Indoor Wayfinding 101 - Why Campuses Everywhere are Offering Digital Guidance

July 14, 2022

Outdoor, GPS-based mapping services are firmly established as go-to tools thanks to easy access via smartphones. Driving through unfamiliar streets, finding a new restaurant, meeting up with friends – even the least tech-oriented among us have learned to do all this and more using a simple interface with a map and our location. At a time when outdoor wayfinding comes pre-installed in most new cars, it’s safe to say that we’re talking about something that is firmly in the cultural mainstream. 

But what about when things move indoors? GPS stops working when you have a roof over your head and most indoor spaces are small enough that, once you find the front door, you don’t need any more guidance. But not all indoor spaces are like that. For many, the need for digital directions continues after you enter. 

Over the last several years, infrastructures based on Bluetooth® Low Energy (Bluetooth® LE) have been used to provide indoor wayfinding services in large facilities like airports, hospitals, office complexes, and other similarly large spaces. Current trends show that university campuses are the latest to embrace this technology and the applications that it makes possible. 

A look at the ways in which indoor wayfinding improves campus life makes it clear that it’s a great fit:

  • A better student experience. University campuses are big and getting bigger. The size of the campuses and the complexity of the buildings on them can be a challenge, particularly for new students. Yearly turnover means an average of about 30% of all students are always new, every school year. That’s a lot of students who haven’t had time to settle in and learn where things are and the best way to get there. Just finding the right building can be just half of the challenge in a multi-story maze of classrooms, auditoriums and offices. Indoor wayfinding services help students reach a comfort level faster, knowing that their phone can always guide them to where they need to be. This means a reduction in late arrivals, an always-on guide service available when there’s no one to ask for help and an express lane to overall integration with campus life.   
  • A better visitor experience. Students aren’t the only ones faced with navigating large and unfamiliar spaces. University campuses get significant numbers of non-student visitors every day for a long list of reasons. Potential students looking for information, vendors there on business, guests of professors or other staff, media, even administrators unfamiliar with parts of their own campus — they can all benefit from an easily accessible indoor wayfinding service to get to their destinations faster. 
  • An enhanced “brand” image for the school. The current generation of students can’t remember a time when they didn’t have some kind of screen within easy reach. They have been using technology to learn, solve problems and entertain themselves for their entire lives. They expect to use an application in their phones for nearly everything and that includes wayfinding. Just like free Wi-Fi all over campus or phone charging stations all over, indoor wayfinding is part of the expected array of services that modern, tech-savvy institutions are supposed to have.
  • Savings on signage. This is something that is simply not on the radar of anyone who doesn’t have to install signs and has no idea how much they cost, but updating and maintaining signage on something so big as a university campus is a major expense. Obviously, no wayfinding application can replace all signs and there will always be a need for traditional signage but the savings from being able to substitute digital directions for even a fraction of existing signs can be significant. 

Getting started with your own indoor wayfinding service

The Bluetooth® LE-based network infrastructure that supports wayfinding solutions relies on the fact that all modern mobile phones have Bluetooth® and are designed to work with location services. That means every student with a phone has the hardware needed to access everything. All they have to do is download a dedicated indoor wayfinding app provided by the university. 

The app uses the phone's built-in Bluetooth® to triangulate to beacons set up throughout the campus. This provides the user with indoor navigation and wayfinding and, if desired, location-based content. This means, for example, that the information displayed for the user can change as they walk through a building, featuring information about an office’s hours, what they offer, etc.

The physical infrastructure needed to support an indoor wayfinding application is easy to install and scalable to the size needed to accommodate a typical campus. Once your application is ready with location information, the network is easy to deploy and is up and running within days. 

Looking for your degree in indoor wayfinding? 

Modern campuses go to great lengths to provide students with everything they need to feel comfortable on campus and create the foundation for academic success. The size and complexity of today’s typical campus can be overwhelming for new students, who will always comprise a significant portion of all students. 

Indoor wayfinding solutions like those that guide you through an unfamiliar airport, huge hospital complex or corporate office space can deliver the same support and convenience to students who have yet to memorize all the buildings, floors, rooms and spaces that are part of their day. 

A simple application of the kind that they’re already familiar with can be on stand-by, always ready to help. 

At Kontakt.io our mission is to deliver human-building interfaces that provide people with delightful, useful, and safe indoor experiences to help make buildings work for people.If you’re thinking about making your campus more accommodating and open to those who don’t yet know where everything is, contact us and let’s talk about how we can do it together.

Aneta Ciurkot

Director, Product Marketing

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