Indoor Maps Do More Than Guide People…They Build Communities
The importance of place and proximity for people when traveling indoors.
In the era of constant connection, we’re used to getting information at the push of a button. Instant updates from friends and family, online ordering, same day deliveries, rideshare services like Uber and Lyft…the list goes on. Essentially, technology has made life easier, esspecially when it comes to getting where we need to go. GPS services like Waze have made printed maps obsolete because we no longer have to think about where we’re headed…until we go indoors.
In large corporate facilities, sports arenas, and complex health systems, finding your way can feel like a throwback to the days before smartphones. We’re lost, confused, and hopelessly frustrated. Depending on the situation, we’re also under pressure to get there quickly.
What if we said you could give your visitors a better experience? More so, what if we told you that you could bring people together and build stronger, more connectected communities? People want to be connected and in-the-know, and one of the foundational elements of doing so is understanding place, position, and proximity. Indoor location platforms which include indoor maps, wayfinding software, and indoor positioning technology (IPS) can help you do just that. And, the truth is, it’s not that difficult to implement.
What is Indoor Wayfinding?
Actually, indoor wayfinding is a lot like outdoor wayfinding. In the same way that you look up a business’s street address on Google Maps and get driving directions to its location, you can look up a department or office inside of a building. The difference is that indoor mapping takes cues from a very modern idea: the Internet of Things (IoT), and helps you get directions within a confined space where GPS signals aren’t strong enough to work.
Indoor mapping, indoor wayfinding, and indoor positiong systems allow us to position people and objects in closed environments. Basically, these systems use sensors and mobile devices to track the location of an asset (people, places, and things) within an indoor space.
How does it work?
Previous indoor mapping technologies, which relied on various data sources, from GPS to WiFi to ultrasound, all had limitations. Alone they couldn’t accurately calculate distance, travel time, and simply weren’t reliable enough to provide consumers enough value to drive adoption. But the technology has advanced significantly over the past three years and the newest indoor mapping systems have solved those challenges.
Systems now rely on a variety of data sources to accomplish indoor tracking. LogicJunction’s system is a hybrid, merging Wi-Fi, bluetooth, and geomagnetic data together to provide highly accurate positioning using less hardware than other systems. The net result, however, is a map that shows you where you are in a building relative to other key points, just like an outdoor map. And like an outdoor map, smart devices play a critical role in allowing you to chart your location as you move through space.
Why Indoor Maps Make Your Communities Stronger
Indoor maps are a useful tool, but how do they make communities stronger?
Most importantly, indoor maps bring people together both literally and figuratively. At the core of these systems are digital maps and routing software that help people travel to and from landmarks within an indoor space. Not only can you experience the physical elements of a space (see, touch, sound, and smell), digital systems augment the experience, so it’s more personalized.
Another component of these systems is the data. With data, comes responsibility. Organizations collect anonymous data about how people interact with their space. This data helps them create even more personalized experiences, but also allows them to make informed decisions once they see how people move within their environments.
Building intelligent spaces requires integration. How can the best-of-breed systems work together to deliver the most powerful insights and features. Well, indoor maps are at the core of any location-based system, because no matter what you’re talking about…asset tracking, smart lighting, space occupancy…you need a map and technology that can provide routes. And when those elements come together, you have the ability to design a consumer experience that builds communities within the walls of your space.
Let’s say you work in a hospital, and the hospital has decided to implement indoor mapping and wayfinding system. I know what you’re thinking, “why doesn’t my hospital have a system like this?” However, it’s not unusual. Hospitals like Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Summa Health, Sarasota Memorial, and Brigham and Women’s are all early adopters of these systems. Like large corporate buildings, hospitals have miles of identical corridors, each leading to lobbies, waiting areas, and wings with identical patient rooms. Since hospitals have strict hygiene requirements, identifiable decor that could give people more context to their location, is kept to a minimum.
Add in that many people are operating under extreme stress when visiting a hospital, and you have less than optimal experience.
Indoor mapping systems allows patients, visitors, and even hospital workers to make sense of a large, complex facility and more easily get to where they need to be when they need to be there. They allow you to chart a direct route to your desired location, cueing you with key landmarks and easy-to-follow paths and routes, just like GPS outdoors. And when people can relax a bit about their visit, it’s easier for you to build a better relationship with them. For healthcare, the return on investment comes from soaring patient experience scores and improved efficiencies from operations.
The benefit of being able to take a direct route from your home to a new location, like a meeting space in an office, is significant. Indoor mapping systems help people quickly find their way from one location to the next — quickly and painlessly. Even employees can benefit from having more streamlined routes across large campuses. In healthcare this is critical especially as a new employee working rounds and responding to emergency calls.
But the benefits extend well beyond healthcare.
Think about the last time you were rushing to a critical meeting and couldn’t find the meeting room to save your life. You blew in like a hurricane and looked rushed–not the most desirable impression to make on your customer. Or how about the last time you invited a potential partner to a conference in your building and they walked into the meeting frustrated because they parked across campus and meeting room location changed last minute to accommodate more participants.
Whether you’re an employee or visitor, being lost and frustrated starts everyone off on the wrong foot, making it that much harder to change a bad experience into a positive one. Indoor mapping systems are an easy way to reverse that trend and make everyone’s interactions easier and more productive, from the moment they walk through your doors.
At Sarasota Memorial Hospital, the topic of employee navigation often came up in onboarding surveys. Once the hospital launched LogicJunction’s blue dot mobile wayfinding app, questions relating to getting lost on campus decreased by 75%.
Spatial data is important. If you can see how people are using your space, you can also see how they can use it better. Interactive smart maps, for example, can show energy usage in a particular area of your facility and you can use that data to make informed decisions about reducing waste and improving your bottom line.
