How The University of Queensland improves asset performance with real-time data

The University of Queensland hosts over 55,000 students on their campuses. Fiffy Solutions helps them to understand the complex flow of people and collects data about the utilisation of space. The data improves asset performance and informs operational and strategical decisions.

This technology has enabled real-time traffic monitoring of the space, which provides valuable visual data for staff and clients on the current utilisation of the facility. The historical data collected will also be used for future operational planning, using facts to make informed decisions. This solution has delivered real value to our business.

Vince Kelly – Innovation Group Manager
The University of Queensland

About the Organisation

For more than a century, The University of Queensland (UQ) has maintained a global reputation for delivering knowledge leadership for a better world. The most prestigious and widely recognised rankings consistently place UQ among the world’s top 50 universities. UQ has also won more national teaching awards than any other Australian university. This commitment to quality teaching empowers their 55,000 current students to create positive change for society.

Challenge

In 2019, UQ invested over $300 million into expanding and maintaining their infrastructure consisting of 562 buildings, 411 general teaching rooms and almost 1,900 laboratories.

Part of this infrastructure is the ‘UQ Innovate - Makerspace’, a workshop where students and staff can meet, collaborate and create. After a recent upgrade, they wanted to know how the space is used. Through reporting on utilisation rates, they also intended to improve staff rostering whilst complying with COVID safety standards and making informed decisions on future infrastructure investments.

At the same time, the space management team from UQ’s Property and Facilities department needed data on how their teaching spaces are used to inform space planning and infrastructure decisions.

Both were looking for a solution to deliver occupancy data which protects the privacy of students, is easy to install and accurate.

Argue using data, not opinion. In a dynamic environment such as a Makerspace, having access to hard data is essential. Understanding the demand cycle allows realtime decisions on space capacity management, but also future operational hours and staff resourcing and rostering in order to best serve our clients.
Vince Kelly - Innovation Group Manager
The University of Queensland

Solution

UQ had some technologies in place to determine the occupancy of spaces. However, they decided to roll out Fiffy Solutions' people counting devices because they are easy to deploy and protect student's privacy.

Fiffy’s ability to deploy wireless devices rapidly without requiring a connection to power outlets, whilst ensuring no privacy misuse and an easy-to-use data dashboard, was the incentive to explore this solution further.
Barbara Robinson - Space Manager
The University of Queensland

Fiffy Solutions installed their counting devices above an entrance to capture bi-directional movements of people in both the workshop facility and three teaching rooms. They deployed F1 for places which provided Power-over-Ethernet and F2 - a wireless counter - above doorways with no ports.

The devices were set up quickly and the user could see the real - time data in Fiffy’s dashboard. The graphs were showing occupancies on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. The user was also able to export the data and received the aggregated occupancies sorted after date and time in a CSV file.

Outcomes

After the first week of data collection, UQ could already see a pattern at what time students preferred using the workshop space.

While looking at the occupancy graph we discovered that twice as many students used the space between 10 am and 2 pm. This had an influence on staff rostering.
Vince Kelly - Innovation Group Manager
The University of Queensland

Vince also shared the data with the Executive team who could for the first time see - since the $3 million facility upgrade - how many students benefited from it. With the utilisation data at hand, they also got a better understanding of when future investments are necessary to accommodate an increasing number of students.

UQ was then able to prevent overcrowding in the workshop and keep the space safe by comparing real-time occupancy data to the COVID capacity limit. Fiffy Solutions' tablets informed students and staff whether to enter or wait.

Another safety benefit occurred while performing a fire drill. In the Fiffy dashboard, the warden was able to see how long the evacuation took and when everyone reentered.

Fiffy Solutions smart people counting system has impressed me with its simplicity in tracking of the comings and goings of our workspace. The real-time tracking and graphic presentation that is easily exported from their intuitive to use dashboard helped me present data to my fire warden team and validated our evacuation time.
John Stafford - Senior Technical Officer
The University of Queensland

The Property and Facilities department was interested in how COVID impacted students attending classes and how this affected room occupancies. Over 10,000 data points across three teaching rooms revealed that the room occupancy in teaching spaces during bookings was down to 20% and that the teaching rooms where empty almost half of the time. However, this case study also showed that 91% of bookings were used.

With this data at hand, the space management team was then able to measure the impacts of COVID on space utilisation as well as to inform space planning for future semesters to overall increase asset efficiencies.

Overall, UQ obtained the following benefits:

  • Improved staff rostering
  • Informed investment decisions
  • Show hard data to Executives
  • Kept workplace COVID safe
  • Validated evacuation time
  • Informed space planning

Next Steps

The space management team plans to improve reporting on utilisation for all general teaching rooms and deploy room counting devices to selected teaching spaces. They are also exploring utilisation monitoring of office space with the aim to facilitate the user experience in agile workspaces. Moreover, UQ decided to roll out further devices from Fiffy Solutions to expand the capturing of foot traffic data across their workshop facilities and signed up for an annual subscription to collect permanent, real - time data

Beyond Universities, other industries such as corporate offices, retail, hospitality, real estate, building management and tr ans port enterprises can benefit from people counting data to inform operational and strategical decisions.

Fiffy Solutions will use the case study data to further increase accuracy, add additional connectivity types and expand the battery life.

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