Most colleges and universities tend to think of interactive campus maps as promotional tools, and rightfully so. After all, the ability of these maps to connect students and other core audiences is well-documented. But as it turns out, that’s far from the only potential use of the right map on the right platform. Instead, campus facilities and administrative offices can benefit just as much from the right mapping solution. Built the right way, a facilities campus map can both serve the immediate needs of the current campus community and make communication to these audiences more efficient.
In a recent webinar, Concept3D experts Michael Davis and Brett Tesmer explored how the right facilities campus map can help in this more administrative communication and campus planning task. More specifically, they explored four potentially beneficial areas in which a facilities campus map can help:
- Construction and future campus planning
- Parking and transportation
- Interior wayfinding
1. How a Facilities Campus Map Can Improve Campus Safety and Safety Communication
Naturally, campus safety is a common concern for both students and their parents. Whether they’re just looking to explore school options or need to know more tangible information about the college they’re already paying attention to, it becomes a core decision and comfort factor.
Your emergency information needs to be accessible, easy to find, and easy to understand. Even specific information like the most well-lit paths on campus after sunset can become vital safety considerations.
Solution #1: Add a Safety Category to Your Facilities Campus Map
Your campus map can play a significant role in answering all of these (and other related) questions. For example, Butler University used Concept3D to create that safety category. It includes a few important campus highlights related to student and community safety:
- The locations of and directions to every automated external defibrillator on campus
- The location of every code blue emergency phone on and along campus walkways and parking lots
- Evacuation rally points for every campus building
- Shelter-in-place locations for every building and hot spot on campus
- The university police department, including easy walking and driving directions
In addition to easy wayfinding to each of these spots, Butler also added descriptions to each category type that provide further context. For example, each AED location specifies exactly what room the device can be found in. Also, each shelter-in-place location includes a direct link to the university’s emergency protocols.
Solution #2: Highlight Your Well-Lit Pathways During Nighttime
Adding a night map overlay allows your audience to see exactly what the campus looks like when the sun goes down and natural light disappears. Pacific Lutheran University used the overlay to showcase exactly how well-lit different walkways are across campus.
Knowing what the campus looks like at night becomes especially beneficial for students who don’t want to be stuck in a dark corner of campus when studying late or taking a night class. When toggling on the night map, they can now follow the most illuminated night paths and feel safe at all times.
Solution #3: Highlight Tunnels to Utilize During Extreme Weather
Using the same overlay function can also be beneficial for university campuses where students may struggle with extreme weather. In that case, a map overlay that shows the tunnels between buildings can keep students safe.
For example, Memorial University of Newfoundland used a tunnel overlay to show exactly how students can get from building to building without having to go outside. In a location where wind chills under -30 degrees are common, it’s a crucial safety factor for students not wanting to be endangered by extreme weather. The added benefit is showcasing a unique part of campus that other universities might not offer.
2. How a Facilities Campus Map Can Communicate Construction and Future Campus Planning
Nearly every university has at least one construction project on campus at all times. That construction may be connected to future campus planning through a new building or maintenance like repairing water lines and roads during summer.
Construction almost necessarily tends to cause confusion and frustration. It introduces inconvenience; people don’t know exactly what the finished project will look like or how it will impact them. Detour path signs are annoying, especially when they appear without warning on the way to class, move-in, or a campus event.
Solution #1: Create a Future Campus Category
This solution allows you to show your audience where the construction is occurring. It will also show exactly what your campus will look like once the construction is complete. For example, Kansas State University added a map category called See Our Future Campus. It shows the vision of the university for all the current and forthcoming construction on campus.
With a toggle of the button, map users can see all the buildings that will appear on campus once construction is complete. This reduces confusion and briefly explains the future benefits of current construction. It can also turn into a recruitment tool for prospective students for whom these buildings will become a reality during their studies.
Solution #2: Create a Construction Map Category
At its simplest, your facility’s campus map is a wayfinding tool. That wayfinding should extend to construction projects. A construction category on your map allows you to show lane closures and potential detours. This helps users follow along both walking paths and roads.
