Author Archives: Tom Rauscher

Is the 4th Utility included in your District’s 2015 Building Conditions Survey?

AT-TCS-01-introFor NYS school districts, the Building Condition Survey (BCS) is designed to identify facility-related issues that need to be addressed to ensure student learning and safety. The results of the BCS assessment are used as a basis for the district’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan.

Existing BCS forms include systems that deliver the three major energy utilities—gas, electric and water—but fail to address the newer fourth major utility: information.

Information-based infrastructure and systems in the 21st century are just as important as their energy-delivering counterparts and should receive equal attention in your district’s BCS, five-year plan and School Facility Report Cards.

In this series of weekly blogs, I’ll be discussing the idea of adding a technology assessment component to your BCS survey to ensure your district’s information flows as well as its energy. This separate technology assessment is eligible for state aid and can be used as a starting point for your Smart Schools Investment Plan.

Are your information-based systems as critical as to operations as your energy systems? Do you think it makes sense to add a technology component to the BCS?

DonBrownI’d be interested to hear your opinions and experiences in this area.

— Don Brown, P.E., CLA Consultant

NYS Smart Schools Update from March 12 School Facilities Summit

On Thursday afternoon I was fortunate to attend the 2015 School Facilities Critical Issues Summit in Albany, NY hosted by the NYSED, the School Facilities Management Institute, and the NYS School Facilities Association.

The topic is especially timely as public school districts across the state are preparing for Building Conditions Surveys. If these Surveys include a technology component, they can provide a baseline of critical data as districts begin the process of preparing their Smart School Investment Plans.

2015-SFMI-SummitInviteAs you can imagine, there was quite a bit of discussion about the technology-based impact of the Bond on school facilities such as network connectivity, instructional software and systems, and end-point devices. With the Bond’s primary goal to improve K–12 student achievement via technologies that prepare them for the 21st Century workforce, it’s not surprising that professionals dedicated to district facility management would be interested in the wires and boxes that will make it all possible.

However, the human side of the Smart School Bond Act’s affect on classrooms was also evident. As an industry, we must never lose sight of the fact that what we do is empower people. We connect ideas, ambitions and interests among people, organizations and communities of all kinds. But if people aren’t trained on and motivated to use technology correctly, all the tablets, whiteboards and video displays in the world won’t solve the problem.

During the Q&A session of his Smart Schools Bond Act/SED Critical News You Can Use presentation, I asked Carl Thurnau, P.E., a Coordinator at the SED Office of Facility Planning, if Bond Act funding could be used for teacher and staff training in the effective use of technology in the classroom. I was happy to hear that, to his knowledge, it could. That’s great news for thousands of teachers across the state and the exponential number of students they touch.

I plan to post more blogs about the Smart Schools Bond Act and the opportunities — and potential pitfalls — it brings to residents of all ages in the Empire State.

In the meantime, I’d be interested in your thoughts as to how technology can best be used to support education in NYS.

Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from anyone with an interest in the success of our students.

TomRauscher— Tom Rauscher, President, Archi-Technology

Electronic Facility Records (EFR) Give Documentation New Life And Value

A Repository, Process and Management System For Facility Systems Information

2-2-3-EFRServices

So your most recent project is over and, if you’re like most people, you assume you have complete documentation for everything that was done. But do you know that for certain?

As soon as system components are added or changed, documentation is no longer up to date: after changes increase above 10%, the as-built documentation starts to lose its value. Who’s updating your documentation and how? And who can access it quickly during an emergency when the right information can dramatically slash system outage times?

And how was the Facility Manager’s retirement party? How much institutional knowledge did that person take home in their heads?

Organizations of all kinds can no longer afford to be complacent about their facility systems documentation. What is needed is a process to collect all documentation and keep it updated, along with a system for organization and access.

Electronic Facility Records (EFR) is akin to Electronic Medical Records but for buildings instead of people. EFR consists of two key components:

  • An electronic repository of facility information that is instrumental for building operations and maintenance.
  • A process of collecting, organizing and updating the facility information.

An Electronic Facility Records Management System (EFRMS) is an electronic system used to store, organize and control access to EFR information.

These three components—repository, process and system—create a foundation to reduce facility maintenance costs with secure access to mission-critical, up-to-date information.

