What is remote facilities management?

Remote facilities management


In the context most relevant to facilities managers, remote monitoring refers to the management and control of a site’s devices by a central station. To the majority of people this will mean the management of CCTV and security systems.

For example, you’ll probably be familiar with a central station monitoring CCTV at a site when an alarm sounds – from there they’ll be able to move CCTV cameras to identify a threat, and also control an audio system to make an announcement directly to any intruders. And, importantly, the central station is located separately from the site – it’s ‘remote’.

But remote monitoring is not simply limited to CCTV. Nor is it just for security purposes such as the remote management of access control, or even keeping lone workers secure.

It’s a little known fact but high-tech and skilled central stations can manage a site’s environment, provide extensive risk management and offer a whole host of out of hour’s services. All of which make the running of a facility run incredibly smooth.

It’s always surprised me that facilities managers don’t make more of these opportunities that central stations, like Farsight, have to offer. I’d love to hear your thoughts on using remote facilities management – so leave me a comment below with your opinion on using a central station for something beyond CCTV and security!

For now, I’ve put together a few sample scenarios where remote facilities management could come in to action and potentially save businesses a small fortune in damages or day-to-day running costs.

Stopping a risk before the damage is irreversible

We can all think of a couple of situations where the outcome would have been a lot better if we had managed to get there earlier. A typical example: the basement of your facility is flooding, but the burst pipe or torrential weather only occurred at 8pm when there’s no one there to flag up the problem.

Get round to 9am the next day and people arrive for work to find the building is a health risk (there’s the potential of structural damage, risk of electric shocks, even gas leaks if a central area of the building floods). And, of course, the cost to make repairs could be huge.

Remote monitoring for facilities management, however, could have nipped the problem in the bud.  With a suitable system in place, the central station (which is in action 24/7, 365 days a year) will have been able to identify the flooding as soon as it started. This is made possible with cameras, alarm systems or environmental controls installed at your site and connected to the central station. As soon as the issue is confirmed, the central station will have a set procedure in place, which in most instances involves calling an emergency services (or emergency plumbers!), key holders and you – the facilities manager or site owner.

In unique situations

Of course, every incident is unique. But I actually mean that quality remote facilities management will never provide a one-size-fits-all solution to whatever issue you need to solve on site.

A prime example of this is a system we helped design for a police station:

  • The problem: The overnight cells at the police station were often being used for those arrested on drunk and disorderly and there was a high risk of inmates harming themselves whilst at the police station and unattended in their cells. Although police officers would patrol on a strict and regular basis, they could not provide a police officer to stand guard at each cell – the cost would be astronomical.
  • The solution: With a central station in place that provides 24 hour monitoring, the idea arose that each cell’s bed would be fitted with high-tech, discreet, heart monitors. If the monitor stopped picking up a signal whilst the inmate was presumably asleep, an alarm would be raised at the central station, which would trigger a series of procedures to ensure the inmate was safe and well.

Clearly this is an exceptional circumstance, but the scenario shows that remote monitoring can be adapted to all sorts of technology and situations.

When a site is unmanned

There are so many examples of unmanned sites that pose a significant risk or are at risk themselves, such as 24-hour petrol forecourts without staff in attendance overnight, solar farms or inactive construction sites. Each of these pose unique risks and remote facilities management combined with security could provide a great solution.

Let’s look at unmanned forecourts for example. Clearly there’s a high risk of fire if pumps are improperly used – so not only does CCTV need to be active to identify the improper use (along with video analytics, which you can find out more about in our company news) but the central station needs to have control of the petrol pumps to cut off the petrol supply immediately as necessary. This combination provides a hybrid use of security and site management to, again, stop a risk becoming a disaster.

If a site is unmanned for only a particular period during a day, or night, then remote monitoring can help there too. For example, they can offer out-of-hours call handling services.

In temperamental environments

There are a lot of sites that depend on very specific environments to keep them working at the optimum rate. Whether it’s an office looking to maintain a great working environment or a refrigerated area of a warehouse, it’s possible for a central station to monitor changes in environments and make the necessary changes. Find out more about systems control.

Video analytics - CCTVWhen a threat to a facility is moving

When an incident occurs, whether it’s a fire, a flood or an intruder, it’s essential that proactive steps be taken to prevent the threat from progressing through a facility. With the combination of CCTV video analytics, which actually predicts the course of a threat, and remote facilities management, the central station will be able to put a stop the threat’s progress by taking actions such as notifying the emergency services, activating sprinklers in specific areas, locking certain rooms and so on.

The list of situations where remote facilities management could come in to play really does go on, especially when put into action in combination with CCTV. But really, it’s about identifying the unique problem your facility faces and imagining how remote monitoring could provide a solution. By getting in touch with a central station from the word go, you may be surprised by the possibilities they can offer – to make your role as the facilities’ manager a lot easier!