IBM Helps Cities Nationwide Make the Grade for K-12 School Districts

Districts use IBM technology to modernize campuses

ARMONK, N.Y. - 28 Jan 2013: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced new projects with three of the nation’s largest school districts that are helping to offset budget cuts by creating more efficient, sustainable and profitable campuses.

Raising the IQ of School Buildings

The School District of Palm Beach County (SDPBC) in Florida, Portland Public Schools (PPS) in Oregon and Clark County School District (CCSD) in Nevada are using IBM Smarter Building technology to reduce operating costs, generate new revenue streams and increase returns on invested capital. The software helps each of these school systems make smarter decisions on how their physical assets, such as school buildings and facilities, are used. 

With more than 95 percent of schools across the United States experiencing significant budget cuts as high as 20 percent, schools are learning to do more with less resources than ever.1 To make this easier, IBM technology is creating new opportunities for each of these school districts to more efficiently use existing facilities.  

By discovering how efficiently physical assets are being used – and finding new uses for its buildings – schools are able to reallocate resources to instructional purposes, save costs and have the potential to generate new revenue opportunities. 

IBM Helps School District of Palm Beach County Increase Revenues

With nearly 178,000 students and 4,500 hundred acres of land, the School District of Palm Beach County is the 11th largest school district in the United States. Facing increased pressure to cut costs and add revenue to offset reduced budgets, SDPBC used campus vacancies during non-school hours to provide nearly 3000 room and building leases annually to commercial and non-profit organizations. Although the program generates additional revenue for the district, the manual leasing and contract processes proved to be time consuming and expensive to maintain. 

To better manage this cost and reduce administrative paperwork, SDPBC implemented IBM TRIRIGA across its 187 schools. Since rolling out the solution, the district has increased leasing revenue and it is expected to generate $4.5 million this year by better utilizing its buildings, streamlining the leasing process and modernizing its management capabilities. 

“The ability for the School District of Palm Beach County to generate additional revenue is incredibly impactful, since those funds are reinvested toward improving campuses and providing the best education tools to our students, including the highest quality teachers,” said Joseph Sanches, Chief of Support Operations for SDPBC. “IBM’s smarter buildings solution allows us to manage costs across building equipment and maintenance, maximize our facilities usage, and ensure a fair return on the Palm Beach County taxpayers' investment.” 

Portland Public Schools Turn to IBM to Help Modernize Campuses

The foundation for creating smarter schools starts with doing more with what already exists. Buildings within Portland Public Schools, the largest district in the Pacific Northwest, are on average nearly 70-years-old. This makes bringing modern technologies into classrooms across the nine million square feet school district to be increasingly challenging. Using IBM TRIRIGA, PPS is able to prioritize modernization efforts throughout their schools, which is a critical element when determining budgets. The smarter buildings software also helps PPS create more intelligent, predictive and efficient maintenance policies and practices.  

As a result, PPS can now quickly and accurately identify locations where structural updates are required within classrooms, increase the speed at which schools fix broken lights, pipes and other infrastructure, and predict when general repairs are needed. For example, if a water main breaks in one of the schools, the system automatically alerts the maintenance department about the location and type of problem, enabling a quick response with the appropriate tools for repairs. The increased awareness about repairs across the 81 schools in the district has enabled PPS to reduce facilities management costs by 15 percent while improving speed of modernization by 46 percent.  

“Updating our campus facilities is a significant priority for the district, but the time and resources required to do this effectively can be demanding,” said Andy Fridley, Data Analyst of Portland Public Schools. “By finding a quick and efficient way to identify and predict which areas on campus require attention, we’re able to fast-track our modernization efforts while also achieving cost savings on reactive maintenance.” 

Clark County School District Works with IBM to Increase Staff Efficiency

IBM’s smarter buildings technology can provide any system with the analytics capability for predictive maintenance, but it also provides the tools to help staff make smarter, more efficient decisions. That’s what Clark County School District in Las Vegas was looking for when they chose IBM to help update their outdated maintenance systems and practices. As the fifth largest school district in the country, CCSD is responsible for operating safe and efficient schools across 36 million square feet of building space. IBM Maximo software allows the district to prioritize, respond to and repair more than 110,000 work orders generated each year at CCSD’s 392 schools and administrative buildings, across 8,000 square miles.  

