How indoor mapping can help build smart cities

It is no surprise that technological advancements have affected the field of urban development and planning. Smart cities—or cities that consistently record and use data in order to evolve to meet citizens’ needs and improve their lives—are the future of urban society. One of the most useful tools for smart city planning is indoor mapping. In this guide, we will explore what indoor mapping is and how it can help build effective and forward-thinking smart cities.

What exactly is indoor mapping?

Indoor mapping is the representation of indoor spaces using technology. Simple indoor maps can be basic 2D floor plans, while more complex maps can even be 3D simulations. Many indoor mapping systems can even be interacted with in real time, such as the urban city district mapping solution by MappedIn which allows you to interact with maps in real time.

Uses of indoor mapping for smart cities

Indoor mapping is used for various purposes in buildings such as hospitals, supermarkets, and many others. It is no surprise that the benefits of indoor mapping can extend to the scale of an entire city! Here are some of the uses that indoor mapping can provide for smart cities.

Assisting with wayfinding and navigation

On a smaller scale, indoor mapping apps can assist users with navigation and wayfinding, particularly in spaces such as warehouses, department stores, and multi-storey car parks. The ability of indoor mapping solutions to measure vertically as well as horizontally (unlike traditional GPS systems) makes them particularly useful for cities which are responding to overcrowding by growing vertically (e.g., high-rise apartment blocks and offices) rather than spreading out over further ground. 

Signalling hazards to improve public safety

The potential public safety applications for indoor mapping are highly promising. While traditional outdoor GPS systems can be used to mark potentially dangerous areas such as sites of traffic collisions (or even less serious inconveniences such as traffic congestion) or crime, these do not typically extend to indoor spaces. Many indoor spaces are home to potential hazards, from accidents in warehouses to theft in airports and train stations. Indoor mapping can make cities safer to live and work in.

Offering personalized route planning 

Route planning is often limited to GPS apps such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze, or in-vehicle satellite navigation (or satnav) systems. However, routes taken when living and working in a city are often more complex than getting from one building (e.g., your home) to another (e.g., your workplace). With more and more people living in apartment blocks and/or working in high-rise office blocks, the vertical navigation can be half of the journey! A combination of indoor mapping and traditional GPS systems can be particularly useful here, especially for people with disabilities who want to choose a route that avoids stairs in favor of an elevator.

Providing analytics for future urban development

The ability of indoor mapping solutions to gather information can be useful to city planners. Studying data such as common routes from one place to another and the number of people visiting particular buildings can highlight trends in education, entertainment, health, and many more. This data can be used to plan for the future—e.g., if a hospital is experiencing high traffic, this could signal the need to build another.

How could indoor mapping change the future of cities?

Every use of indoor mapping to improve urban life leads to more efficient and necessary development of urban spaces in order to meet the needs of the population. In addition to this, the potential benefits for sustainability and the environment are also promising. Smart cities are the future of urban living, and indoor mapping can play an important role in bringing about this future.

Written by: editors Smart City Hub.

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