Indoor mapping is possibly one of the most important location navigation systems for today’s buildings. With the ability to enhance the visitor experience and deliver rich insights to building operators, indoor maps offer a variety of benefits in a host of environments.
Organisations are using indoor mapping systems to map large buildings, such as office complexes, airports, educational establishments and shopping malls.
From access to timely location-based communications in retail settings (think spot discount alerts and flash sales) to vital personal safety notifications during emergency situations (directions to the nearest fire exit or assembly point), an indoor mapping system offers numerous advantages.
What exactly is an indoor mapping system?
Indoor maps work via a smartphone app, literally placing wayfinding power in the palm of the user’s hand. In other words, they help you navigate your way around an indoor space, locating facilities and other points of interest. But there is so much more to an indoor mapping system than wayfinding.
Indoor maps use a range of technologies to determine the location of an indoors-based device or facility. Whilst an indoor mapping system shares some of the same features as GPS tracking, it isn’t reliant on satellite tracking technology. This is because satellite waves don’t have the strength to penetrate buildings.
Indoor mapping instead uses location-based technologies. These help businesses identify the positions of users and the facilities, destinations and other assets they wish to be united with.
If you are wondering how to create indoor navigation maps, a range of technologies will come into play. These may include:
Proximity positioning is all about establishing direct contact between a receiver, and a device. A typical example is determining the distance between a WiFi access point and a smartphone. WiFi access points are very effective at tracking the position of assets.
Trilateration positioning is used to ascertain the location of an object with the use of various reference points. These points are usually radio wave emitters, and signal strength is used to determine the distance between two objects.
This technology uses signal strength measurements across various venues to determine the position of an object. This usually involves measuring signal strengths together with coordinates for each, saving the information to a database. As new devices are added to a network, their location is mapped in line with specific coordinates that have already been collected.
Inside a venue, motion positioning can be determined using smartphone technology, including accelerometers, gyroscope sensors and magnetometers. Data is collected from all three to provide accurate device coordinates.
Near-field communication (NFC) tags can be strategically placed throughout a property. When devices come within range of a tag, the smartphone position is updated in real time.
Bluetooth low energy devices
Bluetooth low energy devices, also known as beacons, are small devices powered by batteries. They emit Bluetooth signals, allowing object locations to be accurately pinpointed.
Various combinations of these technologies, and others still, make indoor mapping possible. For example, Quick Response (QR) codes packed with data about locations, such as extensive floorplan maps, can be paired with proximity positioning to provide building visitors with comprehensive indoor maps featuring highly accurate information, helping them locate multiple points of interest within their indoor environment.
What are the benefits of indoor navigation maps?
Building visitors, regular occupants and operational personnel will all draw advantage from an indoor mapping system.
The benefits of indoor maps for visitors
Convenience is one of the clearest benefits for visitors making use of indoor maps. The technology can be applied to virtually any setting.
Indoor maps provide crucial venue information, especially for first time visitors. Whether it’s locating facilities, specific outlets, boarding gates or hospital departments, visitors are equipped with their own personal wayfinder.
And for those places that offer an app, visitors can access in-map real time updates and offers, and useful information within the realm of augmented reality, such as online reviews and menus.
For visitors to office buildings, the indoor mapping system can become something a lot more sophisticated. Also known as digital wayfinding, the system incorporates digital visitor passes. These are issued to users’ smartphones, which are then used as an access pass. As they enter the building, they are automatically signed in to comply with safety regulations. Access can be restricted to certain areas to maintain security and for health and safety compliance.
As the visitor arrives, an automated alert is issued to their host so that they can meet and greet, or prepare for their arrival at the agreed meeting point, as the visitor uses the provided indoor maps to find their way independently.
Indoor mapping technology is hugely beneficial in emergency situations too. Building managers can quickly broadcast smartphone notifications directing visitors away from hazardous situations or towards the nearest emergency exits, or alert people to lockdown measures being put in place.
Notifications can also be issued to make visitors of their positions within venues. This is particularly useful in expansive buildings, for example hospitals, universities and airports.
The benefits of indoor maps for organisations
Combined with smart analytics software, an indoor mapping system is able to gather rich data, from which organisations can draw exceptional value.
From information on visitor behaviour, to the ability to locate assets at the tap of a screen; the health and safety officer, the marketing team and the facilities manager are all presented with rich insights that can guide crucial decisions and help with the efficient planning of resources. Risk levels drop, and the bottom line all of a sudden looks a whole lot healthier.
It is also possible to give productivity and performance a boost using indoor navigation maps. Increasingly, workforces are adopting activity-based working. So employees on the search for the right workspace for the right task will appreciate real time information on the ideal place to be. No more time wasted seeking out the equipment or space they need. Plus, with indoor maps, you get to analyse how staff move around an office so you can take steps to make the best use of the space you have.
An indoor mapping system also provides energy efficiency and waste reduction benefits. An Internet of Things (IoT) enhanced indoor map will identify which floors, rooms and specific pieces of equipment are consuming the most resources. This information can then be used to spread the usage out over a larger area.
For the facilities manager, organising maintenance schedules also becomes a whole lot easier courtesy of indoor maps. Information about when servicing, inspections and testing are required can be attached to specific equipment, which is flagged on the maps with alerts coming up when interventions are due.
Finding your way with Smart Spaces and indoor maps
Smart Spaces is a cloud-based, app-driven platform powered by Internet of Things technology. When used in collaboration with a building management system, it transforms the premises into a smart building.
With its wayfinder API, Smart Spaces brings all the benefits of an indoor mapping system into the hands of building owners and operators, extending them to employees and visitors to enhance the indoor experience.
To discover how Smart Spaces could help you bring indoor maps into your organisation, and all the advantages that go with them, you are welcome to request your free demo, or get in touch for more information.