What do you think of when you hear the word “campus”? Okay, BESIDES toga parties and football games? Truth is, campuses have many unique needs when it comes to managing their inside and outside plant. We sat down with Lake Stockdreher, an Account Manager for colleges and universities and asked him to give us the buzz on what’s new in the world of campus communications.
Lake, what are some of the challenges of managing outside and inside plant at campuses?
Being able to track the physical pathway and view visually, being able to manage cross connects, understanding capacity – maintaining accurate records. Oftentimes campuses have data in multiple systems – CAD, spreadsheets, other homegrown databases – so the ability to consolidate into one platform makes things easier. Understanding who/what is out as a result of a cut or network event is also a challenge. A lot of times we hear that they have to go out and field verify everything because they don’t trust their records or can’t access the data easily. Trouble shooting can be a problem as well.
How does a CAD/GIS hybrid help mitigate those challenges and create efficiencies for them?
The system consolidates the data into an intelligent management platform that is easy to maintain and builds into their process to allow them to keep it up to date. With the system they can do more engineering from their desk before ever having to go out to inspect what facilities are there.
How does a visual operations system help?
A to Z tracing is visual and helps with network design and management. Understanding Fiber Fill Capacity, Conduit Fill Rates and Circuit capacity is very helpful during day-to-day operations.
How do campuses get plant information to the right people?
Lots of different approaches here. Mostly what they have is on their servers, so they can print out plots or provide views into the system for the data.
When is the best time of year for a campus to consider adding or enhancing their CAD/GIS system?
Most institutions are on budget fiscal years that determine this. Typically they start near the beginning of the fiscal year when their funds are appropriated.
What advice would you give to a campus who is shopping for a GIS system?
Verify levels of integration; consider involving multiple stakeholder groups like facilities, space management, emergency management, networking and telecommunications. All these groups can benefit from a tool like this and it can facilitate their ability to work together. Also be sure to look for configurability!