October 18, 2018 0

What Is “The Cloud”?

Posted by:Bridie Kruck onOctober 18, 2018

“The Cloud” is a term many folks have only become familiar with over the past few years, and it’s particularly new to the facilities management arena. The cloud refers to a digital data storage system that carries copies of your information dispersed over hundreds, if not thousands, of servers worldwide.

Essentially, the cloud combines the storage capacities of all of these computers into a single, untouchable, repository for your information. Put another way, the cloud lets you keep copies of your files, pictures, and other vital records on multiple platforms such that if a disaster were to happen and your local files were to be destroyed, your information would remain safe and secure despite the loss of your own equipment. Or so the theory goes.

The cloud has proven itself an incredibly useful tool with dozens of exciting applications across several different industries. If you’ve ever used Google Drive, Dropbox, or even Netflix–you’ve actually already used the cloud! Let’s look at how this technology can be effectively implemented in your facility to make its management easier, more efficient, and safer.

How Can Implementing Cloud Based Technologies Help My Facility?

Since the inception of Cloud based technology, many government agencies have adopted its use and have even been at the forefront of some of its more creative applications. In the U.S. the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has been tracking how agencies have been adopting the Cloud, and what the effects of that adoption have been.

Cost Efficiency 

The CRS found that one of the greatest advantages associated with cloud computing has been a significant reduction in IT related expenses. Many organizations don’t require a full IT department, or don’t require complex computer systems – but what systems they do require has up to this point necessitated the employment of a full time IT staff, plus special gear and equipment. Using the cloud to run systems remotely, and to respond to problems within those systems remotely, has resulted in significant savings for many of the agencies surveyed.

Likewise, certain cloud systems allow complex programs to be run in distant facilities with the results of those systems being relayed to the users elsewhere. What does that mean in plain English?

It means that a facilities manager can leverage the cloud’s computing power to run complex software instead of having to buy all of the software, servers and terminals and house them onsite. Consider a cloud-based service like WhosOnLocation; a comprehensive digital solution to manage everything from visitor identity verification, pre-registrations, the dissemination of visitor policies, security alerts, mustering and evacuation reports, and the ability to account for everyone on-site in an emergency with manual roll calls. This technology also facilitates things like collaboration and insight across departments in an emergency, and more, including a mobile responsive webpage for all of these features – the software install, updates, licenses, etc. For such a service to run locally would come with astronomical up-front costs with heavy recurring maintenance costs, too.

Availability and Ease of Access

Because of the Cloud’s character as an off-site, digital, utility – most cloud systems have technical support available for users round the clock, unlike many traditional IT setups. Further, Cloud enabled technologies can be easily moved from one location to another without the necessity of disassembling and reinstalling complicated equipment. In short, cloud based technologies are available on virtually all platforms and at almost any time.

But How Does This Make My Facility Safer?

Cloud technology can be applied in a facility management context in a number of ways. Physical security systems benefit from things like remote recording, where cameras are backed up and information gathered from things like digital ID-badge readers can be stored off-site, beyond potential interference.

Beyond obvious things like cloud connected door locks and monitoring systems, though, cloud based technologies can also help prevent other kinds of problems. If a room is outfitted with cloud enabled environmental sensors, for instance, it can inform you when the room is on fire or that a pipe has burst and it’s flooding or trigger an automatic alarm summoning emergency services and start the evacuation process for the site. And once outside, the cloud can help account for your people with services such as WhosOnLocation. In this way cloud technologies can help turn a major catastrophe into a minor one–and save you time, money, and headache in the process. And that is how the cloud can help make your facilities safer.

About the Author

Blaine J. Hoffmann, MS OSHM is an entrepreneur, podcaster, business coach, and a leader in the field of workplace safety and health. With over 20 years of industry experience, a decade as a corporate consultant, he has become highly proficient at designing, implementing and sustaining organizational management systems. Blaine is consistently on the cutting-edge of safety best-practices and industry standards. Click here to read more from Blaine on LinkedIn.

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