The benefits of digital wayfinding are undeniable. From improving patient experiences in hospitals to supporting the omnichannel retail experience in shopping malls, indoor wayfinding brings a competitive advantage across multiple industries. However, while the benefits are clear, the process of planning a project and selecting the appropriate wayfinding technologies can be a daunting task.
Leaning on our years of implementation experience, we’ve gathered together a short list of common questions we think you’ll find invaluable as you embark on your indoor wayfinding project:
1. What are your project goals?
The most important question to ask yourself is: what does our wayfinding initiative aim to accomplish?
Understanding what you aim to accomplish by implementing an indoor mapping or navigation system is the first step toward success. This will help you articulate your objectives to potential vendors, and in turn ensure they understand your goals, helping them ascertain if their solution is a good fit for your needs. The combination of a clear goal for your wayfinding initiative and an experienced wayfinding partner will assist you in calculating the Return on Investment (ROI) you can expect – based on projects of a similar nature.
2. Which devices will you deploy on?
Deciding which devices you will add indoor maps to is an important factor in your project planning. As a best practise, consider which devices your visitors are most likely going to use when visiting your venue. Nowadays, mobile devices are ubiquitous, however if a significant portion of your visitors do not have your app, deploying across kiosks may be preferable. Be sure to talk to your partner about the devices their platforms or SDKs support.
3. Do you plan to incorporate location awareness?
Incorporating location awareness into your wayfinding project will contribute to creating a blue dot or turn-by-turn indoor navigation experience. The term blue dot refers to providing a user with their location in real-time as they navigate a venue – represented as a blue dot on their map.
In order to support a blue dot experience, a building must have the appropriate hardware infrastructure. Because traditional GPS technology doesn’t work inside buildings, indoor location-aware technologies are used to create the same effect using Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons, and other RF standards.
Creating a comprehensive indoor wayfinding experience is a complex project, requiring a symphony of hardware and software. Often the best approach is phased approach; use an indoor mapping SDK to add maps to your existing applications, and later use the same SDK to add location awareness.
4. What level of granularity would you like on your maps?
The map digitization process is an integral part to the overall project. Before it begins, it is essential for mapping engineers to understand how much detail the end product will include and if that information is available within the structural source file. Depending on the project goal and application use cases some maps might only display essential information such as destinations, paths and amenities, while others may include more contextual details, such as parking lots, mobile equipment, and furniture.
5. Do you have an in-house development team?
Indoor Mapping platforms are designed to be extensible. At Jibestream, we like to think of our platform as the engine you use to power your venue experience. At its core, Jibestream is a powerful mapping engine that delivers indoor mapping. However, that’s just the beginning. Your development team can use the platform SDK to integrate with third party parking applications, incorporate beacon technology for blue dot navigation, connect lease management software to automatically update store locations, or even integrate with cinemas.
6. Do you plan to integrate existing applications?
To create a holistic customer experience and gather insights into how people interact with your venue, you will need to leverage existing applications and data streams. Consider how important integration is as part of your project and talk to your wayfinding partner about APIs that accommodate integrations with third party and line of business applications.
7. Do you require restricted profiles or map views for staff or guests?
Over time, your mapping and wayfinding projects need to be able to scale as your needs evolve. If your long term vision includes providing different pathways or building visibility to different types of users such as guests and employees, you need to ensure that your indoor maps can be easily scaled to accommodate these needs.
Most applications will have you make copies of every map for every use case, all of which will need to be manually updated every time there’s a change. Make sure your indoor mapping solution allows for Map Profiles to enable you to manage permissions and map view restrictions for different users from a single set of maps
8. Do you have CAD drawings or floorplans of your facility or do you need them created for you?
Having a structural file that contains as many of your buildings elements as possible - think rooms, path types, furniture, site details - is crucial to your indoor wayfinding project. In short, you need to have maps before you can start the journey of embedding them into your app. Your structural file will dictate the level of detail and granularity that can be achieved in your final digitized map. The more detail that the file contains, the more information and context you can add to address your various project goals. This file becomes the starting point to creating a strong map foundation that you can build on to in the future.
These structural files can come in various vector or raster based formats such as AutoCAD, SVG, GeoJSON, PDF, PNG, or JPEG. All file formats can be used to create a custom digitized map that not only addresses your project goals with clarity, but is also geospatially accurate for added data implementation features like creating the blue dot experience within the Jibestream Content Management System (CMS).
If you don’t have any maps of your indoor space or source files, a good starting point is to contact the architects of your building, or look into the public archives or fire safety plans.
9. Are data-ownership and privacy considerations important or required for your organization?
Data ownership and privacy considerations can stall a project at critical stages if they’re not accounted for from the outset. It’s important to have these conversations with your technology providers early on to understand if they’ll be storing any of your data and where. To mitigate data privacy issues, it’s helpful to work with providers who do not store, lease, or house any of your data.
Jibestream has been in the digital wayfinding industry since its nascent stages. As a result, we've gained experience across a number of industries. Based on this experience, we add value to every new engagement. If you’re just starting out, feel free to look over some of our resources, or give us a call to discuss your indoor mapping project.
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Updated November 1, 2018: This post was originally published on February 5, 2016 and has been updated to include additional considerations for your wayfinding project and answer more questions that we are frequently asked by our clients throughout their project journey.