EFR project documentation keeps facility systems drawings, project files, and O&M information current, organized and accessible for the life of the building. It also allows centralized facility documentation storage and access by everyone who needs it instead of residing on someone’s laptop or, worse, only on their head.

Future blog posts will to discuss the importance of EFR, how it can help improve technical knowledge management, and the process needed to obtain it. I welcome your feedback, questions and opinions on this new topic that transcends industries and profession.

DonBrown— Don Brown, P.E., Electronic Facility Records (EFR) Subject Matter Expert (SME)

Practice Makes Perfect

New Archi-Technology Practice Groups Focus On Industry-Specific Needs

In our almost 20 years experience planning and developing technology infrastructure and related CLA systems for a diverse client base, it’s become clear that the needs of the education and healthcare markets require specialized knowledge.

ATb-PracticeGroupsFrom increasing student graduation and employer-recruitment rates to improving patient outcomes as mandated by new federal legislation, technology is playing an increasingly important role in transforming these industries that touch everyone.

To that end, Archi-Technology recently appointed three Practice Group managers within the company to be the lead advocate for the following vertical markets:

  • K-12 Education: Luke Poandl, Project Manager, Rochester, NY
  • Higher Education: Joe Blasz, RCDD, Project Manager, Ithaca, NY
  • Healthcare: Mark Howland, RCDD, Project Manager, Rochester, NY

Each manager will be posting an introductory blog post about current issues facing their respective industries as well as the opportunities and challenges technology brings.

As always, we welcome your feedback, opinions and experiences about how we can all harness the potential of technology while minimizing obstacles and learning curves.

— Tom Rauscher, FCSI, President, Archi-Technology

The Value Of A CLA Technology Consultant To Facility Construction Projects

The complex, interrelated technology systems used in today’s building construction projects are increasingly reliant on Internet connectivity to transfer data within and among these systems and apply it in meaningful ways. From data and voice communications systems to integrated AV, electronic security, and building automation, the Internet of Things has never been more apparent or important for a building project’s ultimate success. So why don’t architects, engineers, construction managers and building owners use technology consultants specializing in Communications, Life Safety and Automation (CLA) systems like they do when it comes to MEP systems?

ATb-CLA-Consultant-chart1Technology systems involve “wires” which architects have traditionally viewed as the electrical engineer’s concern, even though low-voltage technology systems have little in common with their power-distribution counterparts. Technology systems are viewed as the owner’s responsibility to be handled during construction even though these systems use physical pathways and spaces that are more efficiently addressed during project design.

An independent CLA systems consulting firm with registered designers operates at a peer level with MEP consultants and brings value to all parties on both sides of the bid line:

  1. During project planning and design, the CLA Technology Consultant helps interpret and define the project owner’s technology systems needs for the architect including development of systems standards, specifications and budgets. The Consultant can then act at the lead technology systems design firm or focus on one or several specific system designs (e.g., AV and security).
  2. Once the project crosses the bid line, the CLA Technology Consultant serves a number of important functions during the build and manage phases:
    • Intermediary between the architect and CM/GC to ensure owner’s technology system needs are met.
    • Construction Manager for all or designated project CLA systems.
    • Electronic documentation manager with secure cloud-based facilities documentation system and related services.

Oftentimes a CLA Technology Consultant will be brought into a project during construction when Change Orders are the only way to address technology infrastructure issues. It’s best to bring Tech Consultants during project planning to ensure adequate funding and a holistic approach to the “Fourth Utility.”

– Tom Rauscher, FCSI, President, Archi-Technology

Sharing Knowledge. Creating Conversations.

TomRauscher

Although this is our first blog, Archi-Technology has been providing technology consulting and design services to educational and healthcare clients since 1996. During that time, we have gained a deep understanding of the ways in which a facility’s technology infrastructure should be planned, designed, installed and documented to save time, money and space.

This blog is intended to share knowledge, insight and advice among clients, technologists and end users to gain new perspectives about the effective development of technology systems in educational, healthcare and other types of facilities.

With your help, we look to create a meaningful dialogue that has a positive, practical impact on how you and your organization view technology infrastructure and the systems and capabilities it enables.

On behalf of Archi-Technology, we look forward to hearing from you.

—Tom Rauscher, President, Archi-Technology LLC