Indoor Mapping and Field Service: A Natural Fit
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- May 21, 2012
The following post first appeared in Field Technologies Online, and is re-published with permission. Also, be sure to check out SmartVan writer Darren Weiss’ quote near the end!
GPS, geo-positioning, and mapping applications have become increasingly common in recent years for field service workers. Now, the benefits of knowing where you are at all times and determining the best routes to your destination are being extended into building interiors with indoor mapping.
Unlike GPS, which relies on satellite transmissions, indoor mapping uses Wi-Fi signals because satellite signals typically cannot penetrate buildings. As the technology evolves, finding a person, asset, or room in a building may become as easy as consulting a Wi-Fi-connected device equipped with 2D or 3D graphics to guide you to the right place.
Indoor mapping technology is likely to find a host of practical uses in large facilities such as warehouses and factories, hospitals, hotels, shopping malls, sports arenas, office buildings, and apartment complexes — in other words, any place where it’s easy to get lost. “Using this technology, with a wireless phone, turn-by-turn guidance can be delivered similar to your in-vehicle GPS,” says Louis Nastro, director of land products at mobile mapping vendor Applanix, a Trimble company.
The technology’s appeal crosses a range of sectors, from architecture and engineering to first responders to field service workers. All of them can benefit from having or creating electronic representations of physical spaces. For firefighters, police officers, and other emergency workers, indoor mapping has safety and expediency implications. For their part, architects could leverage the technology to build models when redesigning a space to determine the project’s impact on operations.
When it comes to field workers, the potential benefits are many. “Those who visit multiple complex buildings can have very detailed maps to facilitate day-to-day activities requiring navigating complex spaces,” says Nastro.
Delivery drivers, couriers, and utility technicians, for instance, would be able to more quickly find a customer. “Whether in a large apartment complex or a huge office building, technicians on service calls often spend way too much time trying to find a customer,” says Darren Weiss, a blog contributor to The SmartVan, a field services resource organization. “Time and money are lost, frustrations mount, and service quality drops. Wielding the ability to pinpoint a customer’s exact location within a building could be a very useful feature.”