After the Design Team's Way-finding Seminar last month, and in preparation for the opening of the Learning Theater, I have been exploring a few of the options mapped out by the EdLab crew. One that really struck me was adding Russell Hall to a pre-existing way finding app like Google Maps.
In their infinite wisdom Google has provided an indoor mapping option
on their open platform where you can upload floor-plans of your building and provide navigation and way-finding with the same kind of properties that we have come to rely upon.
This seems like the most logical option for any establishment that would like to offer interior layout information to the public without expecting them to download a new proprietary app or speak to a human. The Google option includes multi-floor navigation and real-time 'blue dot' representation location.
Depending on the data available, the map will show notable places in the building you're currently viewing, including stores, restrooms, food, and more. Touch any indoor location to learn more.
The representation is pretty cool and intuitive, I went on a mini excursion through NYC to see what had already entered this kind of information. Here's a sample of the multi-floor navigation on the website.
However there are some major drawbacks and limitations for use. First of all Google only supports the floor-plan upload of public
buildings. This makes a lot of sense as residences, office buildings and the like protected for safety and privacy reasons. Public buildings such as The New York Public Library, museums and sports arenas already provide detailed information to the public about their spaces and do not require identification to attain access.
To that end we at TC, I believe, are not legally allowed to post our interiors on Google Maps
, which I'm sad about. There is a precedent of interior details of University buildings
on Google so perhaps with the right permissions we can use it. This technology has technically been available since around 2012
and hasn't made much of an impact as far as I can tell so maybe it's no great loss.
There are of course other options for establishments (mostly retail) to make their indoor maps available on mobile devices, there's a quick run-down of some commercial options on "Street Fight" Magazine
the best of which seems to be Wifarer
which uses wifi to locate the user. These all, as far as I can tell are older options and require an app to be deployed.