“Inside, Outside, and Between Buildings”
You might have noticed that we use the phrase “Inside, outside, and between buildings” in our marketing materials and on this website. We’re sometimes asked exactly what that means. This blog post breaks it down. We’ll cover what that phrase means as far as our technical abilities (what we can versus what we can’t do) and how we do it.
To start, let’s talk about Cartogram’s capabilities when it comes to indoor and outdoor navigation.
You already know your smartphone can help you navigate around the world. You can use our personal favorite Google Maps (the foundation for Cartogram’s software), as well as a number of other services like Bing and Waze. To do this, your phone needs two things: first, your phone needs to access the international GPS satellite network in order to accurately position itself on the globe. Second, your phone needs internet access to connect to the services and maps.
GPS location works when you are outside, but it doesn’t work inside. The location your phone provides you using the satellite network isn’t granular enough to tell which room you might be in inside of a building. It won’t be able to tell which floor of a building you are on, or which way you are heading. That’s why Cartogram doesn’t use GPS to navigate inside of buildings.
Inside of buildings, Cartogram typically uses Bluetooth beacons to triangulate your location. These are placed at intervals throughout a building so that your phone can see more than one at a time. Bluetooth beacons can use triangulation to tell exactly where you are in a building, including which floor you’re on and which way you’re heading
Cartogram includes true Outdoor-to-Indoor Navigation, which is unique in the wayfinding field. We’re very proud of this feature of our software, which lets users start absolutely anywhere in the world, be it one mile away or 500 miles, and end up right where they need to be.
Here’s how we do that:
Cartogram is built on top of Google Maps. That means right out of the box our system is just as accurate outdoors as Google Maps. If your facilities are in a big city, you probably already have excellent Google Maps coverage.
Your patients can use Cartogram to navigate from any location to their destination, and Google Maps will supply the outdoor turn-by-turn directions. The directions will be delivered within the Cartogram app.
For example, if you want to include a link with Cartogram directions in an appointment reminder email, your visitor can start anywhere and get to their appointment’s building location. Once there, Cartogram points them to the right parking lot and then to the right building entrance, automatically switching to indoor navigation when it’s appropriate to get them to the right room in the building.
Some geographical areas have less-than-stellar coverage in Google Maps. If you’re nodding your head right now, we can help with that by including your outdoor areas in your facility maps. That way, even if your campus is one big blob on Google Maps, your visitors will be able to see building edges and outdoor features within the Cartogram app.
Even if you do have great Google Map coverage in your area, Google might know where the edges of your campus are, but not which buildings are which, or where a parking garage ends and a building begins. It might not know about walking paths, tunnels, or skybridges. Perhaps you want visitors to park in a specific lot, and you know it’s confusing to get from the lot to the correct building. In all of those cases, we can help!
There may be specific ways you need your visitors to navigate around campus, or to take non-intuitive routes to avoid confusion or hazards. Cartogram can easily program those routes into your facility’s maps. For instance, sometimes it is important to have visitors enter on one block and take a skybridge to access a certain department on another. We make sure that visitors are pointed to the correct entrance – no one wants to wander around outside looking for an entrance to a building with no ground floor public entrances!
Similarly, we can solve wayfinding problems resulting from having campus building spread through town. Sometimes you’ll need people to go from building A to building B three blocks away, across a park, or through an underground tunnel. There might a tram or it might require driving. Cartogram can show exact directions along either a predetermined path or switch between in-building navigation to outdoor navigation and back again, showing visitors any pertinent information along their route with push notifications.
How long does it take to set up Cartogram at my facility?
Onboarding Cartogram software at your facility requires three steps: onboarding the maps, integrating with your existing software, and testing and deployment. From the time that we receive payment, it can take as little as three weeks to have our software up and running at your site. Here are the steps in a bit more detail:
- Indoor Map Onboarding – Send your floor plans to us in any format, from JPGs to CAD files. We onboard the maps, create your content, and provide tools to manage your maps and make instant updates. If you don’t want to manage maps and/or tools, we can do this part for you.
- Software Integration – We create an API key associated with your venues to integrate to your app on iOS, Android, and web using the Cartogram SDK. Or, we can do this part for you. Don’t have an app? No problem! Cartogram has white-label apps (meaning they’re ready to be customized with your content and branding) ready to deploy for customers who don’t have their own apps or don’t want to integrate with existing apps.
- Infrastructure – We determine if your facility needs hardware and take care of the installation. Already have beacons? Great! We can work with your existing hardware. We’ll need to determine if there are enough beacons to cover all the routes on your maps. Cartogram’s on-site deployment includes extensive testing to make sure you have a perfectly working system, ready for roll-out.
Hopefully this blog post has clarified what we mean by “Inside, outside, and between buildings,” not to mention why we’re so proud of this functionality in our software!
If you have additional questions or would like to discuss your particular use case, let’s chat! The easiest way to connect with us is to request either a quick call, or to schedule a full demo (typically an hour) which includes enough time to go over your use case and specific requirements.