It’s tempting to think of campus maps in narrow terms. Admissions offices can use them to promote the beauty of the campus. Any department hosting events can direct visitors to the right buildings and event spaces. But in reality, the potential advantages of building an interactive map spread much further across campus.
Take facilities departments as an example. This part of the typical college workforce is the hidden heart of campus, from managing construction to landscaping. It ensures everything works as intended for students and faculty. Interactive campus maps, built right, have significant advantages to organize, manage, and streamline that work.
That’s not just a hypothetical statement, either. Campus maps can help facilities departments optimize their work in these 6 crucial, logistical ways.
1. Data Organization
Facilities departments tend to hold a significant amount of information. This includes anything from basic building GPS data and construction information to contingency and emergency plans. Organizing that data, traditionally, has required multiple databases, stakeholder meetings, PDFs, and more.
When built the right way, your interactive map can streamline that process significantly. All data merge into a single location, but can still be segmented enough to push at relevant points to various industry groups. This results in a better user experience, both for the department itself and for any stakeholders with whom they work.
A better organization of data also leads to easier day-to-day management of that information. Instead of a once-yearly update that could lead to outdated information at other points during the year, data can be accurate on an ongoing basis. It allows stakeholders to find what they’re looking for at all times.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a constant and consistent topic for facilities departments at every type of college or university. Enforcement, responsibility, and ownership of making sure that all physical spaces across campus are accessible to anyone with a disability tend to fall to them. These are the crucial tasks that are also a significant logistical challenge.
Interactive campus maps might not be magical solutions to this challenge, but they can certainly play a major role. A map layer can show anything from accessible entrances to accessible parking, bus stops, and even bicycle racks. On a basic communication level, this information can easily be shared with internal and external audiences to meet and surpass basic compliance regulations.
Beyond that basic role, facilities managers can also use accessibility information on their campus maps for analysis and improvement. While audiences can see the amount of bicycle racks for a given building or area of campus, construction planners can evaluate whether that amount is enough, or more are needed. Any new construction can easily be built with an immediate idea of current, latent needs in this area as well.
Over the past decade or two, we’ve seen a significant move in higher education towards sustainability as a campus priority. Organizations like AASHE now rank universities based on environmentally friendly their campuses are. Almost every new building has to come with at least some consideration of the concept. While planning of sustainability efforts tends to be university-wide, implementation and daily management of these planning efforts tend to fall to facilities departments.
Once again, the campus map can serve to both shows and plan for these sustainability efforts. Each building can come with an outline of exactly how this topic is treated. A map layer or section can showcase the effort on a broader scale. It’s a perfect opportunity to show off your work in this area. Anything from daily cleaning to new construction can be planned with this context in mind.
That same topic also bleeds into audience education. While education may not be the primary focus of facilities departments, it still plays a core role. For example, the ability to showcase Indigenous landmarks can help to showcase exactly what the university is doing to help advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Even while helping the departments plan carefully around it on anything from construction to renovations or daily tasks.
4. Employee Onboarding
Employee onboarding is a core consideration for any profession. In a department so closely connected to the physical environment in which it exists, it only becomes more vital. While an interactive map may not be your first consideration when building an onboarding process for a position in facilities, it can still help the process in a wide range of ways:
- Familiarize new employees with core areas around campus. This includes potentially a private map tour (available only via link) that allows them to walk or drive around on their own.
- Highlight the areas in which new employees will work. This includes not just buildings but areas within buildings, access points, exterior electrical connections, and more.
- Emphasize some of the spots they may not be familiar with through a more formal onboarding process. Where to get coffee on campus while out on a repair job, for instance.
Again, this map function by no means replaces the entire existing onboarding process, which typically comes with plenty of formal paperwork and training. However, it can orient new facilities employees more specifically within their physical environment. This creates a more natural transition to their first days and weeks working on campus.
Wayfinding is naturally important for any large physical area like a college campus. It only becomes more important for the employee groups most involved in both moving around that campus and letting others know how to move around campus easily.
Think about a large university’s many academic departments and offices. A service call because of a broken waterline during office hours cannot wait for in-depth explanations of how to get there. An easily available interactive map with integrated GPS navigation, on the other hand, allows maintenance personnel to quickly get there in the fastest and most efficient way possible.
The right campus map can help departments organize traffic across campus for all other audiences. Construction of new buildings may require a detour. Heavy snowfalls in winter may lead to some sidewalks being more accessible than others. Easily being able to tell students and other staff this crucial information can go a long way towards keeping everyone safe and campus moving efficiently.
A digital campus map allows facilities departments to orient themselves against the physical location of individual campus buildings. This, in turn, can be beneficial when planning and communicating to the campus community in a wide range of ways:
- Visually being able to show where students live in off-campus communities allows them to better understand which of these communities are closer or further away from campus, and which services they have access to.
- Highlighting off-campus locations provides audiences with a better understanding of the university. It also shows how it exists not just within its local community but within a broader national or global experience.
- Showcasing buildings that are connected to, leased by, or owned by the university off-campus, like downtown in the nearest city, shows the economic impact of the university on the larger community. It also allows facilities departments to more easily keep these off-campus buildings front and center in their maintenance and construction plans.
Generally speaking, the work facilities departments do tends to be all about location. An interactive map that puts this location both front and center and within the larger context of the physical space surrounding it can help streamline that work, as well as the stakeholder communication that comes along with it.
Building a Better Interactive Campus Maps for Your Facilities Department
In short, modern campus maps (when used the right way) can become a core part of how modern university facilities departments operate. From accessibility to sustainability, and onboarding to wayfinding, interactive features can become vital planning and communication tools across the university.
Of course, you need a strategy to get there. Through your marketing, admissions, or student affairs department, your university already might already have an interactive map. In that case, integrating your own priorities into the external stakeholder communication they likely undertake with it becomes a vital piece of a more holistic, streamlined map experience.
Even when building a map from scratch, working with these partners can help you build a better campus map. Still, though, prioritizing just why your department needs it should play a role in both choosing the right platform and building out that platform for your own needs and preferences.
We cannot help with every nuance of that process, but we can help you find the right platform. After all, Concept3D has built digital, interactive campus maps for both logistical and communication purposes for years. We have plenty of examples to show just how facilities departments at universities of all types and sizes have used our maps to their advantage.
Let’s talk. If you are looking to streamline your department’s work and make its processes more efficient, we might be able to help. Contact us today to start that conversation.