For example, Colorado State University uses its construction category to show exactly what buildings, roads, and walkways currently have limited access. Different colors and arrows show detours; simultaneously, renderings of buildings can show exactly what construction zones will turn into and provide additional background.
Solution #3: Create an ESRI Arc/GIS Feed
Concept3D interactive maps can work with live data feeds. This includes ESRI feeds that can help facilities offices and teams better communicate core information.
For example, Indiana University at Bloomington integrated an Arc/GIS feed into its campus map that dynamically pulls in information about every building on campus from the platform. The feed is updated nightly, allowing the IU facilities team to continue working within Arc/GIS for its building information while trusting that the information on the map will continue to be accurate.
3. How Facilities Campus Maps Can Enhance Parking and Transportation Logistics
For most visitors, parking and transportation are among the most daunting variables when entering campus. Guests need to know where and how to park, as well as how to use shuttles on campus to get to where they need to go.
And that’s only the beginning. Traffic tends to build up while guests circle the campus looking for parking, especially during large events. They’re unlikely to follow printed maps or physical prints of transit routes to navigate their way to where they need to go.
Solution #1: Add a Parking Category to Your Map
At its best, a parking category clearly shows every part of your audience—from visitors to students and staff—exactly where to park and how to get there. For example, Penn State University has a comprehensive parking category with subcategories for every type of audience, including event visitors, daily visitors, students, faculty and staff, deliveries, and more.
Clicking on any specific parking location allows users to see everything they need to know about it, from opening hours of the parking lot to rates, clearance, who is allowed to park here, and more. Then, with a single click, users can get walking and driving directions to get exactly where they need to go, and the facilities office can send a link directly to that parking lot.
Solution #2: Create a Live Transit Feed for Shuttle Information
Transit feeds rely on live data to show users exactly where buses and shuttles are at a given time. This adds another informational layer to the map, showing more than just expected arrival and departure times. This allows users to plan exactly where to be at a given spot to catch the shuttle.
For example, Rice University has added a Transit tab to its interactive map that shows both the routes and the exact locations of its shuttle buses at any given time. Users can toggle on and off different routes to ensure they only see the most relevant information possible. Clicking on a stop shows exactly when the bus will depart that stop after arriving.
4. How Facilities Campus Maps Can Improve Interior Wayfinding
Almost every college campus has at least one building that is difficult to navigate, especially for those unfamiliar with it. During times like finals week, when exams are in different locations than the classes, confusion can become a major issue that detracts from academic performance.
Solution #1: Highlight the Interior Floor Plans
Using your interactive map to highlight what the interior looks like adds another layer of usability while also making your campus feel bigger and more specific to audiences who may not be familiar with it.
For example, the Colorado Convention Center added interior floor plans to its map for all of its floors and levels. The center leveraged 3D interior renderings to add depth, bringing the building to life and creating a more immersive experience for its users. It even added locations and descriptions for the individual rooms, including 360-degree renderings for even more context.
Solution #2: Build an Interior Wayfinding Solution
Adding interactive interior wayfinding adds another layer to your campus map. It allows students and visitors to know exactly where to go within a building, whether that’s the library or athletic complex. That includes a search feature if students don’t know exactly where to go, helping them to find areas like the bookstore or lab spaces simply by typing in their names.
For example, Oklahoma City Community College created interior wayfinding for its core buildings, allowing users to set starting and end points within a building. The system dynamically finds the shortest walking route from one point to the next. It also includes the estimated time it would take to get there. The wayfinding also works across floors to simplify the experience.
Creating a Facilities Campus Map to Benefit Facilities Departments and Audiences
The right facilities campus map is more than just a recruitment tool (although it can certainly accomplish that objective, as well). Instead, it’s a comprehensive planning and communications tool for anything from safety to transport, construction, and even interior wayfinding.
The key, of course, is finding a solution that can help you actually get there. All examples shared in the webinar and above are Concept3D clients, showcasing our platform’s capabilities and benefits for athletics departments. Ready to learn more? Get in touch for a conversation about your communications goals and our platform today.