“MazeMap is much more than simply a Map, you can think of it as a powerful mapping and routing platform. By using a combination of APIs to programmatically access the mapping engine as well overlays to provide additional mapping layers, you can achieve lots of interesting use cases. Once you start to explore the APIs then you can find new and exciting ways of presenting and receiving information, you will find that it’s super flexible, easy to use and easy to connect to other apps and frameworks.”
- Chris Dixon, Head of IT Partnering and Innovation at Lancaster University

With the help of MazeMap’s platform, Lancaster University has developed a number of solutions to help students and staff have an improved university experience. These customized features include:

  • A to B directions [1] to help students save time finding their classes
  • Room booking solutions [2] to take the stress out of scheduling lessons
  • Integration with local transport times [3]
  • Integration with campus security services [4]
  • Map overlays with live parking data [5]
  • Information about free washing machines and dryers [6], including how long is left of the cycle
  • A digital twin [7] for managing building & occupancy data, including controlling lighting and temperature remotely

When Lancaster University first spoke to MazeMap, they were looking for a mapping service that would not only serve as a wayfinding tool but would also allow them to tailor their own integrations.

Maps and integrations

[1] MazeMap’s indoor mapping and wayfinding solutions at Lancaster allow students, staff, and visitors to see building details, right down to Points of Interest (POIs), such as toilets, cafes, and parking spaces.

[2] The university also uses the MazeMap platform to visualize bookable spaces, check room capacity, and see which rooms are available to book. The room booking integrates with the university’s timetabling system (Scientia) so that the user can see the meeting in their schedule, as well as receiving a URL that provides directions to the booked room. The URL opens up an interactive map where users can select their starting point to plan out their route and get A to B directions. When students arrive at their class, they then use this integration to check-in. At the start of term, this feature had over 30,000 interactions per day.

[3] As well as getting directions around campus, students can also get public transport information using the university app - iLancaster. The code is custom written for iOS and Android and it pulls in local bus timetables and live transport times for the surrounding areas. This provides users with directions from their home, right up to their classroom.

[4] Another integration that Lancaster University has developed is connecting MazeMap with a security alert system which they have written. If a member of staff or a student needs to call security, they can use their device to trigger the alarm. Security is then alerted to their location on the campus via an overlay on the MazeMap maps.

It’s more than just an app

As well as digital wayfinding and integrations, MazeMap can also accommodate map overlays for data visualization.

[5] Lancaster has come up with some very creative ways in which to utilize these capabilities. For example, parking data is overlaid on top of MazeMap so that users can locate available parking zones. The same is also done with PC data, allowing users to see free PCs. When students are finally able to return to university after the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, they will be able to use the wayfinding function to get directions to a specific PC of their choosing.

[6] The university has also come up with a clever solution to take the pain out of navigating the on-campus laundry facilities. Not only can students see how many washers and dryers are free in each laundry room, but they can also check to see how long is left on the washing and drying cycles for each machine.

[7] As well as overlaying data about laundry facilities, Lancaster are also overlaying building data to create a digital twin of a physical building. A digital twin allows modeling and real time information display that mirrors conditions in a physical building. The university is able to display temperatures around the building and see whether or not rooms are in use, as well as allowing users to provide feedback on temperature and conditions in the building. This type of technology also allows users to control heating and lighting remotely, for example users reporting it is too hot can send a signal to reduce the heating, making the building management process more efficient and saving energy.

How did they do it?

Lancaster University works closely with their students throughout the development process. In addition to three full-time developers, the university enlists the help of their students to write code, design, and test solutions. They also hold focus groups, have over 3,000 students who regularly respond to surveys, and enlist the help of students on their product development board. The university uses a multi-mode approach for student engagement which allows them to maximise engagement and ensure that input from students is useful. For example, the use of surveys is paired with beta testing and focus groups.

By collating this feedback, Lancaster are able to make sure that their solutions are valuable to their users.

The outcome

Lancaster University launched MazeMap in September 2019 - just in time for the term to begin. MazeMap proved extremely popular during the introductory weeks and over 43,000 interactions were logged on the first Monday back.

What does the future hold?

Lancaster University has plenty of exciting plans to continue growing and evolving their solutions with MazeMap’s platform.

A feature that will aim to help the facilities team is the introduction of a function that will offer live control of the campus utilities for authorized building users. Staff on the facilities team will be able to see their own view of MazeMap, which will display where assets such as pipes and cables are located around campus. This will make maintenance easier and will also allow offsite contractors to be directed to key areas when needed.

Another feature that will help users to navigate the campus is MazeMap’s integration with the campus voice service. Lancaster has a service called ‘Ask LU’, which allows staff and students to ask questions out loud (think Amazon Alexa or Apple’s Siri). If a student asks ‘where is the great hall?’ the voice recognition will interact with MazeMap to bring up a search result linking to MazeMap’s directions. In the future, the university hopes to develop this service further so that directions can be read out loud to the user.

As well as providing a variety of ways that users can navigate around campus, Lancaster also plans to implement a system to log occupancy data and person density for key areas of the campus. This will allow them to understand how people are moving around campus, finding out where the hot spots are, and using this data to color code routes.

In addition to these exciting projects, the university is also developing an integration with an agile working system for the campus. They will install a series of intelligent desks, which will be visualized and bookable via MazeMap’s platform. In the new COVID world, this type of feature is one that will come in especially useful.

Overall, Lancaster have taken their MazeMap package to the next level by building upon it in a really innovative way. They are creating a smarter campus, which will not only help to improve the student experience immensely but will also allow the university staff to perform their jobs more efficiently.

If you’d like to discuss how MazeMap can help out your organization, get in touch for a non-committal chat.

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