Monday, April 20, 2009

Upgrade your university's campus map

One of the recent projects we worked on was a campus map for the University of Ottawa (uOttawa). The great thing about this map, is that it is not the usual image or PDF map that seems to be the standard on a lot of universities' websites:

For example the McMaster University Campus and the University of Toronto Campus use images along side image maps and tables to present information.

There are some universities with more interactive maps such as MIT's beta campus map which utilizes the Google Maps platform. This is a good sign and hopefully means the days of maps delivered via PDF or images are numbered.

Google Maps includes a lot of information pertaining the location you search, for example if we search "University of Ottawa" on Google Maps we would get the following:

View Larger Map

This is great stuff that Google provides, but it won't fly with universities although it is already miles ahead of an image map, it does not deliver the required content one would hope to find on a campus map. There is also very little you can do to brand it, customize the look and control the data. For example a big problem with Google Maps, is the data can get old and an old map is useless when its missing the new Faculty of Engineering building at McMaster University.

Onto the good stuff, the Google Map is one right path, but we want more control over the data. What if we want to provide routing between buildings? You might say "wait a minute, Google Maps already does that", but what if we want to route through buildings, along overpasses or even between buildings? What if we want to allow the student to pick whether they want to see the shortest route or the warmest route? Where are the wheelchair accesses?

Now I leave you to the following demonstration: (Thanks to Tim Merrill for putting this demo together - and for the record the background music is perfect)

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