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Postsecondary Education

NCES 2006-160
May 2006

2.1 Basic Database Principles

Facilities Inventory Systems Contain Data About Buildings and About Spaces Within Buildings. A facilities inventory may incorporate data about many types of structures and physical assets, the most important of which are buildings and spaces. Building information includes such items as gross area, assignable area, and replacement cost. Space information includes such items as space area, space use, and number of stations. Required and optional data elements for both buildings and spaces are defined below and in chapter 5.

Each Building and Space Needs a Unique Identifier. The initial step in a facilities inventory is to assign each building and space a unique code to identify a “record” or set of data fields within the inventory. These identifiers are then used to link spaces to buildings and to link the facilities inventory records to other institutional information such as plant asset records, the registrar’s course schedule, and equipment inventories.

Each Building and Space Record Has Several Fields of Data. Each building or space requires a separate data “field” for each type or element of information. For a given space, its unique space identification (building, floor, and space number), space use category, organizational assignment, and area are required types of data. (See chapter 5 for a full discussion of required and optional data.) Some examples of optional inventory items that may be important to an institution’s space management and utilization study needs are the number of occupants a space can accommodate, architectural features, suitability for specific uses, and the identification of the “disparate use” of a space (e.g., a space designed as a laboratory but used as an office must be recorded as an office). Each of these pieces of information is recorded in a separate field within the space record. Merging of different kinds of information into a single field should be avoided in all cases. For example, marrying the space use “office” with the rank of the occupant, “professor,” to create a space use of “professor’s office” makes analyzing office space of people other than professors difficult. Keeping “office” and “professor” separate enables greater analytic flexibility.

This Manual Provides Basic Coding Structures to Which Institutions Can Add. The required data described in this manual constitute the lowest common denominator, i.e., a set of definitions and codes that is as simple as possible while still covering the range of building and space information essential to any facilities inventory database.