Interest in indoor maps and indoor wayfinding tools is growing as more building managers discuss the benefits they offer. From helping visitors find their way around an unfamiliar space, to making it easier for employees to find an available meeting room near them (wherever they might be), to creating custom maps for security and facility management purposes, organizations across a variety of industries are investing in this technology.
The good news is that making an indoor wayfinding map for your location doesn’t have to be difficult. With a little bit of advance planning, the right support, and an expert provider, you can be up and running in no time flat. Discover 7 key steps you need to take when starting an indoor mapping project.
1 - Define your map goals
Maps are designed to fulfill a purpose or to solve a problem. Before you get started, it is important to take the time to define your goals. Many users find it easiest to start from the use case. You can approach this from two ways, either thinking about the people who will use the map, or thinking about a specific problem you are trying to solve.
Having this information to hand can speed up your initial conversations with potential vendors, and ensure you get a solution which is fit for purpose. For example, if your map will be used by both building occupants and external visitors, you may want to have the ability to customize their view. Emergency exits, security concerns, and safety guidelines should also be factored into your planning.
Your indoor map can be used for more than wayfinding. Maps can be integrated with data visualization software to facilitate analysis and business decision-making. They can also be connected into office software like Teams, Outlook, and Google Agenda, helping employees find each other. Before you start, think through all the possible ways an indoor map can add value to your organization.
2 - Identify an indoor mapping expert
The quickest, and often least expensive, way to get a functional indoor wayfinding map is to identify an indoor mapping expert who can meet your needs. While most of us are familiar with outdoor map makers like Waze and Google Maps, for indoor wayfinding you will want to find a specialist. A simple web search can help you identify potential partners, but how do you know which one is best?
The first place to start is to review the company information. Considerations include their years of experience and number of clients.
You might also want to check which industries they support. If you intend to use your map for more than basic wayfinding, you should investigate whether they offer any extensions to functionality or integration with third-party software.
Last, but certainly not least, make sure they can provide high quality customer support both during the map creation process and once your map is live.
3 - Source your foundation maps
People are often surprised to discover they can use existing architectural or engineering plans to speed up the map creation process. If you have any CAD drawings available or even a floor plan layout, these can form the foundation of your new indoor wayfinding map. If you have multiple floors in your building, don’t forget to gather the drawings for each floor.
4 - Consider where your map will be displayed
Before selecting your provider, you will also want to consider where your indoor map will be displayed, such as on a website, in a company app, or at an onsite kiosk. You may not plan to deploy all of these options at the start, but if they are part of your roadmap, you will want to keep them in mind.
The main item to consider when it comes to displaying your map is having the available components. Your map provider will need to support the right technology for each of your display choices, ideally by offering native integration into your platform through SDK codes for iOS, Android, JS, React Native, Flutter, and Cordova. If you are using a kiosk, make sure the provider has a kiosk app or has a component compatible with your Kiosk.
If you do not have plans to develop your own interface, make sure your provider has a standard web or mobile app to offer. That way, you will be able to display or share your map.
5 - Gather your necessary resources and support
You are now ready to enter the next stage of the map creation process. At this point, you will want to identify an individual or team who will become your internal expert on creating and using the new indoor maps. This person or team will be the key point of contact with your mapping software provider, streamlining any questions and answers, and eliminating confusion.
Your internal expert will be responsible for mastering the map design interface and using it to build the map for your organization. As your project progresses, they can also play a key role in training other experts or acting as an internal reference point for any user questions which arise. Should they or users encounter any difficulties, your expert could refer back to your mapping partner to resolve any queries.
The indoor map creation process is designed to be managed autonomously. This is because you should be able to update or amend your map as often as needed. By having an internal expert, you can avoid future costs for deploying updates or being stuck waiting for your mapping partner to have resources available to make the changes.
6 - Identify Key POIs and collect Place details
Now that you have defined the goal for your map, selected a mapping expert, gathered your foundation materials, and pulled in resources and support, you are ready to move onto the next step: identifying your points of interest and place details.
Your indoor map can have as few or as many points of interest and place details as you need, and this will vary depending on the use case. Most people start with the basics, like entrance points, elevators and stairwells, and reception desks. The next layer could add meeting and break rooms, restaurants or canteens, or even stationery closets.
Place details can include a wealth of information. You can list onsite equipment and appliances, outline where various teams or departments sit, or even add furniture or space constraints. If your map will be used for visitors, such as in a shopping mall or hospital or other public space, you can also include details like opening hours, website addresses, phone numbers, and even photos.
If your goal is to provide wayfinding, you will also want to consider which pathways you will want to draw. You can use the wayfinding functionality, or direction mode as it might be called, to indicate the easiest paths between points of interest, or to detail specific ways to get from point A to point B in alignment with your security or health and safety guidelines.
The trick is not to go overboard with details. Keep your use case in mind and don’t waste time adding in extraneous information which won’t ultimately add value. After all, you can always update your map with more details later should your needs evolve.
7 - Apply your branding to your indoor map
The last step in the process is to make sure your new indoor wayfinding map aligns with your business identity. Regardless of whether you will deploy your map only to internal employees, or make it widely available to anyone through onsite kiosks or embedding it into your website, you want the map to be immediately recognized as an official tool.
Branding should mean more than putting your logo on the map. You can customize the colors and enter place names people will recognize. This will make sure your map is consistent with your website, intranet, company app, or brochure.
As you think about the design of your map, you will also want to take legibility and accessibility into account. Make sure you have not included so much detail that the map becomes overwhelming. Color selection is also important, particularly when making it easy for the user to focus on critical information. Using too much color, or using colors without enough contrast, can make your map difficult to use.
Deploying your new indoor wayfinding map
Now that you have created an indoor wayfinding map for your location, you are ready to deploy it. With the touch of a button, you can publish your map to your website or mobile app, or make the content available for kiosks. Updates can happen in real-time, thanks to indoor maps being a SaaS solution. Simply log into the map providers platforms and make whatever changes are needed. When you hit publish again, the maps will update automatically with the latest information.