Keeping Track of a Changing Campus

May 26, 2004

Nick Marinello
Phone: (504) 865-5714

Bryan Snow shows the view of a webcam overlooking the University Center construction site They're moving earth in front of Gibson Hall, fencing off the University Center and raising girders at the site of the new Zemurray Hall. With all the construction activity on the uptown campus it's been a challenge to keep track of what's going on. Until now.

Thanks to a new interactive website put together by the Capital Projects and Real Estate Group, members of the Tulane community and their neighbors can now not only monitor current construction on campus, they can also anticipate future work and register feedback on how those projects may be affecting them.

"Any capital project is going to have an impact on everyone on campus," says Mike Jester, director of capital projects. "The UC is the most dramatic example because we had to relocate all its functions."

In order to minimize adverse impact, the group turned to Bryan Snow, business and systems analyst, to develop an online site to assist students, faculty, staff and neighbors in following campus projects.

"The site provides an on-demand framework to allow users to find out about a construction project whenever they have time to go ahead and pull down up-to-date information," says Snow, who agrees with Jester in that "what we do can sometimes be disruptive to the community."

According to Snow, the website, which was launched in March, has four components: project information, an issue tracker, live 24-hour views of construction sites and a link to subscribe to a mailing list. Project information includes schedules, PowerPoint presentations that were made to the Tulane Board and "noise forecasts" that explains all the racket coming from construction sites.

The information is visually supplemented with live views of the construction sites through strategically placed webcams. This information and more can be delivered to any user's e-mail address on a regular basis, once he or she signs up for the mailing list. For Snow, however, perhaps the most exciting component of the site is the interactive issue tracker.

"It's great to have a mechanization so that users can provide us feedback on construction," he says. "Not only are they getting the information from the site, they also are passing information back to us."
Using the tracking utility on the website, any user can send an e-mail message voicing a question, concern or complaint, and that message is automatically distributed to a handful of administrators in relevant departments on campus, including capital projects, auxiliary services and student affairs.

"We can let everybody know about the problem, no matter who ultimately resolves it," says Snow, who also is involved in facilitating his department's strategic planning and public relations efforts. "Everyone can collaborate online and then send a response to the user. It is the most efficient way for them to have an issue resolved."

The Capital Projects and Real Estate Group is a relatively new department, formed last September when the construction management and contracting group was moved out of the Department of Facilities Services and combined with the Department of Real Estate into a new entity, under the leadership of Rick Jones, senior associate vice president for Capital Projects and Real Estate Group. The website can be found at

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000