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Business Officer Magazine

Connect the Spots

With 36 sites, 18,695 acres, and 1,157 buildings, the University of Missouri– Columbia had much to gain from automating its space planning. The result? A process that focuses on connectivity.

By Scott Shader

Today, MU’s office of space planning and management has developed and implemented an integrated facilities management and space planning environment that tracks information about MU’s four campuses and 36 sites spread throughout the state. This space management system covers MU’s entire real estate portfolio, which includes more than 50,000 rooms, 16 million square feet of space, and more than 1,100 facilities. The integrated and fully interactive system encompasses all floor plans, space inventory data, and campus maps.

We use the space inventory information to calculate indirect cost reimbursements, help determine Medicare/Medicaid rates, assign campus space, gauge building replacement values for maintenance and repair, and update MU’s space model—a formula-driven projection of current and future facility needs on a departmental and divisional basis.

The Wonders of the Web

Our space planning environment relies on three Web-based components:

1. The space management system software, Archibus Facilities Management, tracks all of the floor plans and space inventory information for MU–Columbia and those elements of the MU System within the Columbia area. Archibus ties the campus floor plans to the space inventory data by allowing a relationship to be formed at the room record level using polylines. For example, suppose MU officials decide to move a wall, change a door, or renovate a building. Once new floor plans have been created, the software automatically calculates the square footages and inserts its stored data, such as the room descriptions and use, onto the floor plans.

Fully Web-enabled since 2000, our software also ties directly into PeopleSoft, where financial and personnel information can be fed through tables into the online environment. Our staff members can log in and make transactional updates, such as changing room descriptions, transferring departmental ownerships, and updating the use of rooms. If university or externally funded research is occurring in a room, staff can insert financial and personnel information into each room based on a grant’s funding source. These factors become crucial when renegotiating a higher indirect cost rate.

What's in the Archive?
1,300,000 Document images in microfilm
90,000 Architectural, engineering renderings of landscaping drawings
20,000 Aperature cards
7,5000+ Electronic data holdings
6,000 AutoCAD drawings
900 Project manuals
500 Cubic feet of construction project submittals
300 Renderings of schematic designs
200 Maps of campus, agricultural farms, and other off-site locations
100 Photographs of sites on and off campus

This Archibus environment also:

  • provides floor plans via the Web indicating the actual room-byroom assignments. As staff members complete an online survey, they can see which room they are editing or updating;
  • provides a checklist of progress and status in terms of completing and updating the space survey; and
  • alerts users if any errors, missing data, or problems occur during an update. The software flags the missing or incomplete information so the end users can fix it.

2. A geographic information system allows us to take aerial photography and see campus maps by site and drill down through Archibus to a specific building or set of buildings (see image, “Zooming to a Building”). We use two ESRI products, ArcIMS and ArcSDE. ArcIMS allows us to deliver dynamic maps and geographic information system data and services via the Web. ArcSDE is a spatial data server. Using the North American Datum 1983 zone 15 north coordinates, the software can pinpoint the exact location of our assets in the field. We can search by department, building, or site. Departments or divisions can now fill out their space information by building within a site by drilling down through these dynamically scaled maps.

The space planning office is currently making adjustments to allow for data to be extracted outside of a building at a site or land mass area so that, for example, department staff can retrieve information on the trees, sidewalks, roads, curb cuts, and construction projects. We hope to have this technology in place within the next six months to a year once enough data have been captured.

3. A document management system called FindView catalogues as-builts, shop drawings, legal documents, bidding documents, warranty documents, and so forth that date back to the mid-1800s. Our space planning office manages hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of images that are being computerized, scanned, and cleaned up. We are tying this environment at the building level back to our geographic information system environment and to Archibus so MU staff can access construction information and asbuilt information as well as floor plans and space information.

We have also created an MU in Brick and Mortar site (http://www, which explains the history of campus buildings. The site, funded by a Library Services Technology Act grant, uses the FindView data and search engine.

Security Measures

The space planning and management department currently has two levels of access on the Web ( Columbia/default.cfm). We allow the general public to access very simplistic space inventory reports, such as rooms by building, departments by building, year-of-construction reports, people locator, and so forth. The general public cannot view buildings that may have security issues. Buildings that have been deemed noncritical or nonthreatening to security can be seen on the Web without a login ID.

We require a password and login ID for individuals who want to make transactional updates or see secure information. To make it simple for authorized users, we moved to the single sign-on methodology, eliminating the need for multiple passwords and layers. Using their current Microsoft Outlook user name and password, employees can log in and see their data, make transactional updates, run detailed queries, or print detailed floor plans. This single sign-on feature also works in our geographic information system environment.

Two years ago, our office of space planning and management in Columbia introduced the Web-based system to MU’s other campuses in Kansas City, Rolla, and St. Louis. These campuses now collect their own data and conduct online surveys. Our office in Columbia continues to host the entire environment.

Boiling Down the Benefits

By using our online space inventory survey system, we were able to increase MU’s indirect cost reimbursement rate in 2002. Prior to 2002, MU had not negotiated a new indirect cost reimbursement rate for almost 10 years.

MU by the Numbers
1,100 Owned buildings
57 Leased buildings
16,274,721.34 Total gross square footage
11,292,061.08 Total assignable square footage
50,272 Room records
37 Campus sites
2,000+ Floor plans
  Note: Data as of September 2004

To satisfy the external auditors, we collected additional information at the room record level. We took steps to make this inforinformation available and feed it through tables that now are accessible online. Individuals can insert their financials and employee information at the room record level to help validate those fund sources and personnel who are conducting university or externally funded information available and feed it through tables that now are accessible online. Individuals can insert their financials and employee information at the room record level to help validate those fund sources and personnel who are conducting university or externally funded research per room record in the database. These data can then be exported to the Sponsored Programs Office for processing and developing the F&A cost proposal.

By automating the space management system and putting the processes online, MU has benefited in other ways:

  • The electronic survey now occurs year round, is more accurate, can be completed in a fraction of the time, and has a 100 percent departmental participation rate.
  • We require a smaller staff to maintain the system because the employees who are responsible for space update the database. We have redirected the salary, wage, and benefit dollars formerly spent on two staff toward creating geographic information system positions within the office.
  • With our centralized Web-based environment in Columbia, we have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in duplicative services related to IT support, hardware, software requirements, operating systems, and maintenance costs for all of the campuses.

Many large academic institutions have made the jump to online facility management. Our system is different because it ties all of our databases together, ensuring cohesive building information throughout all applications. The square footage numbers in the Archibus databases are the same ones feeding the maintenance management system, building archives, accounting, and human resources. That’s what makes our system so powerful.

Author Bio Scott Shader is director of space planning and management at the University of Missouri–Columbia. He is also the director of the building and infrastructure archives, which is a collection of historical and current building documents.