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NASA applies GIS to its inner spaces

USA: The GIS team at NASA’s Langley Research Center is applying geospatial tools to the task of finding more efficient ways to allocate space at the research facility. The team has developed a tool — so far tagged with the name of Space Allocation Optimisation — that can be used to perform complex analysis on factors for efficiently assigning workspaces. It also can display potential scenarios for managers to consider in making plans.

The team first developed optimisation algorithms that take into account any factors considered important in allocating space, including the proximity of key personnel, amount of space required, cost of utilities and relative cost of new construction.

The first step was accomplished by developing an Extensible Markup Language (XML) schema to pull in data from numerous sources. Ball said the XML schema reduced the data preparation time for bringing in datasets from as much as two weeks of intensive effort to an automated process that takes approximately 30 minutes.

The second step was accomplished by connecting the data to the visualization tools offered by ESRI’s ArcGIS application.

The resulting application allows space utilisation managers to construct and evaluate various what-if scenarios. The effort received a boost in 2004 when the Langley Research Center was preparing for a major reorganisation that would involve relocating as many as 3,000 personnel and reducing average office space from 190 square feet per person to 125 square feet per person. Managers hoped to free 100 facilities for closing or demolition.