Analytics also give CCSD the insights needed to predict and prevent future maintenance issues. During one instance, the school noticed a slight change in usage of one building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. This fluctuation was analyzed against normal usage and an alert about the abnormality was sent to staff, preventing a massive electrical issue that would have caused thousands of students to be transferred.  

“IBM’s software enabled Clark County to go from just reacting to emergency work orders to making data-driven, even predictive decisions on maintenance requests,” said Cynthia Atterberry, Work Management Coordinator, Clark County School District. “This allows us to provide a safer and more efficient environment for our 310,000 students, because in some cases we are able to get ahead of repairs before they are needed or a crisis situation arises.” 

CCSD is using IBM’s Smarter Buildings software to gain visibility across its entire 8,000 square mile district. As a result, they significantly increased the percentage of actual billable hours spent on campus improvements and repairs – from 34 percent to more than 50 percent.  

IBM Smarter Buildings technology includes IBM TRIRIGA and IBM Maximo software. The solutions improve the operational, financial and environmental performance of real estate assets and operations. The software also provides a comprehensive suite of applications to manage the real estate lifecycle of an organization with pre-defined management processes and extensive Web-based configuration management tools. 

IBM's strategy is to seamlessly integrate technology into the world around us to drive greater intelligence on this Smarter Planet.  The world around us is changing, and technology is no longer a siloed area, but a fundamental element to the growth and success of every business. Everything from buildings, to transportation systems, manufacturing, healthcare and cities themselves are becoming smarter. Launched in 2008, IBM Smarter Planet has been focused on driving this next era of information technology and its impact on business and society. 

IBM Smarter Education

Smarter Buildings is part of IBM's Smarter Education portfolio of solutions for K-12 schools and higher education institutions. IBM’s efforts with education are focused on improving student success, enabling teacher effectiveness, enhancing operational efficiency and accelerating innovation. We partner with institutions to apply advanced technology - such as predictive and prescriptive analytics, cloud computing, mobility and collaboration - to address the challenges facing the education industry. Through our consulting services, IBM works with states, regions and countries to align educational systems with employer, workforce and economic development goals to build the skills and citizens for tomorrow's world.  

For more information on IBM's Smarter Buildings solutions, visit:

For more information on IBM Facilities and Real Estate Management solutions, visit:

To view a webcast on demand on “Smarter Facility and Asset Management for Education and other Industries,” visit:

To learn more about IBM Smarter Planet in person, register to attend IBM PULSE 2013: 

1Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, 2011:

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Buildings used by the Portland, Oregon, public school system are on average nearly 70-years-old. This heater is an example of some of the aging infrastructure the schools are dependent on to maintain a safe and comfortable learning environment for students. With IBM Smarter Building technology Portland Public Schools are improving modernization efforts and more efficiently prioritizing repairs. (Photo courtesy of Portland Public Schools)

Schools across the U.S. are discovering that bringing great intelligence and connectedness into a building's operations can go a long way toward creating more efficient, sustainable and profitable campuses. [Source: IBM Curiosity Shop]

This cracked windowsill at a school building in Portland, Oregon, is an example of the types of structural repairs needed across Portland Public School buildings. With IBM Smarter Building technology Portland Public Schools are reducing facilities management costs by 15 percent while improving speed of modernization by 46 percent. (Photo courtesy of Portland Public Schools)

This is a picture of one of the 81 buildings used by the Portland, Ore., public school system. On average these buildings are nearly 70-years-old. Using IBM Tririga, Portland Public Schools can prioritize building modernization efforts, a critical element when determining budgets for repairing aging infrastructure. (Photo courtesy of Portland Public Schools)

With nearly 178,000 students and 4,500 acres of land, the School District of Palm Beach County is the 11th largest school district in the United States. This is a picture of Suncoast High School in Palm Beach County--a math, science and engineering magnet school, rated by Newsweek as one of the top ten public high schools in the country. The School District of Palm Beach County is using IBM Smarter Building technology to increase profits generated from their non-school hour building and room rental program. Since rolling out the IBM solution, the program has increased leasing revenue and is expected to generate $4.5 million this year, providing a much needed source of funding for the district.

Clark County School District in Nevada is the fifth largest school district in the country. This map indicates the locations of the 392 schools and administrative buildings across the 8,000 square mile school district. IBM Maximo software has streamlined CCSD's method for prioritizing, responding and repairing more than 110,000 work orders generated each year across the school district. (Photo courtesy of Clark County School District)

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