Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are building out more types of campus spaces to differentiate their brand and outpace their competitors. From popular vendors (Starbucks) and whiteboard collaboration spaces in libraries to Esports arenas and combination lounge-study spaces, popular modern campuses are technologically up to date and often look as cutting-edge as a startup office.
However, creating the right campus space isn’t easy. Not all campus spaces are built for flexibility. Many HEIs struggle to maximize space utilization and student-employee satisfaction. Deferred maintenance is another challenge. The high cost of campus construction comes with additional dollars to reallocate students and staff while maintenance occurs.
Space planning software as a service (SaaS) helps HEIs overcome space planning challenges. SaaS is a licensing and delivery model in which a software platform is deployed, information is collected through edge computing and processed in the cloud, and the data is visualized in a platform UI, easily accessible via the Internet.
SaaS solutions like Lambent Spaces connect HEIs with deep insight into campus-wide space usage. For example, it can tell HEIs how many students utilize the library Monday nights or the cafeteria on weekends. It helps predict trends so space planners can forecast and plan their new property investments. Here’s why HEI space planners need SaaS space planning software:
HEI SPACE PLANNING IS COMPLEX
Recent data suggest that 62% of higher ed institutions are creating more flexible and unassigned staff space, while 59% are creating or updating their master plan. Other improvements include the development of cultural and affinity group spaces, along with flexible academic workspaces.
Knowing how and where campus investments will pay off is a challenge when HEI space planners rely on multiple tools to decipher academic and administrative use of campus facilities. So it’s no surprise that nine out of 10 university leaders now need more actionable space utilization data. No longer can they rely on niche space planning solutions that count people instead of measuring occupancy and utilization patterns. Instead, they’re looking for campus-wide data to help them understand how their spaces deliver value.
Space planning SaaS platforms like Lambent Spaces help calculate the value of these investments with deeper insight into occupancy and utilization data. It consolidates data from college reservation systems, room occupancy tools, course enrollment systems, and existing sensor-based solutions to identify the types of spaces used, making it easier to measure space ROI. For example, colleges such as William & Mary uses Lambent Spaces for strategic space planning to view building and office utilization over time.
HYBRID LEARNING IS HERE TO STAY
While traditional classrooms remain important in higher education, switching from traditional classrooms to e-learning has been inevitable. It’s predicted that 45% of college classes will be primarily on campus, with some online elements. Forty percent will use a balance of in-person and virtual components, and 30% will deliver a hybrid split of online and on-campus learning for graduate programs.
With this new hybrid reality comes the need for data insight to help colleges and universities manage it. In fact, 94% of higher ed space planners now say they need a tool to support the new workplace and learning environments. Space planning SaaS can identify when an area is over- or underutilized and provides a holistic view of space through a centralized solution that brings data sources together.
In a recent higher education webinar, Georgetown University’s Vice President of Real Estate and Auxiliary Services, Marc Fournier, says HIEs need a comprehensive view of utilization campus-wide to manage space requests within a hybrid campus with remote and onsite requirements.
SIMPLICITY SAVES TIME AND MONEY
Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of SaaS space planning is the efficiency it brings to the process. SaaS reduces reliance on hardware investments such as sensors, which often come with maintenance tasks and other fees aside from installation costs. Sensors can be helpful in some situations, but HEIs often need deeper insights for their annual space planning reports.
SaaS provides a single source of truth about campus-wide space use, leveraging APIs to integrate seamlessly with existing Wi-Fi cameras and sensor-based data capture solutions – with no need for additional hardware. It can be scaled and expanded as additional buildings and locations are needed without impacting existing infrastructure.
It also eases compliance for the secure handling of data. For example, SaaS space planning software like Lambent Spaces keeps data anonymous; it doesn’t capture personally identifiable or facial recognition data. Unlike desk-level sensors that students and employees say are too intrusive, SaaS space planning software collects anonymous data. Time to value is accelerated because SaaS solutions like Lambent offer a Wi-Fi fast start, so deep utilization insights are provided within weeks of deployment.