PenBay Solutions, mapping the world inside and out….

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Using innovative mapping technology, Maine-based PenBay Solutions is giving organizations and agencies a unique view inside their buildings and how they relate to the landscape around them. 

Remember the days when you used to carry a paper map in your car?  Before you ventured to an unfamiliar place most of us pulled out the map and tried to find the best route to travel (and then cursed as we tried to fold the map back up again!).  Now, paper maps are mostly a thing of the past and GPS has taken over as the navigational tool of choice. 

GPS is a great choice if you are navigating the outside world, but if you have ever tried to use one inside a building you may quickly find yourself lost.  While not being able to use a GPS inside a building isn’t always critical for individuals, there are many organizations and agencies that find non-existent or inaccurate in-building information a big challenge.

Given that there are over 100 million buildings and 60 billion square feet of interior space across the US alone, facilities are one of the greatest investments in the world.  In fact, in some urban areas it is common for there to be as much as six times more floor space than land area, leaving only about 20% of these cities mapped.    

Why does this matter?

Most of the developed world spends 80% of their time inside building walls, yet few of us think about the fact that there are many people in charge of our comfort, productivity and safety while we are inside.  Having little to no accurate information about these spaces is a constant challenge to the thousands of managers whose responsibilities include building interiors. 

For facility managers, real estate property owners, retail executives and public safety officials what happens on the inside of a building is critical.  They are often accountable for several enterprise-wide operations and under tremendous pressure to keep costs low, efficiencies high and facilities safe inside and out and if they are responsible for an entire campus, city, or portfolio of buildings the complexity increases significantly. 

Using location information to help

By using location information, coupled with details about the data points at that location, these managers and officials can have access to powerful maps to make their jobs easier and more successful.

A geographic information system (GIS) uses technology that allows facility executives to view detailed information about their facilities and surrounding landscape on an interactive map.  It also allows them to share information from that map with other departments or agencies that care about it, such as fire and police departments responding to a campus emergency with campus managers, town officials and emergency personnel using common information for a coordinated, effective response.   A GIS can also improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of facilities by revealing not only energy consumption but building performance. 

In fact, the use of a GIS helps us to understand the spatial aspects of every component of facility management workflows to decrease cost, increase productivity and sustainability, and save lives.  A GIS is a complementary technology that can be integrated with existing enterprise technologies and applications to give facility and executive managers the power to make better informed decisions. 

Some questions that a GIS for facilities can answer:

“Where is the most optimal location for our next retail store?”

"Are we using the space in our facilities in the most effective way?"

“Is our campus compliant with building codes and standards?”

"What is the most efficient workflow of my production facility?"

"How do we get employees or residents out of the building safely in the event of an emergency?"

 “How much energy am I using in each part of my building?”

“Facilities managers are finding GIS tools, which have been used successfully for many years…support a broad range of applications inside and outside of buildings, such as operations planning, emergency management, ADA compliance, safety and security planning, space utilization and optimization, and more.” ~ Jack Dangermond President of Esri

There are countless data sources already available that are focused on the built environment. Many of these data sets are more valuable if they are put on a map.  Once on a map, the ability to provide value to business processes increases dramatically for all the stages of the facility life cycle - site analytics; design and construction; space and occupancy; operations and maintenance; public safety and sustainability.

Some benefits of using a GIS for mapping facility data sets are:  

  • Grouping work orders by location across areas and buildings to reduce transportation and logistics cost
  • Visualizing energy consumption data at the room, building or enterprise level
  • Analyzing space use, availability and optimization across a campus or region
  • Conducting building condition assessments for inspections and asset inventory using handheld, location-aware devices
  • Visualizing proposed space or emergency planning scenarios

"Several of today's facility management challenges have a geographic context - work order management, public safety, retail site selection, security, and portfolio and risk management.  Answering these challenges using geographic information gives a new perspective to familiar problems and, therefore, allows facility and campus planners and managers to make better informed decisions." ~ Stu Rich, CTO of PenBay Solutions

PenBay Solutions (PenBay), headquartered in Brunswick Maine, helps clients use GIS technology for facility life cycle management across the US and around the world.  For the City of Boston, PenBay has been working to extend the City’s current GIS to understand, manage and optimize public buildings and their surroundings to improve property management, space planning, energy management and public safety.  The Fire Department of New York has worked with PenBay to obtain the largest GIS repository of detailed building floor plans in the world for emergency action plans and response.   For both University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Kuwait University, PenBay provided each campus with the GIS tools necessary to successfully perform a range of facility management activities from design and construction to space, operations and maintenance management.

To learn more about PenBay’s work go to: