Indoor Mapping

  • Apple's New Indoor Positioning Technology

    This Marks the Tipping Point for Indoor LBS

    Last week was an exciting one for Indoor LBS! The big news was Apple's announcement and release at WWDC of new Core Location features that let app developers get precise indoor positioning data from an iOS device’s sensors. Here are a couple of articles:

    The quick summary is that this new technology - available in iOs 8:

    • provides location updates for getting indoor positioning;
    • does not need a deployment of iBeacons mesh nor other technology.;
    • Uses Wifi and motion sensors to determine device position.
    indoor-positioning-ios-8

    We are going to need to test ourselves to confirm accuracy, of course, but this is Apple so we are expecting it will be pretty good. Further, we had tested WiFi Slam last year before it was acquired by Apple and now baked into the OS - and we can vouch for the ease of set-up and map callibration and "pretty good" accuracy and reliability of the solution. We will be interested to see if Apple has made any improvements.

    But what is important here is that both Apple - and we think Google will match or better this at I/O later this month - are making big moves to bring the "Blue Dot" experience to a mass audience. That is going to drive user adoption, awareness and demand on an entirely new scale.

    So, let the Era of Indoor LBS begin!

    But Not So Fast

    There are three key issues that have been overlooked in all the excitment about this announcement.

    1. Apple can only address "public" spaces - Malls, Airports, etc. - where it is far behind Google. That is not to say that Apple can't do it, but nobody should confuse a technical capability with the actual hard work of mapping, or assume that "venue owners" will flock to upload floor plans and build out maps on Apple, which has far less

    2. The owners of such "public" venues are becoming increasingly focused on controlling and monetizing their own maps. Yes Google & ;Apple will be there, but there is a lot of messiness in the business aspects of doing this mapping.

    3. Apple still hasn't learned the lesson that the data really matters! It is great that developers can now capture/model the building's geometry more easily - but that has never really been tough. Floor plans or AutoCADS work just fine too. But that is NOT a map, and the data required for directions and navigation is a whole different ball game.

    For more on this topic, see our blog: Indoor LBS: The Map Really Matters.

    A map is only useful when all of the location and metadata related to that map is structured, accessible, 100% accurate and reliable. To get that, Apple will need:

    • lot more collaboration and effort from venue owners than simply uploading their floor plans; or
    • a huge amount of mapping team resources to go do all this work themselves.

    And this is not an Enterprise Solution

    So Apple's move - and Google's to follow - are great news for Indoor LBS. They will influence Enterprise CEO's and CTO's to move more quickly in making indoor positioning available in their own facilities.

    At the same time, it is also important to understand that this is not an Enterprise solution. Approaches such as this - whether handset sensor fusion, BLE Beacons or otherwise - solve the problem of the end user: i.e. where am I now?

    That is fantastic for applications like MediNav Navigator Edition - we will now be able to bring a "blue dot" experience to our clients with much less effort and planning over deploying an infrastructure solution. And providing high quality location-enhanced Wayfinding to patients, visitors and staff is an enormous step forward.

    But the smartphone-based approach does not and cannot address other Enterprise needs such as:

    • tracking and reporting where every ;device that has RF is (BLE, WiFi, whatever) - not just addressing individual end user needs;

    • maintaining network security against rogue devices - a huge issue in a BYOD world;
    • providing real-time and historic visibility and analytics across all devices.

    For this, in our view Cisco MSE / CMX will still be uniquely able to provide the comprehensive solution that Enterprise's require.

    The Path Forward Is Getting a Lot Easier

    For our clients - and any Enterprise looking at Indoor LBS - the path forward is getting a lot easier. Even if Google does not respond at I/O, there are already several "pretty good" handset sensor fusions positioning solutions available for Android (i.e. no BLE Beacons required).

    1. Start now with handset based solutions that support the end-user need for location enhanced Wayfinding.
    2. Consider BLE Beacons as an enhancement option for even greater positioning accuracy and reliability.
    3. Move forward with Cisco CMX on a long term infrastructure to provide robust, Enterprise-wide, comprehensive device positioning for the broader applications and benefits of Indoor LBS.

    For a demo of MediNav and consultation on the best approach to Indoor Positioning and LBS for your facilities, please contact us.

