How Data-Driven Software Transformed the Management of 300+ Philadelphia School Buildings
Find out how Philadelphia turned a nightmare of bad paperwork, backlogged data and incomplete work orders into citywide success
The School District of Philadelphia is the 8th largest in the US, encompassing a massive and complex array of assets and stakeholders. The district includes approximately 130,000 students, 300+ buildings,1400 acres of land, and 29M square feet of space; maintained by approximately 1300 cleaning and building staff, 230 mechanics, and 200 Building Engineers. The district is also one of the country’s oldest, with an average building age of 67 years old, including many buildings whose lifespan began over a century ago, with systems of varying ages.
In 2015, outdated processes and fragmented data were dragging operations, making it difficult to track and respond to the needs of such a massive real estate portfolio. It was time for the school district to centralize onto a single system for managing real estate, maintenance, space, and more.
The goal was to have a single source of data where all stakeholders could work with the same clean data to track the history, needs, workflow, and resources of the school district’s many assets. By streamlining operations through a single repository of data, the School District of Philadelphia hoped to employ smarter and leaner strategies for meeting its goals.
In December 2015, the school district began centralizing data and operations on ARCHIBUS. Records were cleaned and digitized, data was sorted, and 22 applications were implemented, with varying degrees of personalization to suit specific needs. The project was expansive, and made differences in several key areas.
Before ARCHIBUS, maintenance work orders were delegated by phone call, and there was an 8-month backlog in entering data into the system. This resulted in an arduous process for tracking how time and money were spent.
The decision was made to purchase mobile phones for every engineer and mechanic, and manage work orders through the ARCHIBUS Mobile Framework. Staff could now report needs and self-assign
tasks directly from the eld, as well as track asset histories. Principals and teachers were also given access to input and track work orders in the system, connecting educators to maintenance staff.
For administrators, this system provided a top- down view of maintenance work where they could track costs, work ow, asset condition, and resource allocation, moving from a reactive maintenance strategy to a con dent, informed, and proactive approach.
Today, between 50,000 and 60,000 work orders a year are now sent electronically.
Connecting with Communities
Schools in Philadelphia are more than centers of learning – they are anchors for the community. Facilities and spaces are often used for extracurricular activities like sports, afterschool programs, and church programs, all of which require staff, cleanup, insurance, and coordination. This whole process now happens seamlessly on ARCHIBUS. The decision was made to adapt a public-facing solution, where external groups can directly use the system to reserve space, con rm availability, and receive approval from stakeholders like principles and relevant staff. In this way, the school district has turned its facilities into a uniquely responsive and accessible public platform.
Today, the School District of Philadelphia has completely transformed not only how it maintains its schools, but also how these schools work for the students, educators, public and staff using them. Maintenance has never been more ef cient or effective. The school district nally has a system that can encompass not only the assets under its control, but also their history, condition, utilization, and cost, so that stakeholders with different roles can have an informed conversation about their shared mission. Going forward, the School District of Philadelphia is looking forward to digitizing the drawings and oorplans of its many buildings, and integrating them into ARCHIBUS. The School District is continuing its pursuit of building a central repository for all data.