Joe Fernandes, CEO of BuzzStreets, the digital wayfinding experts, discusses how the phones in your clients’ and customers’ pockets and indoor wayfinding technology could help your company reduce its environmental impact.
We tend to take them for granted, but the phones in our pockets are incredible: a mini cinema; a camera; a radio; an internet browser; we can use it to email, write a novel, or work on a spreadsheet; it can also direct you from one part of the world to another, providing the fastest, easiest route to any destination, whether driving, using public transport or walking. But when you reach your destination and enter an office building, shopping mall, hospital, or airport, how useful is Google Maps? The answer is zero. If you need directions to the correct office door, shop, department, or gate, you’ll need a little more help.
The technology to provide this exists. Indoor digital wayfinding, developed by companies like BuzzStreets, uses a system of BLE Beacons, Wi-Fi signals, and the Earth’s magnetic field to pinpoint a person’s location, giving them real-time directions, both spoken and visual, to allow them to navigate through a building, both horizontally and vertically. And this is accessed via an app on a phone. It works just like a sat-nav, but for indoors.
Indoor digital wayfinding offers a range of benefits beyond efficient navigation from A to B, including increasing sustainability and improving efficiency. Here are just five ways in which indoor wayfinding can help businesses be greener:
1. Minimizing missed appointments
Indoor wayfinding can also help reduce missed appointments. If someone heading for an appointment can easily find a parking space and locate the exact area of the office they need to go to, there would be far fewer missed or late appointments.
Not only would this help make things more efficient, but it would also minimize traffic (and therefore emissions) caused by unnecessary repeat visits. Missing a meeting or being late due to getting lost within a large office building is frustrating at best and, at worst, can lose businesses’ money. Ensuring that clients can find their way effectively to your office means more effective and efficient use of meeting time and far less stress.
2. Reducing pollution in car parks
Looking for an available car parking space can take several minutes. It’s a relatively minor inconvenience that most of us are used to, though nonetheless frustrating. But when hundreds of people spend several minutes each looking for a space every day, that totals up to many hours spent unnecessarily driving around. Multiply that by the number of car parks in the world and this minor inconvenience becomes a major source of car pollution.
Indoor wayfinding could be incredibly useful in this situation, identifying empty spaces and directing drivers directly to available spaces, meaning less frustration for drivers and fewer carbon emissions.
3. Improving efficiency of utilities
Data on where users have been and identifying high and low traffic areas can also make lighting and heating more efficient. If nobody visits a part of an office building after 5 pm, for example, then the lighting can be switched off and the heating reduced.
Currently, that information is difficult to reliably collect or analyze, leading to guesswork, at best. With information gathered by an indoor wayfinding app, you have reliable information on which to base these decisions that could help save money and the environment.
4. Keeping track of equipment and using assets more efficiently
As well as keeping track of where and when people move around, some indoor wayfinding systems (for example, BuzzStreets) can also track the location of equipment. With a clear idea of where the equipment is and how to get there, you can navigate straight to the item you need rather than hunting for it, thereby saving time, energy, and unnecessary travel.
Keeping track of equipment also eliminates the need to buy duplicates of things you can’t find, reducing waste and saving money. You always know exactly what you have and where it is kept, making storage and transport far more efficient.
In addition to keeping track of inventory, wayfinding can also ensure that assets are where you need them when you need them the most. You may always need an asset in a specific office on a specific day. Having staff drive around trying to locate the item and move it back and forth wastes time, energy, and petrol.
Small efficiencies can quickly add up and are even more apparent when the assets need to move between cities. Suppose a specialist device is regularly used in Manchester but never in Brighton over the Christmas period, for example. In that case, it can be transferred once to Manchester and left until the New Year. This can avoid both unnecessary transport and unnecessary duplication of assets through better planning.
Applications of this approach are almost endless. Food from a quiet cafe could be moved to a busier cafe at different times, such as minimizing food waste and maximizing profits. Or office space that is rarely used during the summer could be sublet to other businesses, helping reduce overheads while maximizing space usage.
5. Helping manage the impact of health regulations
In addition to indoor wayfinding’s immediate social and environmental benefits, it can also help with the implications of any future Covid resurgence and other similar health crises that may come our way. Indoor wayfinding allows retail spaces to ensure that people are directed the right way to maximize social distance and minimize the use of certain areas.
Wayfinding apps, including BuzzStreets, also provide user information that can be very helpful in terms of tracking where people have been. Cleaning can be focused on areas that are used more frequently or skipped in areas that haven’t been used, and hand sanitizer points can be set up in the highest traffic areas.
The applications of indoor wayfinding have a wide variety of benefits to both businesses and, customers & staff. Not only can it improve efficiency, thereby reducing wastage, but it also provides a wealth of information that can be used to model and predict behavior. With this information, businesses can make savings that benefit both budgets and the environment.