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Wayfinding doesn’t end when you ask your phone or in-car navigation to guide you to your destination. Once you arrive, there’s a whole other raft of questions that can come to mind, none of which a GPS can answer. Where’s the meeting room I’m meant to be in? Are my colleagues already there? Where can I find the nearest coffee machine?
These are simple questions we encounter every day, but because satellite positioning ends the moment you walk indoors, the idea of glancing at your phone to find the answers may seem like a pipedream. But it’s not a far-off reality: transforming existing structures into thinking buildings – urban environments that are made more efficient through location intelligence – is becoming increasingly attainable, and the benefits are in the magnitude of trillions of dollars.
In a world where rich three-dimensional mapping is the golden standard for outdoor spaces, building detailed navigation data for indoor environments is undoubtedly ideal. Yet creating floor plans and keeping them updated – even just in 2D – has proven to be a difficult and costly challenge for many companies.
The advent of the internet of things changes this. With more and more everyday items becoming network-enabled, tracking objects is becoming both cheaper and easier. This benefits the surrounding spaces, too, as Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-connected devices become parts of indoor positioning systems that can locate objects accurately within 5 to 10 centimeters.
This is made all the more powerful with indoor environment maps like HERE Venues. By using automated tools to pull together information from a variety of sources – from CAD files to images – we’re able to produce 3D representations of campuses, hospitals, stadiums, and more. Used in conjunction with an indoor positioning system, these customizable and secure maps can be utilised by businesses for wherever they need help, be it managing busy crowds to avoid bottlenecks or guiding guests to their parking spots.
The term “smart office” has been thrown around for many years, often referring to features such as flexible work environments and IoT appliances. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to improving workplace efficiency. IoT technologies are helping offices become location intelligent, allowing companies to use position tracking and analytics to understand how resources are being physically utilized and how they can be managed more effectively.
As an example, HERE Smart Office allows staff to use the space around them as productively as possible – for example, users can find available desks, locate colleagues, and book rooms based on their proximity to attendees all through an on-site kiosk or mobile app. Companies can then use insights on how the workplace is being used to assist with decision-making.
It isn’t just spaces and people that can be better managed with location intelligence, though, and by knowing how workplaces are used, there are potential benefits that go beyond the building. For instance, by tracking movement throughout an office, companies can more cleverly control their energy usage, resulting in savings estimated in the trillions of dollars, as well as a reduced carbon footprint.
With network connectivity working its way into more of the objects we interact with daily, and our capabilities for managing those objects and the spaces around them continually improving, indoor environments have a future that’s intelligent, efficient, and near on the horizon.