Smarter Spaces

Written by the Symplicity team

Maritime Resilience is a series of stories on how local organizations are adapting to COVID-19.

Smarter Spaces uses 3D scanning equipment to bring Nova Scotia culture to life online for house-bound audiences.
As a space management consulting group specializing in mobile 3D laser scanning, CAD space planning, fire and emergency evacuation mapping, the team at Smarter Spaces spent most of its time capturing the details of construction sites. The company uses 2D and 3D scanners to document details of a building while it’s under construction, creating a specific record of where everything is to help reduce change orders on renovations and streamline building maintenance down the road.

But when businesses, universities, schools and government buildings closed because of a province-wide state of emergency, the Smarter Spaces team quickly found itself locked out of the buildings where it had been working. A province-wide state of emergency was announced.

Co-founders Colin Gillis and Dan MacIntosh immediately met with team leaders to plan next steps to keep the company in business. They put their employees on furlough for the short term, then took steps to ensure they would have the tools to work remotely when the time came.
“We delivered technology equipment to each team member at their home. This helped reassure them that we weren’t going anywhere. Our goal was to thrive, and we wanted to be ready for action,” said Gillis.
Many of Smarter Spaces’ clients’ buildings were vacant. Gillis and MacIntosh realized this would be an ideal time to be on site doing 3D scanning to collect existing conditions, then processing the data from home. They set immediate plans in motion to see which clients would still allow access.

To supplement the company’s business, the leadership team re-evaluated how the company could share its skills and expertise to help others in a crisis environment.

“We thought about what we do best…we scan spaces. We asked ourselves what spaces, if scanned, could help others. Based on that, we pivoted to developing 3D virtual tours of cultural and heritage locations. With people working and learning from home, Smarter Spaces 3D virtual tours suddenly had a captive new audience,” Gillis explained.

The team began targeting museums, schools, universities, cultural and heritage sites to create 3D virtual tours.  Within a week, Smarter Spaces won its first cultural project to create 3D virtual tours of several art collections at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, including the Maud Lewis exhibit.

Smarter Spaces was able to bring its team back to about 80 percent of full-time capacity with all team members working to some degree. The team has been 3D scanning vacant buildings for renovations and construction for developers, schools and property managers. Alongside its core business, the team has also been creating 3D virtual scans for cultural sites, private schools and businesses.

“We went from capturing 3D virtual scans of existing conditions in the dusty climes of new construction and renovation sites to also capturing the nuances and subtle details of fine artwork and sculpture for everyone to enjoy online,” Gillis said.
Gillis added Smarter Spaces is committed to helping bring Nova Scotia virtually to house-bound audiences and has even been working with cultural organizations to help find sponsors to fund the 3D virtual tours. The company is supporting other small businesses through its networks and services.

“We’re doing whatever it takes to show the world Nova Scotia’s amazing heritage, arts and culture, not to mention the leading academic institutions. Just because people are stuck at home for now, doesn’t mean they can’t experience everything this region has to offer via 3D virtual experiences.”

WATCH: Smarter Spaces featured on CTV News Atlantic

Smarter Spaces is providing 3D scanning and virtual tour services for organizations across Nova Scotia.

Visit their website or social media to see their work.

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