  • Connexient + Google Maps for Work Part 2: Closing the Gaps With Campus and Network-Wide Wayfinding

    Last week, we zeroed in on how we work with Google Maps to deliver true end-to-end, outdoor + indoor maps, directions and navigation. This partnership allows us to make - for example - the complex challenge of parking simple for the patient or visitor arriving at a large facility or campus. The second part of this blog will address the next two common challenges of Wayfinding and Navigation that afflict almost all patients and visitors - and how we have integrated Google Maps to solve them.

    The key to this, once again, is our ability as a Google Maps for Work Partner to:

    1. leverage and integrate all of the rich features and incredible data of Google Maps; and
    2. add custom layers of map data that 'fill the gaps' between what Google knows about the outdoor world and what Connexient knows about your network locations, campuses and facilities.

    Campus Navigation: The Details Are Crucial

    We will focus here on four examples.

    1. Campus Maps: The Details are Crucial
    2. The Campus Entry Wizard: Figuring out Entry Points and Gates
    3. Campus and Network Shuttle Tracker
    4. Network Wide Indoor + Outdoor Wayfinding

    1. Campus Maps: The Details are Crucial

    While Google knows and maps the world around us to an astonishing level of detail and accuracy, any facility manager that oversees a large campus knows that they often fall a bit short in keeping this data current and complete. The reasons are simple.

    1. These are private facilities where Google has no inherent right or access to do its mapping to the same level.
    2. Much of the most important information required for campus mapping and navigation is beyond Google's scope: things like building names, what are the right entrances, what parking lots or garages should be used for each, and so on.

    Luckily, as a Google Maps for Work Partner, Connexient can apply its professional mapping services to add these critical details. We can even add things like pedestrian routing and navigation to get users between buildings on appropriate paths rather than roadways.

    As a trusted mapper and partner, we can also work to help update the base Google Map itself so that errors in the maps that might affect all users - not just those of your apps - are corrected.

    Either way, Connexient is there to make sure it is right, because we know that The Map Really Matters.

    2.Campus Wizard: Figuring out Entry Points and Gates

    While it may seem simple, Campus entry points and gates can and often do present a confounding element to campus navigation. On some campuses, such as the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, gates are secured and specific gates are restricted to specific types of visitors. Or, at other campuses, different gates are frequently open or closed depending on the day of the week or the time of the day (e.g. there may be only one gate open in the evenings or weekends).

    Whatever the reason, if you end up trying to enter through the wrong gate, not only will you be turned back, but all your routing & navigation will be wrong from there. Failing to address it results in a total failure of wayfinding.

    MediNav's Campus Wizard - launching in August - solves this problem by leveraging our knowledge of your facility and campus and presenting the user with a very simple wizard to identify which type of visitor they are. And, our Time of Day Exclusions automatically check whether or not a designated gate on a route is open. If it is not, then we can notify the user and automatically adjust their routing.

    3. Campus and Network Shuttle Tracker

    Many campuses and networks - like the National Institutes of Health - have shuttle systems that are a key service and solution for patients, visitors and staff. Knowing these shuttle schedules and stops - and when and where the next shuttle is arriving to take you where you want to go - is a critical component of Digital Wayfinding.

    MediNav's Shuttle Tracker provides an elegant, totally integrated solution for the Shuttle systems. We can integrate and support:

    1. shuttle schedules and route networks;
    2. shuttle stop locations; and
    3. real-time GPS location of shuttle vans, with time to arrival estimates for each stop.

    When you combine this with our indoor mapping and navigation, we can now connect the dots and provide a real solution end-to-end. Currently, a user inside a building can easily check their shuttle stop and time of arrival for the next van. Upon arrival to their destination on a hospital campus, they can use inside navigation. This includes a time to destination estimate to know when they need to leave to catch their shuttle. Coming soon, we will take a step further and - just like our Parking Planner - recommend the best shuttle location and van for the user based on selecting their final destination and tell them when they have to start walking to catch it.

    Making those kinds of complex problems easy for the user is what indoor + outdoor, end-to-end Digital Wayfinding with MediNav is all about.


    4. Network Wide Outdoor + Indoor Wayfinding

    When it comes to Network-Wide Wafyinding, the challenge is a little different. Google knows the outdoor world, and we can rely on Google to get the user their with 100% reliability (OK, 99.99%), incorporating traffic information to optimize the driving route and providing multi-modal options (e.g biking and public transportation).

    The problem that real world users face fall into two areas.

