Property managers have a new tool to help them battle rising vacancy rates and manage their buildings more effectively — an online database that captures tenant leasing information, occupancy rates and even emergency information.

Chicago-based MRSA Architects and Planners has rolled out the searchable online database called smartBook, which provides access to archived architectural drawings with floor plans and information about available space, as well as leasing data.

Building measurements can be used to calculate rent adjustments and make financial projections, says Mark Schaefer, principal and owner of the firm. Current market conditions require property managers and brokers to have critical leasing and structural information immediately available, he says.

“Rising unemployment rates and a continued recession are causing a marked decrease in occupancy rates and investment sales volume across all sectors of commercial real estate.” Property owners can use the leasing data to drive negotiations and make deals, Schaefer says.

Too many property and leasing managers are still using archaic methods, searching through massive binders called lease books to access detailed property information, notes Michael Semenzin, partner with MRSA Architects and Planners.

The new database helps companies update files more easily, and allows facility managers to retrieve information for particular buildings, floors or suites, he says. That, in turn, can save time and improve performance, according to the database developers.