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Education, engineering, and enforcement, also known as "The 3 E's" of fire prevention, are a hot topic in almost any fire trade magazine, website, and blog alike. We keep reading about changing the models and looking for tools providing the best opportunity for maximizing fire prevention efforts; especially when everyone is facing an uphill battle: do more with less while the municipal "bill" keeps climbing.
The majority response to change isn't positive. In fact, it's questioned and challenged at almost every turn. Let’s take a quick look back at some game changers that caused controversy in the fire/life safety industry, but that we now can’t imagine doing without.
If we look back in our fire history and using the three examples from above, change reveals itself to be a necessity. It has brought us better information on how to fight fires (education), safer equipment, or tools, needed in the field (engineering), and practices for determining proper compliance of local prevention codes and standards (enforcement).
If change can be proven to be both positive and a necessity we need to consider innovations designed to bridge the 3 E's, such as technological advances. No need to take it personal, but technology is allowing industries, including fire and life safety, to provide better, faster, stronger, more efficient and organized “tools” for enhancing such models as fire prevention.
One such example is the Web-based, or Third-Party, movement. Using a web-based, or cloud platform, these systems are not only opening up solutions for Service Providers and Authorities Having Jurisdiction, but are connecting probably the biggest entity, Commercial Property Owners; specifically municipal/government entities.
How are these systems connecting the 3 E's? Take a look:
Fire service leaders already implementing the innovation of web-based systems are seeing change work and for the better. Local and state entities alike are taking active roles in using a tool linking the 3 E's. Change is here, bridging gaps, and increasing our prevention efforts.
Jill Cotton is Co-Founder of InspectionReportsOnline.net
Facility managers today are expected to understand their company’s core business strategies and contribute to the bottom line — not only by reducing facility costs. but also by improving productivity, revenue generating capacity and the image of their organizations. Companies also look to their facility managers to ensure their office buildings, factories and other physical properties remain competitive with other companies in the same industry.
There are various challenges facing facility management professionals that require a wide range of knowledge in various areas – all of which can be assisted by the use of crowdsourcing technology.
Increasing need for energy efficiency
Organizations have begun to incorporate sustainability into business goals and culture, and within the profession, it has moved from an emphasis primarily for new construction to influencing existing building operations. Recently, managers have also started to report that lifecycle sustainability has become a more significant factor in making purchasing decisions. In the face of soaring energy costs and growing concerns about the environmental impact of existing industrial infrastructure, facility managers are increasingly tasked to find ways to shrink their companies’ carbon footprint and to do more with less energy. All while staying within their budget..
However, identifying potential candidates to assist with energy efficiency retrofits poses significant challenges. Here, online crowdsourcing platforms can be beneficial in matching facility managers with sustainability specialists. This on demand labor can be quickly assembled to immediately review existing conditions and respond with required targets, on project-by-project basis.
Emergency and Disaster Preparedness
Facility managers play a critical role in business continuity after a disrupting event. The post 9/11 world has forever changed the face of facility management, sharply increasing facility managers’ concerns about the security - and continuity-related responsibilities of their jobs, thus forcing the spotlight on the importance of emergency preparedness. Much remains to be done in this area, as many organization need to institute or refine emergency evacuation procedures.
Few companies have emergency preparedness procedures and disaster recovery plans in place. And even fewer people have real experience in this area, yet online outsourcing can easily produce the relevant expertise to create effective policies to ensure the continuity of operations in the event of an emergency. Facility managers can capitalize on the past experience of others, who have lived through the emergency that is being prepared for.
Managing Aging Infrastructure with Modern Technologies
Facility management faces problems stemming from the aging building stock professionals manage. These difficulties have been compounded by the global recession. The aging of infrastructure has been accelerated by the widespread postponement of needed repairs and maintenance. Facility managers are increasingly persuading their superiors of the necessity of adequately and consistently funding facility maintenance budgets.
Complex building systems and controls increasingly offer opportunities and challenges. The increasing quantity and complexity of data available to facility managers through new reporting protocols poses challenges as well. More facility departments have added the ability to convert raw data regarding maintenance, life cycles, management systems, into usable and meaningful information that fosters informed decision making. Customized software incorporating all these needs can be quickly developed by building technology specialists, many of whom can be found via crowdsourcing platforms.
The industry can leverage new technologies to better manage facilities, but it also needs to ensure adequate training is in place to educate practitioners on new systems.
New ways of doing business
Changing work styles significantly affect both occupant behavior and the vacancy rate of buildings, which affects how buildings must operate. Facility management increasingly faces challenges posed by open work plan arrangements, differing hours of operation, and varying occupancy rates and densities — all of which impact power use and other considerations. Architects and designers can assist facility managers to develop the most optimum uses of space, and designs for future considerations. There are online communities that can connect you to this design talent, where you can effectively solicit the required expertise.
The most successful facility professionals will be those that proactively meet the challenges posed by these trends and lead the way for their organizations and the profession as a whole. Technology can help identify the industry patterns to look for, the skill sets to work on and the places to allocate their resources. Being aware how to leverage these new technologies is critical to the success of the FM professional of the future.
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