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Discussing the benefits of smart space management, including cost savings, enhanced compliance, and a more efficient asset management process, Hazel Bedson is featured in Public Issue Sector Building.

Effective space management has a crucial role to play in helping to drive efficiencies in the public sector, from education to healthcare. This is especially true at a time when finances are being squeezed and moving into a new building is not feasible.

Refurbs and refits offer an alternative method of updating a workplace but, without a true understanding of space, these projects simply won’t succeed. Consider a hospital that wants to create room for 100 more beds. It may be that since the pandemic a number of non-clinical and admin staff work off-site and the space they occupied is now vacant. Other rooms may be unsafe because of RAAC, while numerous departments may have requests in for new theatres or surgeries.

It is essential for an estate manager to have a full, real-time overview of their estate if they are going to make strategic decisions that satisfy all stakeholders and cause the least amount of disruption. Constant site walks are time- consuming and an inefficient way to manage space, as is using spreadsheets or the like to record data.

Space management software, combined with computer maintenance management system (CMMS) and sensors, can be deployed to give estate managers all the insight they need on one dashboard – and the benefits go far beyond understanding space utilization.


Sticking with healthcare as an example, compliance is an absolute necessity to ensure patient safety and avoid hefty fines. The last thing that anyone wants during a refurb or refit project is an unwanted surprise in the building materials, such as the discovery of RAAC or asbestos.

Asbestos is not a high risk when lying dormant inside wall cavities or ceiling tiles and in good condition, but once disturbed inhalation of the fibers can cause severe respiratory problems. The leading CMMS systems should include a dedicated asbestos management module (or the ability to create one) that enables the creation of a central register to record data including location, type, condition and risk.

This information can be embedded into FM work schedules to warn operatives of asbestos locations, as well as providing an audit trail of work carried out and asbestos management. This one module can save plenty of headaches and ensures that projects can be carried out on time and within the budget.

Proactive maintenance

Integrating sensors with a CMMS system can provide real-time asset information that allows FMs to recognize potential failures before they occur. It also reduces the need for FMs to manually check assets on a fixed schedule, saving time and money.

I highly recommend starting with sensors in the highest priority areas. While it may be tempting to install as many sensors as possible, this can be costly and unless you have the resources to analyze and act on the data, they will be wasted.

Determining the priority areas will result in the biggest impact, and you can scale the project as cost savings are realized.

Predictive maintenance

The next step up from proactive maintenance is predictive maintenance. Al and machine learning is becoming more commonplace in CMMS systems and related software, and it can analyze historical data and other trends to flag when an asset is likely to need maintenance.

A great example of this is a transport client I’ve worked with in Sweden. The Al keeps track of weather forecasts and alerts the FM team when heavy snow is expected, as this gets walked in by commuters at train stations and has in the past caused faults with escalators. The team can apply proactive measures to limit the amount of slush and debris that gets walked through the stations, reducing the likelihood of escalator failure and maintaining a stress-free experience for commuters.


Sensors can also support with sustainability goals (and cost savings) by analyzing which assets are using the most energy. FMs can decide if the assets can be used less or if it’s worth replacing them with a more energy efficient option. Of course, there is a balancing act as a replacement comes with its own embodied carbon footprint. However, the data at least gives FMs a full picture so they can make the best decision, rather than a best guess.


With so many benefits around understanding space utilization, there is no reason not to be using tech to some degree so support estate management. It’s important that you don’t have to do everything at once. Consider where tech can deliver the biggest impact at first and start there. As you progress, you’ll be able to add different CMMS modules or install new sensors as required.

You also want to ensure that any new system or software can integrate easily with existing systems. The goal is to have one central hub that feeds in data from all systems. If one part cannot “talk” to another, you’ll either miss out on that data or have to manually work around it, which defeats the purpose. If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on the way to much smarter estate management.