IBM recently announced three public school initiatives as part of their Smarter Planet program which is now five years old. The districts involved are: Palm Beach Country (SDPBC) in Florida, Portland Public Schools (PPS) in Oregon, and Clark County School District (CCSD) in Nevada.
Through the use of IBM software and analytics, the schools are able to monitor and manage their physical assets more effectively, which results in reduced operating costs, increased returns on invested capital and reduced operating costs, leaving more precious resources available for their core educational missions.
With more than 95 percent of all school districts across the US facing budget cuts, there could not be a better time to bring this combination of technology and know-how to bear on minimizing the peripheral costs associated with running an educational system.
Here are a few examples of the kind of things that have been done.
In Palm Beach County, the school district implemented IBM’s TRIRIGA real estate management system to help manage the operation of a leasing program, so that they can capitalize on making unused facilities available during off-hours. Since adapting this system, leasing revenues have increased by $4.5 million.
In Portland, the same software is being used to prioritize modernization efforts in a district where the average building age is 70 years old. It also helps them to perform smart, predictive maintenance procedures. As Ben Franklin so astutely pointed out, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The smart building software has helped the district identify problems quickly in their 81 buildings and has reduced facilities costs by 15% while increasing the speed of modernization by 46 percent.
Clark County Nevada is the fifth largest school district in the country with 36 million square feet of building space, covering 8000 square miles. The use of IBM’s Maximo software has helped the district stay on top of some 100,000 maintenance work orders per year and has prevented major issues that would have otherwise forced some schools to close.
Meanwhile, at the college level, Tulane University’s School of Architecture, working with IBM and Johnson Controls is transforming its historic building into an energy-efficient “living laboratory” that collects real-time sensor data throughout the building to drive higher energy efficiency, by simply, as Charles McMahon, Tulane’s CTO puts it, “by listening to what the building has to say.”
And at the City University of NY (CUNY), IBM software allows facility staff to track performance across buildings and against simulation models to see the impact of past renovations and to plan future ones. This has helped the city in its effort to shave 30% off of its municipal carbon footprint by 2017.
[Image credit: IBM Curiosity Shop: Flick Creative Commons]
RP Siegel, PE, is an inventor, consultant and author. He co-wrote the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water in an exciting and entertaining format. Now available on Kindle.
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