[A question from one of my respected readers]
Sorry to bother you again but I found something very interesting on your site with regards to “on campus mobile wayfinding used for smart phones, for indoor and outdoor usage” would you able to be more specific and maybe even give me the name of the application used.
Furthermore there is a term I don’t quite understand, the difference between, data driven wayfinding vs. graphically driven wayfinding. I am sorry for the hassle but since I do not have any experience in this industry there are some terms I do not quite grasp, yet. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Kind Regards, Charlotte F.
Thank you for your question and my apologies for the tardy reply.
In answer to the first part of your question:
The name is Here2There Software. It is our own. We make it. But it is more a display, then a mobile application. It’s a window, like the web is a window or the touch screen. The heart of a Wayfinding Application is the Wayfinding Engine and resides on a (web)server.
If a route or a position on campus is requested through the smart phone, the request is transferred to the engine on the server. The engine calculates the fastest route and sends the result back to your Smart-Phone. This method doesn’t drain your mobile, and just as important, it allows for central management across all displays.
The engine knows everything. It knows where all the ‘ways’ are, indoors and outdoors (hallways, roadways). It knows which locations there are and what their position is. For the engine these are entities where he can calculate with. So, when a certain route is requested, the engine literally calculates the fastest route from A to B.
The wayfinding engine doesn’t ‘know’ this data out of the blue. That is where we come in. We have developed a program that turns all the wayfinding variables on campus, like the hallways, roadways and locations into entities. In order for the computer to calculate with the entities, we give them values. These values have properties, like for example a road: One-Way or Two-Way. This is not new, the wayfinder in your car does the same thing. It is the only way to enable the wayfinding engine ‘to do something’ with the data.
The engine is ‘data-driven’.
And that is then also an introduction to the second part of your question, where you ask what the difference is between a data-driven wayfinding engine and a graphical one.
Let me explain that with an example:
1 (one) floor
10 (ten) locations
1 Access Point (kiosk or touch screen LCD in the lobby)
The following is how a graphical design company deals with this (graphical engine)
The number of possible routes is 10, from starting point (kiosk) to each individual location. So they make 10 drawings.
Drawing 1: With a route from Starting Point to Location 1
Drawing 2: With a route from Starting Point to Location 2
Drawing 3: With a route from Starting Point to Location 3
etc. until they have all 10
Upon request, the drawing in question will be displayed.
In contrast, the following is how the data-driven engine handles this
It calculates the route and displays it on the one basic floor plan.
So if there is a project, like the one for a University in PA we just did, with hundreds of locations and thousands of ways, there is only one way to make it and that is with a data-driven engine.
But there is another big advantage and that is the ease of maintenance after delivery. Like I mentioned earlier, in a data-driven wayfinding engine all the data is known by entities, values and properties.
Envision an 8-story hospital with multiple elevators. One elevator breaks down. In the data-driven engine you only have to right-click on the elevator and disable it. That is all. The wayfinding application will automatically create de-tours.
The flexibility of a data-driven engine is endless. If you allow me to refer here to a white-paper I just recently made. Might be of additional use on your wayfinding voyage.
The wayfinding application is the wayfinding engine on a centrally managed (web) server. The displays are touch screens, web and / or smart-phone. Each wayfinding solution comes with a Back-Office application, which is the administrative program for the client to make updates to the application. Following the described process, Back-Office taps straight into the wayfinding application on the server. This allows for up-to-date content across all displays simultaneously.
Sorry for getting technical on you there but hope this helps.