By Devon Maresco
Military bases are beehives of activity at all hours of the day and night. They’re home to a variety of individual buildings, from administrative facilities and hospitals to housing and commissaries. Bases need to support a broad array of activities within the confines of these spaces, which makes a focus on military space utilization imperative. After all, the bounds of the base only stretch on so far.
Thinking about base operations as an ecosystem sets the tone for military space utilization. Everything needs to happen within the confines of the base, which means it is important to maximize the accessibility, usefulness, and availability of buildings. With different groups utilizing different facilities at different times—and for different purposes—it becomes imperative to ensure spaces are well-orchestrated to support all facets of base operations.
What is space utilization?
Space utilization is the practice of using a space in an optimal fashion. It’s juxtaposed against availability. If a briefing room is available 12 hours a day and is in-use for six of those hours, it has a 50% utilization rate. The goal is space efficiency: to determine the optimal utilization rate and to strive for it as often as possible.
In military applications, the concept of space utilization goes beyond occupancy. Cost also factors in. Does the cost of facilities justify the benefit they bring to base ops? For example, if more soldiers live off-base than on-base, does it make sense to have two barracks at 40% occupancy or one barracks at 80% occupancy? The question becomes: how much does it cost to maintain space factors while considering usage and purpose?
Utilization is all about making the most of space. In applications where space is precious, costly, or dynamic, it becomes an important metric for governance. On military basis, it’s all three.
The benefits of space utilization for the military
Tracking and optimizing space utilization on-base is a cornerstone of effective operations. Unused or under-utilized space represents waste, which not only stunts efficiency, it also takes away from other, more deserving applications. On the flipside, optimal utilization confers a wide range of benefits to everyone from the personnel using the space, to the leadership managing it. Some of the benefits of tracking utilization include:
- More efficient use of facilities, from both cost and operations standpoints
- Better understanding of space allocation and utilization
- Purposeful allocation of space to support the needs of base occupants
- Context for broader facilities data such as utilization and occupancy
- Insights and opportunities to repurpose or reallocate space
- Smarter spatial layout of the base, to streamline accessibility
Monitoring and managing utilization across all spaces on-base clues administrators in on how to make the most of it. As different needs for space arise or the dynamic nature of base ops changes, it becomes easier to plan for and allocate space, without up-ending what already works.
How does military space utilization software help?
Military bases are home to multiple groups of people and a multitude of spaces to support them. Software helps organize and contextualize the many spaces on base and their relationship to these groups. The result is better a better balance between space and use.
For example, administrators can track the utilization rates of the shooting range and coordinate range time between training groups, specialists, and open slots. If the range is 60% occupied during the week, with 90% occupancy occurring at 1100 hours, facility managers can coordinate the space around those who need it, without disrupting other groups. Software makes it easy to not only observe these trends, but to plan solutions alongside them.
Military space utilization software also helps to contextualize space in the context of cost. It’s easy to pull up the annual costs for a specific facility or segment of base ops and see if the spaces dedicated to these operations justify their costs. If the Hangar B is only 22% occupied but accounts for a full 16% of the base’s available space, it’s a sign of cost inefficiency. Again, software makes these figures readily available and can help contextualize a solution to improve utilization and cost efficiency.
Put space utilization at the forefront of base operations
Military bases need to be everything to everyone on them—whether it’s providing living facilities, research work, recreational activities, or medical care. To fulfill these lofty expectations takes emphasis on space utilization. How can base administrators ensure each building serves its role?
Moreover, a military base needs to be the pinnacle of efficiency. With people flexing into and out of spaces for different reasons and at different times, the burden of support shifts to individuals managing these facilities. Identifying demand and planning for utilization takes foresight, which is why utilization software has become a core standard for on-base facilities management.