By Laura Fenton
The cliché excuse for tardiness at the University of Memphis — “I got lost” — won’t
hold starting in August. A computer, smartphone or tablet will give users access to
precise directions and maps for certain buildings on campus right down to the exact
room with indoor mapping from Google Maps.
“Just like any other map, I think directions like this will help you figure out where
you're going a lot quicker,” said Carol Ann Walker, U of M graduate student in the
Public Administration program. “It would also probably make you a little less stressed
out on your first day of class.”
The U of M is one of the early adopters in the state to integrate the indoor mapping
feature. This newest facet of Google Maps, available in the student center today and
expanding to new parts of campus in the future, is visible through both the Google
Maps website and the official Google Maps app.
“The Google staff will walk around buildings on campus to help determine the wayfinding
for the maps,” said U of M webmaster Allecia Powell. “After that, students will be
able to navigate from building to building and from area to area within a building
using Google Maps on their smartphones.”
Google launched indoor maps in November 2011 and began reaching out to universities
the following February.
“College students are usually the most tech savvy, so we know they’re going to be
using something like this to get around campus,” said Jacqui Erwin, partner operations
specialist at Google in Chicago. “Plus, this is a great way to market your university
as being on the cutting edge of technology.”
These indoor maps may also become integrated with the U of M mobile app in the future
through the Google Maps API.
By zooming in on campus buildings like the University Center, Google Maps indoor floor
plans show details that make finding your exact destination easier. During the summer,
floor plans for all public buildings on campus will be uploaded for general use.
To view the detailed floor plans, zoom in to the desired building. A blue dot serves
as your starting point, and moves with you to determine your current location. If
you move up a level, the map will refresh to the next floor. The step-by-step directions
provide specifics of the interior distances to walk.
“It tells you where to go, down to where to take the stairs and that the room will
be on your left,” Erwin said.
Walker, who moved to Memphis less than two year ago from Jackson, Miss., still uses
GPS devices occasionally when driving around town.
“I'm still learning my way around Memphis,” she said. “I have a decent sense of direction,
but for somewhat large buildings like the UC, a map would probably be more helpful
than someone's verbal directions.”