Estates and IT

A final post regarding the HE Summit last week (yes I know I’m a bit behind with these posts!). The final session I attended was on securing the future of the estate. The presentations highlighted that quality buildings (and the estate as a whole) can add competitive advantage to an institution. The key requirements of a modern campus building are 24 hour access and use, flexibility and IT richness. One example that demonstrated the flexibility and continuing use of space was a cafeteria area which remained accessible once service had finished to provide a space where students could work and socialise. A wireless network was available throughout the area. The development of a modern building puts demands on the need for quality elsewhere – the IT and other services have to work and be of a high standard.

Collaboration between IT and Estates are going to become more critical in coming years. The recent SusteIT report highlights the need for collaboration to implement sustainable ICT policies but there is greater scope for working together. One area is ‘intelligent buildings’ where a significant proportion of access to and environmental control of the building is managed by networked devices. All the examples I have seen of intelligent buildings have been of new builds – many institutions have listed buildings and it would be interesting to have an example of adding intelligence to such a building (with demonstrable savings). Other areas where collaboration would benefit are in the design of learning spaces and also the use of ICT to ensure that space within any given building can be used in a variety of different ways. UCISA is looking to build stronger links with our Estates counterparts in the coming year to try to ensure that each understands the requirements of the other’s professions so that they can then work together to ensure institutions’ estates offer the flexibility and functionality that will benefit their students, their staff and their local communities and businesses.

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