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A Software-First Approach To Counting People

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.”

MADELAINE MOEKE, DIRECTOR OF INSIGHT AND ANALYTICS AT LAMBENT

“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.”


SEEING SPACES IN NEW WAYS


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. 

CIO.com 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.) 


SPOTLIGHT ON OCCUPANCY ANALYTICS


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.”


DATA GAPS LEAD TO TROUBLE


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 david.smentek@lambentspaces.com.

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

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