The world is heading into a new age of map creation: interactive indoor maps. Their creation is not as adventurous as the creation of Africa’s first map probably was. Yet the creation of an interactive map for a mall, railway station or airport may appear still like an epic quest.
Breaking down an indoor map solution into different parts might make the quest more digestible. Here are key areas which should be considered before getting started with your implementation.
Start out by questioning the why. Then by what it is you want to achieve by offering an indoor mapping solution in the short to long term. Are you offering your users a navigational help or is it a means to an end? More on this when we look at the features. Answering these questions should already make the direction of your solution obvious.
As with every technology based project the acceptance of your users is at its core. In the majority of your use cases they will be your most important stakeholder. Therefor ask yourself is your motive based on an external need or is it more an internal want.
If your motivation is indoor analytics how can you mask this goal towards the user? The user acceptance is one of the most critical areas which will determine the success of your project.
While looking at the solutions available on the market one could get the impression that one is like a kid in a candy store. From Indoor Navigation to Indoor Location Analytics and Augmented Reality anything is possible. Based on your motive and key personas it should be obvious which flavor your solution should take.
If you are still uncertain about your motives or the features then your budget is a good tool to help your decision making.
A state of the art indoor mapping system with some bells and whistles will cost you something the area of 10’000 CHF or more in licensing costs per year. It is worth pointing out that the licensing models differ from solution provider to solution provider. From fees based on area to the amount of points of interest, you can find everything on the market.
Please note that the stated figure is just a rough number. It doesn’t include the implementation and it might be a small number compared to required infrastructure or maintenance costs. It is only intended to give you an impression and does not represent a particular product.
Infrastructure and Operations
Opting for a solution that depends on determining the position of your users will raise further questions.
What kind of positioning hardware will you use? Is GPS or Wifi positioning enough? Is your infrastructure ready for the inclusion of beacons?
You should consider that as a rule of thumb you need four beacons for a square room. In a room with a complex layout this number can vary. Further you should consider that each of these beacons needs to be powered. This can be achieved by line current or battery power. Regardless of your choice this will have an impact on your facility management.
An insight from a real-life implementation. One facility provider opted for a battery based beacons solution. This lead to a situation where they had to create new jobs just for the replacement of the batteries. A further issue with beacons has proven to be that they, for whatever reason, appear to be popular souvenirs.
Additionally you should be aware that the success of beacon relies on the user having Bluetooth activated on their device. Ask yourself how often do you have Bluetooth activated and how fast do deactivate it when you don’t need it. Now take a minute a consider how critical this little gesture is to your solutions success.
Finally different factors will also have an impact on finding the right solution for you. These include:
- The developer’s product road map
- The supported technology touch points (iOS, Android & HTML5)
- The operational ease of updating your map material
The total cost for a state of the art indoor mapping solution and operation is a good barrier against a potential impulse buy. Especially since there are many unknowns you must address at an early stage. Yet the key for picking your solution should be down to your motive and the user acceptance. The importance of the latter can’t be stressed enough.
From an ROI perspective you will probably have two options:
- Aiming for user acceptance by providing a solution with a high-level of sophistication
- Providing a basic scope and evolve based on learnings from the bottom up
By opting for the sophisticated option you will have to make serious considerations about the buy-in of all stakeholders. Develop a long-term vision and hope you will be right. If this sounds over the top, why not go with the low cost “build it on your own” solution first.
Thereby gaining insights by using a simple framework and tracking its usage with an analytics tool. This way you can prevent choosing a behemoth before knowing if its a real benefit for your users.
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