How the Calgary Board of Education Streamlined by Investing in Data, Reporting, and Workflow
Rated the fifth most livable city in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit think tank, the city of Calgary, located in Canada’s Alberta province, has much to recommend it. Political stability, quality of health care, low crime rate, convenient transportation system, and its arts and culture scene (named Culture Capital of Canada for 2012) all boosted its global ranking. The contribution that the city’s public school system makes also adds to Calgary’s quality of life.
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) oversee a $1 billion annual operating budget to manage 225 schools, comprising a total of ~15 million square feet and serving more than 107,000 students. Clearly, optimizing the CBE’s facilities is a major challenge.
“Facilities services directly impact the ability of our educators to effectively deliver quality education,” says Murray Hunt, CBE Manager of Integrated Workplace Management Systems. “So we are constantly examining our business and environmental practices.”
Since 2006, the CBE have used ARCHIBUS to build a comprehensive, data-driven integrated, and scalable system to streamline processes and improve services.
Consolidating Systems, Streamlining Processes
“Where possible, we want to consolidate all of our rogue databases and applications and turn them into a single strategic-level enterprise system that improves efficiency through greater automation. A technology cornerstone for us is ARCHIBUS,” says Hunt. “We once had a very paper-driven work order process where a work request could take up to three and a half weeks from initial request to getting that work order into a tradesperson’s hands. Now it takes three days. Shortly, we will have that happen instantly with the introduction of mobile technology.”
Space drawings are all deployed online using Web Central; CAD standards have been adopted for all new construction; and a hazardous materials inventory for all buildings cataloguing asbestos, lead, PCBs, and other materials was also completed and deployed.
“Space utilization reporting was a huge paper-based process that is now accomplished online by the school principals using online surveys distributed through ARCHIBUS,” adds Hunt, who has also introduced advances such as bar code tagging of building assets.
Technology Council Raises IWMS Department Influence
In 2011, the chief superintendent created a Technology Council, chaired by the CBE’s CIO, to develop a technology roadmap that would rationalize the CBE’s more than 400 distinct IT systems and point solutions.
“The Council was the opportunity that we needed to inform the educators on what our emerging IWMS enterprise system could do for them,” notes Hunt.
“ARCHIBUS applications and Web Central have been leveraged system-wide to collect inventory information on musical instruments, and career and technology educational equipment for assets like shop tools and other vocational program equipment. In addition, the IT department has asked us to help them catalog their systems and relate them to the floor plans. By using the ARCHIBUS Service Desk application, we are participating in a consolidated help desk model which encompasses all facilities, administrative, IT, and student information help desks.”
Dashboards: Putting School Principals in the Driver’s Seat
ARCHIBUS dashboards at the CBE’s 225 schools are used to collect and distribute essential information on facilities use and maintenance, as well as to easily provide comprehensive reporting.
This streamlined communication aids service delivery and raises the IWMS department’s profile as a proactive player in addressing user needs. The IWMS department has also replaced obsolete energy-monitoring systems with ARCHIBUS Energy Management and integrated the CBE facilities reservation system with the City of Calgary’s central IT system. Now the Parks and Recreation Department, for example, can directly book school rooms for use by community groups. School information in ARCHIBUS is also accessible by Calgary’s first responders, who can retrieve hazardous material, building diagram, and other information to better combat threats to student safety.
“In the future,” Hunt adds, “we expect more integration with other enterprise systems, such as PeopleSoft and other CBE core business systems. With every five-year strategic plan, we’ll review where we are and decide where we’re going with our technology investments. We expect that ARCHIBUS will continue to play a prominent role.”