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The Future of Mapping is Going Indoors

Cartographers have a new world to map, as technology opens up the interiors of malls, museums, and other large spaces to online exploration.
November 7, 2015, 7am PST | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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Dushan Hanuska

CityMetric reports on the efforts by Google to start mapping the interior of buildings, which presents a whole new area of exploration for cartographers. Sending people into large venues wearing a rucksack contraption, Google is able to map the interior of spaces such as the British Museum in London, allowing viewers to move from the museum’s basement level to the fifth floor to find the location of specific exhibits.

Google has used the rucksack to build up a growing list of indoor maps... Most are large indoor venues, museums or shopping centres – places which often offer their own floorplan maps thanks to their size and the number of services on offer. It makes sense that these maps would eventually transfer to the digital arena, just as outdoor maps have.

Apple appears to be getting into the indoor mapping space as well, launching the “Indoor Survey App”, which CityMetric notes is accessible only through a direct link to the app’s page. “According to the app description, it allows users to map indoor spaces by ‘dropping points’.”

Moving beyond the 2D limitations of Google and Apple Maps, Harvard University is partnering with the Redlands, California-based SmarterBetterCiities to create 3D interior maps of the Harvard campus. SmarterBetterCities uses ESRI’s ArcGIS platform to create 3D models of interior spaces, such as a map prepared for the ESRI User Conference in the San Diego Convention Center, viewable here.

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Published on Thursday, November 5, 2015 in Citymetric
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