given space, facilities management can optimize room and event occupancy, identify workspaces for more efficient hybrid use, flex different spaces for changing traffic flows, manage de-densification efforts, and enhance energy efficiency.
  • Concessions/Sponsorship ROI: With crowd intelligence, business teams can test and measure the best placements for concessions and portable carts, redirect traffic to reduce wait times, and test service styles for optimal event experiences. This type of data can also be used to prove sponsorship ROI and adjust sponsorship pricing models based on actual traffic flow.


  • Using existing Wi-Fi and security infrastructure to collect data. 
  • Applying data analytics and machine learning to understand density attributes and patterns, anticipate movement, and predict future density.
  • Surfacing contextual data via dashboards and graphic visualizations on command center desktops and mobile devices.

Importantly, crowd intelligence should also be:  

  • Anonymous. It analyzes patterns, not people. 
  • Secure. All data should be protected with VPN, TLS and restricted access.
  • Resilient. Geo-redundant infrastructure and auto-scaling ensure uptime.
  • Flexible. Crowd intelligence uses edge services running locally, in the cloud, or both.

With crowd intelligence software, there’s no reason for data to overwhelm operations teams. Your existing data can go to work for you, and can surface insights to guide the way to smarter space management.

David Smentek is the Director of Partners and Federal at Lambent. You can reach him at