We’ve come a long way since the only way for a visitor or student to find their way across campus was a physical map—or worse, oral directions from the first person you could find outside your residence hall. Today, interactive campus maps can transform the experience for stakeholders that range from students to campus visitors and even facilities departments. When built the right way, these virtual campus maps can allow for easy digital management of all location-based aspects of campus. But they’re also a way to create brand control for campus hotspots. You can also enhance accessibility for those who need it.
In short, modern maps of campus are a powerful tool that touches and enhances the experience of every audience and stakeholder who might come in contact with it. Let’s take a closer look at the nine benefits of interactive campus maps from a variety of perspectives.
1. Improve Your Wayfinding Across the Campus
Perhaps most obviously, an interactive campus map can transform how wayfinding happens on your campus. Through your map, users can easily locate any type of buildings, amenities, and other points of interest on campus.
So far, it’s similar to the printed version. Now add the fact that information on the interactive map can be updated in real time. This includes nuances like construction that requires a temporary rerouting of traffic. Plus, interactive campus maps are available on every device and include functionality to connect directly to services like Google Maps for directions.
The wayfinding impact of this platform, in other words, is significant. Audiences of all types, from students on their first day of class to visitors for homecoming who haven’t been on campus for years, can always (and easily) find what they’re looking for. That reduces stress for everyone involved, including event and campus planners.
2. Enhance Your Accessibility for All Audiences
Basic wayfinding increases in importance when considering the concept of accessibility. We know that 15% of the world’s population suffers from some form of disability, and many of those forms impact how your audiences need to navigate around campus.
Interactive campus maps can help. For example, you can create categories that showcase bathrooms accessible for those with disabilities, wheelchair ramp access points to buildings, and elevators. Any efforts made to make your campus more accessible can be highlighted through this platform.
Also, the map platform itself can be built accessibly. For example, digital users with visual or motor impairments can benefit from mapping technology that can integrate screen readers or keyboard navigation. In a world where accessibility is on every communicator’s mind, these campus maps can be one crucial answer.
3. Increase Engagement With Core Audiences
In addition to core functionalities like wayfinding, digital management, and accessibility, campus maps can also serve as a crucial engagement tool when looking to build a rapport and relationship with your audience. It’s possible through the integration of multimedia elements, like videos and even virtual tours, that can provide a more immersive experience for users.
That engagement can also extend to your users’ interactions with their own network. Through the map, for example, a student can share their location or send a map point and directions of a specific location to their family ahead of commencement or Family Weekend. The more time your audience spends on the platform, the more engagement opportunities will present themselves.
4. Improve the Event Experience for Campus Visitors
Every college campus will host several large events requiring significant planning and optimization. Homecoming, commencement, admissions open houses, and Move-In Weekend are the most obvious examples, but it doesn’t end there. For example, large athletic events can be confusing for visitors who aren’t used to the campus infrastructure and need to find their way.
Interactive maps don’t solve every logistical challenge related to these large events. But they can significantly improve the experience for your visitors. Parking spots are easy to identify; so are food and drink spots before, during, or after the event.
Then there’s move-in day, an event with complexities that can improve drastically through the strategic use of your campus map. The real-time ability to navigate campus, including the various necessary check-in points, will be vital for nervous families looking to save time and reduce stress.
5. Optimize Your Event’s Digital Management Logistics
Beyond their benefits for external audiences, interactive maps can also improve the digital management of these same events from an internal perspective. Formerly significant logistical challenges can be simplified significantly. It’s all thanks to the preponderance of data and information available to facilities and digital management employees.
That includes, for example, the ability to plan ahead for parking and transportation. But it also includes building safety features on the map itself that might otherwise be difficult to navigate. The digital management of this safety component will be especially valuable for campus safety officers charged with keeping the event secure for everyone involved.
6. Provide Real-Time Access to Important Navigational Information
Perhaps the single biggest difference between interactive campus maps and their physical, printed equivalent is their ability to provide real-time information to users. That can manifest itself in a wide range of ways:
- Enhanced security: Share real-time information about emergencies and which locations are safe. You can also provide guidance on the best course of action to take.
- Construction information: Share which areas of campus are closed at any given time. Also, provide the best navigational path around those areas.
- Traffic and parking data: Live data feeds can show anything from occupancy rates in specific parking lots to the real-time location of campus shuttle buses.
Approached the right way, this live data integration can go even further to increase convenience for students. For example, Penn State University uses live data to show the occupancy rate of computer labs, allowing students to understand where they can go for their studies before they leave their rooms.
7. Highlight Key Components and Selling Points of the Campus
Not many universities consider the brand control opportunities that interactive campus maps can bring. These opportunities can range widely depending on the right integration.
Campus maps can enhance branding by allowing you to showcase the unique features and amenities your university offers. They allow users to learn more about:
- A new building
- A popular and unique hang-out spot
- The vibrant downtown
- And more
At the same time, you retain brand control at all times because you remain in control of the message. Once that brand messaging is built into your digital map, you can link to it from your other channels. Options from your website and email to social media and more.
8. Provide Self-Guided Campus Tours for Visitors
A large part of the typical college recruitment strategy revolves around getting visitors to come to your campus. Typically, that happens in the shape of a guided campus tour or a larger event, like an open house. But through your virtual map, you can add another option to the mix of potential visit options for your prospective students.
The map itself can provide an opportunity for visitors to find their way around campus. But you can also build a more structured self-guided tour, complete with a pre-set order of spots and audio narration from your tour guides. Thanks to the integrated navigation and wayfinding capabilities, it’s an easy way to expand campus access beyond the times your admissions office has available for tours.
9. Create an Integrated Location-Based Content Infrastructure
Ultimately, all of these digital management benefits are true for interactive campus maps. But they’re also relatively isolated to the platform. In reality, this tool is not just beneficial for its own features but also for how it can connect your larger content infrastructure.
Your audience can engage with your campus map on any device. This makes it easier to access location-based information while on the goal. The platform itself helps you organize and present information about your campus in a clear and concise manner, making it easier for users to find what they need.
But most importantly, your campus map is linkable from almost any other channel at your promotional and communications disposal. Emails, websites, social media, and even printed publications can all link to the general map or specific sections.
As such, it can quickly become the core location-based feature in all of your communications to all core audiences. This single source of truth for your physical campus environment also allows you to maintain brand control over these aspects of your university more easily.
Ready to Enhance Your Campus Experience Through Interactive Campus Maps?
Interactive campus maps are powerful. So powerful, in fact, that not all of their benefits may be immediately obvious. But once you uncover these benefits, you realize just what an integral part of your communications strategy this mapping platform can become.
Of course, you still need a reliable platform and partner by your side to make that happen. Concept3D has worked extensively in higher education, leveraging our interactive map platform for all of the purposes mentioned throughout this post. Ready to learn more? Contact us to start the conversation today.