Businesses across the country are beginning to visualize what it may look like for employees to safely return to work. To create these plans, owners must be able to envision a strategy for the weeks and months ahead.

Geographic information systems (GIS) have been used for years to create, manage and analyze data about roadways, utility infrastructure and parcels of land. More recently, these tools are being used internally to map out indoor spaces. ArcGIS Indoors by Esri is one GIS that can bring indoor spaces to life. While these systems are critical for many projects and occasions, they are especially important now for the planning, peace of mind and response efforts that are arising as the country moves toward a new normal.


There are many factors for businesses and owners to consider as return-to-work plans are created. Some items include where the employees will sit; how much distance is between workspaces; what areas need to be closed off; and where proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies will be stored. Using a system like ArcGIS Indoors, everything from cubicles to bathrooms and conference rooms can be mapped out, providing visuals for a plan to be put in place.

Peace of Mind

During this time, it’s crucial to keep employees informed with plans and safety protocols while also providing tools that will help alleviate any doubts or concerns. Using indoor GIS, snapshots of office and cubicle layouts can be shared to demonstrate the actions being taken to keep workers safe, like extended distance between desks and a phased approach to increasing the number of employees in the office.

Response Effort

Another piece of the puzzle that many owners will likely have to address in the coming months is an emergency response plan for when someone in the office tests positive for the coronavirus. Using the ArcGIS Indoors 3D interactive view along with analytic tools, it’s easy to pan around, change floors, zoom in and out, search by names and even tie in Human Resources employee databases. These features allow a greater ability for noting where an employee or guest likely has been in the office in order to help identify and contact individuals who may have had close contact or been exposed.

Businesses, manufacturing facilities, airports, college campuses, hospitals and more can benefit from the applications and programs that are integrated within ArcGIS Indoors. By collaborating with a trusted partner to implement the software specific to your individual business needs, you can more easily navigate future facility management plans.


Data collected and analyzed today can help inform decision-making and solve a broad range of challenges for organizations in the future.

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Jake Stevenson is a project manager and consultant for geospatial technologies at 1898 & Co., part of Burns & McDonnell. He specializes in large-scale GIS project coordination, management and support that includes spatial analysis, data conversion, data collection, creation and maintenance of GIS databases, and mobile application development.