COVID-19: How to help students and staff make a smooth return to university thanks to interactive maps?

For several months already, our homes have become our learning, working and living hubs to comply with the physical distancing regulations imposed by the various governments. The working transition for higher education institutions has not been easy with students and teachers having to adapt to e-learning.

From the uncertainty of student registrations and public funds, to online classes and a campus life that complies with social distancing regulations, the university experience is likely to be held in a very different environment for this year's cohort of students. Several scenarios are currently being evaluated by various universities around the world. A debate between returning to face to face education or continuing online learning is discussed. Other topics such as student schedules or small class sizes are also addressed.

This has raised many questions among officials in universities and colleges:

Here are some of our best practices that you can implement inside your University campus using Mapwize’s indoor mapping solution to help navigate in this post-COVID-19 era. Download the 6-step guidebook outlining how university mapping can reassure your students and maintain physical distancing in the midst of a pandemic.

1- Attract with a university digital tour

Higher education marketers know the power of the university campus tour. The start of the new academic year is fast approaching, and real time campus visits have become almost impossible to carry out due to the current situation the World is facing.

Moreover, it is not always possible to be available for a whole day to travel to the campus and take a tour. Virtual tours are therefore the ideal alternative. Using interactive maps, students and their families can take virtual tours by looking at photos or videos related to points of interest or any area on the university map. This shows them the entire campus, including residence halls and classrooms, as well as the most popular spots to hang out.

While the experience is different from the physical world, it helps people project themselves and enables them to choose the university or college that best suits their needs.

2- Know your university welcome capacity

The importance of universities as social institutions is undeniable, but the current predictions maintain that it’s unlikely that faculty, staff, and students will return to campus all at once. Moreover, the WHO regulation requires all university campuses to maintain a minimum distance of 1 meter between each individual. To meet today's needs, schools are being obligated to rethink the way they manage their space.
While the use of physical space was once defined for specific purposes, it is now possible to maximize the use of those spaces in brand new ways. This existing under-utilized space could be rearranged to create additional learning and safe working environments.

By setting up an interactive map for your college or university, it will be easy for you to define:

Once the following needs have been verified, you will be ready to review your university campus layout and re-open safely!

3- Give prior access to the university plan

It is important to make the university map available prior to the arrival of each individual so as to reassure them and avoid any unnecessary contact. The specific plan will show students and staff the different departments, study spaces, lecture halls, meeting rooms and points of interest so they know exactly where they need to go.

Sharing the URL of your building’s digital map or displaying QR codes throughout your campus enables students, faculty and visitors to easily figure out the exact route they need to take. This link can be communicated prior to their arrival by email or SMS and enables them to:

All of this empowers teachers and students and gives them confidence for a great back-to-school experience.

4- Create flexible maps for pandemic management and answer long-term needs

In a post-lockdown context, interactive indoor maps offer many possibilities for universities. With Mapwize STUDIO, our map editor, personal protective masks, available meeting rooms and seating plans - which comply with physical distancing - can be easily created and visualized. Maps can be designed with new entrances, paths and directions to avoid traffic congestion and temporarily close certain rooms in real time.

In addition to this medium-term use of maps, campuses are always reorganizing their spaces. That’s why it is important that they have the flexibility to modulate their spaces with a mapping tool that allows for real-time modifications.

5- Offer a contactless interactive map to your students

Students and visitors can find their own way throughout your premises via a web map or a dedicated app.

Our mobile application can easily be downloaded on the AppStore or on the Play Store and helps reduce unnecessary human contact. Users will be safely led to their destination thanks to personalized itineraries. Moreover, the wayfinding platform can simply be integrated into existing websites or onto the university’s intranet to allow students to view maps and check meeting room occupancy or directions before leaving home. The Kiosk solution can be embedded onto your tablets or interactive kiosks. Usually located at the university’s information desk or at different strategic points of the building, they help avoid unnecessary interaction. Once the desired destination entered, users can scan a QR code that will allow them to follow the instructions on their phone or tablet.

6- Integrate your university map with any system or application

For a more complete university experience, you can integrate your indoor mapping solution with different systems and university campus applications:

With these 6 recommendations, you are providing support to your students, lecturers and visitors for a worry-free and confident return to campus.

To learn more about the solution you can book an appointment with one of our representatives here.