Creating a whole new (indoor) world of mapping

Vincent Habchi
Editor-in-chief, Géomatique Expert

As demand for indoor location technology is growing, HERE has grown with it, creating platforms and forming partnerships to help usher in the new era.

These days, the data fed into the HERE database is mostly collected using on board car sensors as well as our fleet of LiDAR-equipped vehicles for topographic and 3D surveys.

This database stores around one million kilometers of road geometries along with their associated attributes. As you can imagine, keeping this huge amount of data up to date can be a challenge, but time and care has allowed HERE to fully master and routinely carry out all the processes involved.

So now, with that all sorted, HERE has shifted its emphasis to improving the accuracy and level of detail in the database, in order to create the digital mock-ups of cities that autonomous vehicles of the future will rely on to localize their sensor data flow.

As well as that, HERE also increased our focus on indoor location, a market currently worth around $7 billion and—if it keeps with its current 40 per cent annual growth—projected to hit $40 billion by 2022.

The need for indoor location is driven by a few key factors:

  • Today’s large buildings (malls, hospitals, companies’ headquarters) are more and more complex in order to best optimize available space. Finding one’s way around a veritable maze can be difficult for visitors and GPS-based navigation systems are of no help if the GPS signal is weak or nonexistent.
  • In emergencies, knowing precisely where hardware and personnel are located can drastically improve response time.
  • Customer experience is more important than ever before. Take a shopper at a mall, for example. Equipped with the power of indoor location, their smartphone can automatically connect with the surrounding wireless networks and exchange data not just about the mall layout, but also about their identity and habits, like what stores they visit the most, what kind of items they usually buy, and so on. Intelligent applets can then display targeted advertisements and stores’ location information on said smartphone.
  • Driving “last-kilometer logistics” by helping couriers to make their way through large, intricate areas like city blocks or warehouses.
  • Field service management.
  • 3D interactive mapping with fine-grained separation between public and private areas (e.g. in hospitals where surgery wards are not open to general public, airports, etc.).

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Over the years, HERE has proven itself a leader in the creation of 3D indoor maps, which are often made up of documents like PDF or DWG drawings stitched together. Those files are collected from various providers, then processed both into a topological graph for routing applications and into shapes and features used to draw maps.

One of the key challenges is seamlessly moving from outdoor to indoor navigation. Think about buying a toy for a Christmas gift. Imagine you’re late and the store that has the last toy is located miles away in a mall you’ve never been to. No problem. Your onboard navigation system guides you there, connects as you go with the mall’s server via GSM to pre-book a parking spot. Once parked, you pick up your phone and the guiding app shows your directly to the store. Easy.

But to be able to work that way, behind the scenes the computers have to know all about roads, parking lot layouts, real-time parking spaces availability, and entrances’ locations. That’s a lot of different information from different computers to exchange, and interoperability is going to be a mainstay of tomorrow’s smart navigation systems.

The latest enhancements of HERE’s outdoor and indoor data are notably integrated by partners like GEOCONCEPT, The Geoptimization Company, fueling the best that GIS has to offer.

Topics: Editor's picks, HD Live Map, Indoor maps, HERE Venues

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