Consider these 11 aspects of any Wayfinding vendor before making a decision
Every day, we have companies visit our website and reach out to us about how we can solve their problems. Over time, we’ve realized some common areas which are overlooked by prospects when they’re evaluating potential solutions. Since most customers have never onboarded a platform like Cartogram®, they don’t necessarily know what’s available to them, or what the pitfalls might be of choosing the wrong provider.
At the same time, it’s very easy to focus on solving today’s problem without considering a solution’s ability to grow over time. Cartogram® is a platform and an end-to-end indoor location services provider. We’re not merely a technology enablement company. This article is intended to outline a few key areas which we believe will be helpful as stakeholders scope out what’s really important to make a project a success.
1. The “One Line Test”
Don’t forget that we often must traverse the outdoors before we navigate indoors. Consider walking between buildings on a hospital campus or going from a parking lot which is down the block from a mall or sports venue. Here’s a guideline for you.
This is really simple:
A complete indoor location services solution draws one line, on one screen, that shows a route both inside and outside of buildings (including streets/sidewalks/etc). Anything less is half-baked. As a test for a solution, you should be able to get directions from the 3rd floor of one particular building (indoors), through the streets (outdoors), and then to the 2nd floor of a different building (indoors).
Remember the “one line rule”.
2. Make sure you focus on the problem, and the end-to-end cost of fixing the problem, rather than the technology.
Your best possible solution may be with a vendor other than Cartogram®. As long as you focus on solving the problem, Cartogram® will help you find the best solution, even if that’s not with us. For instance, our friends over at Navisens might be a good fit if you need an inertial positioning solution for augmented reality.
The last thing we want is to take on a new customer who isn’t going to rave about the high-quality of our product, so leverage our knowledge to find the right fit for your business.
3. Accurate, real-time turn-by-turn navigation inside of a building is going to require an app for the foreseeable future. Despite this requirement, there are lots of other ways to find your way indoors, like printing directions from a kiosk, or texting for automated SMS directions.
Mobile browsers lack consistent and widespread support for scanning wireless networks. We will get there eventually, but as is typical of Apple, don’t expect Safari to lead the pack in terms of developer empowerment. Android currently leads innovation in this department with Android Instant Apps, but the apk size limitation they’re enforcing (for good reason) could potentially thwart a robust solution from surfacing. Cartogram® provides software solutions for Android, iOS, website integration, touchscreen kiosk, and finally, our new SMS search engine which enables anyone to send a text message and receive information about their destination with no app required.
4. Native mobile SDKs are just one of several software services available to enable people in your venue to find their way indoors.
You’re going to have some people who love your app. Others will download an app for a quick fix and then delete. Statistics tell us that over half of your visitors will not use your app. So how do you make sure those people are getting value from your shiny new indoor mapping platform?
Cartogram® provides website integration, on-site kiosks, and our latest service, SMS search, in parallel to our support for native Android and iOS apps. Don’t underestimate the value of being able to quickly update your visitor-facing indoor maps and allow your guests and staff to print them out. Similarly, having an on-site kiosk so visitors can print directions to their destination will win their hearts and make the IT and marketing departments big heroes within your organization.
5. There’s an important difference between “indoor location services” and “indoor maps”.
Indoor maps are cool, but generally not very useful without several layers of data on top of them. A full-spec indoor location services platform will provide several distribution channels to enable your visitors and employees to consume and leverage your building maps and features while also enabling you to manage the content that lives on top of those maps.
6. Your currently deployed wireless infrastructure probably isn’t sufficient to provide quality indoor location services at your venue.
Unless you already have a dense deployment of BLE beacons, whatever technology is backing your current network isn’t going to cut it if you want real-time turn-by-turn indoor navigation inside of your venues on a smartphone.
Here’s the reason: 99% modern smartphones support only two types of wireless technologies which are proven to work well indoors – Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. There are lots of other wireless technologies out there, but I’m talking specifically about what works on the device you carry around with you throughout the day.
Since these are narrowband technologies, multipath fading is going to occur. This why you need a dense network. To top it off, Apple has gone out of their way to make Wi-Fi indoor positioning painful for developers to the point that a passive Wi-Fi solution isn’t reliably capable of tracking an iOS device from one side of the building to the other because of Apple’s MAC address swapping.
7. UWB is the king of indoor positioning, but your smartphone doesn’t support it (yet).
Ultra-wideband was originally created to transfer large amounts of data of short distances wirelessly. As it turns out, that was a problem that no one really cared about solving. At least, not at the time (VR/AR may adopt it at some point).
But engineers and researchers were keen to jump on the technology for indoor positioning due to its centimeter accuracy which is possible because of UWB’s natural resistance to multipath fading. Unfortunately, until Samsung and Apple deploy UWB chips in modern smartphones, UWB will be limited to tracking in assets and robotics. We look forward to supporting it in the future.
8. Your visitors don’t want directions to room numbers or stores at the mall.
What they REALLY want is to get to the nearest blue sweater that’s less than $100, or to navigate to the Math 101 class taught at 2 pm by a specific professor, or to get to their meeting with a new client in an unfamiliar building.
Your floor plans don’t contain this data and that’s where Cartogram® comes in to save the day. Combining meaningful real-time data about the people, places, products, events, and “things” inside of your buildings is what makes our platform so powerful.
9. For the same reason that you can’t remember what the 2nd item in this list of 11 elements is, your visitors can’t remember the directions that the receptionist gave them.
Our short term memories simply aren’t good at this task of remembering large lists of text. A simpler and more effective indoor location services solution would be an on-site kiosk that prints directions, or an SMS search deployment where your visitors can text and get automated SMS responses to questions like “Where is the neurology department?” or “How do I get to room 114B?”
10. At some point, if not on Day 1 of your deployment, you’re going to want to manage your venue’s content from your smartphone.
By “content”, we mean the pathways, text, imagery, and about 20 layers of data that work together inside of Cartogram® on your maps. You do everything else on your phone. Shouldn’t you be able to drag and drop content, manage floor plans, update beacons, and update your products on your maps right from your phone?
11. Our recommended BLE beacons have a battery life of 5 years.
In the “old days”, as in, about 2 years ago, the best we had was a battery life of 2 years, which was pretty good. With recent advancements in software and hardware, a 5-year battery life is now possible.
Keep these 11 ideas in mind when choosing your indoor location services provider for your venues and you’ll be well-prepared for a successful project. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up here to learn more about our indoor location service platform.