The Basis of Indoor Mapping

October 13, 2017

Did you know that for both iOS and Android devices the Google Maps app ranks fourth for overall app usage? Falling directly behind the likes of Facebook, YouTube & Google search, it’s clear that device aided navigation has become a common part of our daily lives. Keeping this in mind, it’s hard to believe that the same experience is still widely unavailable indoors. Let’s get into why this is, and how we’re working to unlock these capabilities, which are so commonly used in today’s digital world.

Outdoor mapping became quickly attainable due to the visibility with existing satellite infrastructure. Mapping the indoors continues to challenge the industry because there isn’t one way to create a mass dataset of these spaces. Since the indoors is private (yes, even those indoor spaces that we view as public) and changing every few hours, the only way to create this dataset is to work collaboratively with the millions of property owners around the world. They need to be equipped with efficient tools that enable them to manage their own data.

Common process for creating and maintaining indoor maps

Many of our customers know the below process all too well. Before having a way to create and maintain their property maps in real-time, the typical steps taken to update those maps were as follows;

The cycle of how indoor property data and maps are updated.

In totality, this process is likely to take upwards of 3 months and can be very costly based on the resources required. Because of this, it’s common for property owners to only make a handful of updates each year. This handful of updates can’t keep up with the dynamic environments they’re serving, and in many cases is causing inaccurate wayfinding for visitors. In today’s digital world, inaccuracy does not meet consumer expectations.

Property operators are the only ones in the day-to-day who know where everything is. It’s critical that they become a part of the equation.

Breakdown of inefficiencies and gaps in the process

Indoor mapping is generally misunderstood today because everyone just thought digital was better, but didn’t realize what digital entailed. An accurate map needs to be the basis on which all digital experiences within a physical space are built. Not only is the process above time consuming, it also requires specific professionals to accomplish the user output.

CAD (computer aided design) as a tool has been the basis on which map experiences are created. Unfortunately, CAD is not a user friendly tool, meaning that someone who is proficient with CAD needs to be a part of the ongoing process. Along with CAD professionals, property owners need to have designers who understand how to turn that CAD into a consumer-friendly map across multiple platforms. CAD files include the critical elements of a space (e.g. wall dimensions, electrical, exits, etc.), but don’t incorporate many of the elements that property visitors would be looking for (e.g. amenities, Santa setup for holidays, washroom closed for cleaning, pop-up stores, etc.). Designers need to turn the CAD into a format that’s consumable and that includes information which is relevant to each platform. While the output may look nice from a design perspective, there’s usually a disconnect in the map experience and in many cases, the map itself looks completely different.

How to fix this process and enable better digital experiences

It’s inevitable that 5 years from now, you should be able to walk into any building (e.g. mall, airport, hospital) and navigate as you would outside. To do this, property owners need a process to capture both large scale, complicated changes and also small but high impact changes happening on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis. Ideally, one tool can service both and anyone with minimal training can administer these changes.

Once we can successfully unlock these tools to all property owners and operators, we will be on a much better path to having accurate indoor mapping just like we do for the outdoors. The property operators are the only one’s day-to -day who know where everything is. It’s critical that they become a part of the equation.

The end result

Once property owners and operators start leveraging tools to keep maps updated, the opportunity for other digital experiences are endless. Suddenly, indoor positioning technology can be leveraged to the best of its ability, AR experiences will be unlocked, and for brick and mortar retail, the ability to offer experiential value is within reach.

As an indoor mapping company, this is at the core of what we do. Mappedin’s goal is to build the word processor for indoor mapping, removing complicated processes and giving property owners and operators what they need to create amazing digital experiences.

If you want to learn more about how we’re streamlining what was once a very complicated and costly process, reach out to us here.