**This is a two-part feature. For more information on the technology for indoor mapping and positioning see the companion piece in Informed Infrastructure, “Interior Location and Mapping: Prompted by Innovations that Improve Position and Navigation.”
MAKING THE BUSINESS CASE FOR MAPPING our world is not up for argument for those large technology companies that build both mobile devices and mobile ecosystems. The map provides a necessary glue to deliver services and provide search results, while also delivering advertisements. The map wars between Google, Apple and Amazon are just beginning to heat up, with each company looking for an edge. Large amounts of money are being spent to improve maps in order to facilitate real-world con- nections, and indoor mapping is one of those potential technology advantages that could change the mapping and navigation playing field.
Indoor location is more like a directory within a map, as there’s a need to catalog businesses and services on multiple levels of buildings by different categories in a way that is easy to navigate. There’s a large up-front cost here, because mapping at this level requires a great deal of hard work and it’s an investment that never ends, because the world is always changing. Revenue to offset the investment is largely a future promise. It follows that the best maps, with the best integra- tion to the device and surroundings, will win a large portion of the large local search marketing dollars. The ability to push offers while also helping consumers navigate cluttered surroundings has a strong appeal from both sides. McKinsey & Company puts the value of search at more than $40B in value worldwide as of 2010, with growing revenue coming from local searches on mobile devices.
Matt Ball has been promoting the application of sensors, models and systems for the better stewardship of our planet for the past fifteen years. The first ten years of that span were as editor of GeoWorld magazine and show manager of the GeoTec Event. The past five have been as a founder of Vector1 Media, with publications Sensors & Systems and Informed Infrastructure.
There are just a few players in this global play to aggre- gate information onto a map for the world, and interior mapping for greater connection to consumers is a priority. A good many data providers hope to license their map information to help these companies compete against one another. This consumer-level battle- ground provides a platform for interior location and mapping for a number of use cases, but there are whole levels of additional interior mapping use cases that show great promise to solve business problems at a more granular scale.
Mapping and Cataloging Interiors
Most operators of vehicle fleets deploy in-car GPS tracking and logistics software today in order to improve the efficiency of their fleet, adding the ability to route more directly or have the closest vehicle respond to services requests. This investment for fleets has direct benefits in reduced fuel and time on the road, and therefore less maintenance. While this market is fairly mature, a similar approach and benefits can be applied in order to track movable assets indoors. The challenge indoors, where GPS signals don’t work, is to both capture and map the interior as well as to provide the means to determine real-time location.
With mapping and tracking we gain the ability to quickly find a piece of high-cost equipment or deliver tools or materials at the right time and place. Manufacturers are using maps and tracking to facilitate the lean manufacturing process and keep the assembly line moving, while also helping streamline processes. Hospitals need to keep track of expensive mobile machines for both efficiency and for saving lives. These two application areas are just a few that benefit from Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) that provide both the where and when.
There are a number of players in the RTLS solution space...
The complete article is available in the Fall 2012 Digital Edition of LBx Journal.