Your space as a resource. Smart maps allow you to be strategic about how you utilize the rooms in your building. Do you need more conference rooms, employee hoteling pods, or other common areas? Or does your team need access to view room availability, amenities, and location so they can pick the best space to have a meeting? Indoor maps enable you to accomplish all of those things and more. They also can be integrated with smart lighting systems and occupancy software to provide robust data for your eco-friendly and connected workplace.
Safety and Security
Indoor mapping systems allow you to spot major problem areas inside of a building and get to them quickly. Let’s say, for example, that your security team was alerted about an issue by Human Resources. The challenge, however, is that they’re not entirely sure how to get from Point A to Point B, quickly and safely. In the time it takes them to figure it out, the problem could escalate.
Integration with a partner like 911 Cellular, connect LogicJunction’s indoor mapping system to a robust security platform allowing your team to assess the location of the incident, provide the quickest (and safest) way to get there, including providing a route for the public to leave the area. Emergency coordinates can also be shared with local law enforcement agencies in real-time.
If your employees feel safe in their environment, they’re going to have higher morale. They know that you care about them and that you’re going to handle threats quickly and effectively with their most important needs of safety and security in mind first.
Common Interests and Activities
The ability to guide a person to their location, the nearest parking facility — AND PROVIDE turn-by-turn walking directions indoors solves a significant challenge. But leveraging location parameters captured by indoor mapping systems allows you to further personalize the experience by capitalzing on common interests and activities. Location-based technologies not only provide you richer data to so, they improve consumer engagement by helping people connect.
Alerting visitors of promotions or free offers, triggering content or other information that will be helpful to them, or asking for feedback and input are features that give you the opportunity to personalize and tailor the experience to consumer needs. Indoor mapping systems also help you connect people to another. Quite often, you can share your location with a co-worker that you’re meeting at the airport, a partner that’s arriving for a meeting, or a friend or family member at the hospital. And what drives community more than establishing those connections? Delivering information to the right person, in the right place, at the right time, using location-based systems, like LogicJunction, make this all possible.
Creating Indoor Maps that Work
If you want to create an indoor map, you have to think beyond static CAD drawings of yesterday, and picture it more as a dynamic (living and breathing) view of your building.
Indoor maps are tools that allow users to understand their location and proximity in relation to other people, places, and things. Indoor maps must be multi-dimensional to work well, leveraging technology that can enhance a basic electronic view of a building’s floor plans.
Define Your Goals
The best place to start is to define your goals. It might seem strange to think of goals in relation to a map, but it’s actually critical in selecting a digital mapping solution that works for your organization’s needs.
First, start with understanding the use cases you want to support. For example, maps can show users different views and landmarks depending on your objectives. They can also offer different features based on the needs of the users you are supporting. For example, if your goal is to be more effective about your use of space, you could connect your map to monitor IoT devices in real-time, giving you a better picture of how certain rooms or pieces of equipment are used throughout the day. Or in a public transportation space, such an airport, you might want to provide travelers easy access to security line wait times, walking routes to their gate, and other amenities like nearest food and restrooms.
Alternately, maps can be used to improve security procedures by automatically alerting people in the building if there’s an emergency situation, or routing employees to the nearest emergency exit and check-in location during an evacuation. So you see how starting with your goals helps you clearly identify your needs.
Choose Your Platform
Once you know your objective and use cases you want to support, it will be much easier to choose the platform and vendor for your indoor mapping system. There are many entry-level digital mapping systems that are available that provide an entry point for organizations to get started with indoor mapping. At LogicJunction, our responsive web-based indoor mapping platform not only gives organizations a digital map of their space and exterior grounds, it also provides software that routes people through the space in the most efficient way possible. User’s don’t need to download a mobile app to get the benefits because the system can be used on any web or mobile browser. And, of course, if you’d like a mobile app, we can do that too via our Web Plus or Blue Dot Mobile App.
You’re next decision is whether to use free mapping tools, select a mapping service provider, or select a vendor who specializes in delivering indoor mapping and wayfinding systems. A free tool usually requires you to upload your mapping data to an indoor mapping platform and allows you to refine your map from there. Paid platforms will charge you to create a map for you by creating a digital rendering of interior and exterior of the building without much opportunity to tailor the map view to your brand or, more importantly, your indoor space.
Our recommendation is to select a vendor who specializes in delivering these systems because you’ll reap the rewards of maps specialized to your organization’s needs - such as branding, routing algorithms, seamless outdoor to indoor directions, integrations with GPS, rideshare, and others, and a content management system to support on-going updates. Not to mention, there’s so much to know about indoor map creation, that’s it difficult to try to build one yourself.
Collect Your Data
As you begin your research process, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of the size of the areas that require indoor maps. You should begin sourcing square footage information from your facilities team. Once you have size information, you’ll be able to obtain cost estimates from providers which will allow to plan budget for the system. Size information will be referenced on floor plans and CAD drawings, which will also be beneficial to share with your vendors to give them a perspective of your space.
Other data that will be important for your to collect will be a list of all points-of-interest and landmarks that will be exposed within your system. You may have this data stored within a building management system already, or might have to build it from scratch. Be sure to include things like restrooms, sitting areas, water fountains, and parking facilities and whether locations are public or privately accessible.
Transition into Wayfinding
We’ve prepared this checklist to help you evaluate vendors in the wayfinding space that can provide both indoor maps and the technology to support wayfinding.
We understand the true power that indoor maps and wayfinding systems can unlock for organizations. We also know that to select the best system, you need a thorough understanding of the technology so you can make the right choice.for your organization. That’s where we come in. We’re proud to offer one of the most comprehensive and scalable indoor navigation systems to customers just like you.
Are you ready to begin building stronger, more connected communities? Get in touch today to find out how we can help you create those connections through the power of indoor location technology.