    Accurate and Complete Data

    All of the network locations - and particularly the locations of affiliated physicians, caregivers and resources - are often scattered around in different data warehouses and resources on a Healthcare Network's Web site, if they are available at all. There is rarely, in our experience, a "source of truth" or process for consolidating and validating such data in a large organization. It is just too complex and, until now, there was no pay-off for doing so.

    Given this, users normally must resort to Googling a particular physician, clinic, laboratory - whatever it is - and hope that the name they have matches what Google has. And if they do, more often than not what will come back is a list of names and locations to choose from, mixing together not just alternative locations but also caregivers and resources that may have nothing to do with your Healthcare network.

    So the result is confusion and frustration for the user. For the Heatlhcare Network, besides a poor user experience, this can also mean literally driving users to resources outside of your network! So it's a lose-lose situation.

    MediNav addresses this by integrating all of your network locations and affiliated caregivers and resources into one directory. The user can then use one simple, elegant search and filter UI to drill down quickly and easily to what they are looking for and be sure that is the right person or place and right location. For the Healthcare Network, of course, this ensures that you are keeping the patient or visitor in the network.

    We have also found with our clients that this becomes an invaluable resource for staff. Now, rather than having to go back to their desk and search through different databases, staff can have the right information available on the go at their fingertips to provide to a patient, make a phone call or even navigate to get there.

    Outdoor + Indoor

    If the user now wants to get to that network location, of course, MediNav provides the end-to-end, outdoor + indoor maps, routes and navigation to get there. Often, a patient or visitor will be starting from inside the hospital and then moving on to their next appointment. Let's look at this as an example. MediNav will:

    1. first navigate them indoors back to their car's parking location - using Take Me to My Car;
    2. then provide the route from that parking garage to the exact street address of the network;
    3. deep link to Google Maps to navigate the user to that network location; and then, if applicable,
    4. again recommend the best parking location.

    Thanks to our Google Maps for Work partnership, we can also leverage Google's rich real-time data on Traffic Conditions, or provide options for Public Transportation -incorporating train and bus schedules, or let them know when they need to leave to get to their destination on time.

    In the future, we will do much, much more with this rich dynamic data that only Google can provide, to give users even richer and more useful information and options that will reduce late and missed appointments and give our clients visibility and leverage to optimize your resources. But that is the topic for another blog!

    Contact Us to Learn How Outdoor + Indoor Digital Wayfinding Will Help Your Organization

    If you would like to learn how end-to-end, outdoor + indoor wayfinding and navigation with Connexient + Google Maps will benefit your organization and users, please contact us!

    Contact Us

  • Connexient, SNCF, Unibail Rodemco and Schneider Electric Discuss Indoor Navigation and Location Service at Pole Star Connect

    PoleStar Connect Day

    SNCF, Unibail Rodemco, Schneider Electric and Connexient discuss use cases and strategic value of indoor positioning and navigation

    Last week I had the opportunity to participate in an excellent panel and event hosted in Paris by Polestar dedicated to use cases and strategic value of indoor positioning, navigation and location-based services. The panel was moderated by Ludovic Privat of CROWDLOC and ConnecteDriver; and featured the following speakers:

    Transportation: Pauline Bongrain, SNCF, French railway operator
    Healthcare: Geoff Halstead, Connexient
    Smart Corporate Buildings: Luc De Crémoux, Schneider Electric
    Malls & Retail: Julien Marlot, Unibail Rodamco

    The discussion was wide ranging, touching on the important real world use cases and value drivers from the large scale deployments in 4 very different verticals. This alone speaks to the fact that indoor positioning and navigation has now truly passed the market tipping point.

    Pauline Bongrain of SNCF presented how location services is enabling both navigation at railroad stations and presence detection that power location-based features that enhance the experience of their business travelers.

    Geoff Halstead of Connexient talked about how indoor navigation is solving the important pain point of wayfinding in hospitals for patients and visitors. Once navigation-quality maps and navigation services are deployed into large complex medical facilities and campuses, howeer, other important use cases begin to emerge.   At Connexient's deployment at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, for example, the primary users and uses cases have been staff and operational. Since launching and features addressing facility management have been added. Other clients are looking to integrate with asset tracking to optimize the flow and management of assets.

    Safety and Security has become a big focus of future development. Today when responding to incidents, safety and security staff are literally "flying blind". With navigation services, suddenly an entirely new range of capabilities become possible to coordinate response efficiently, direct intelligent egress of people from buildings, providing location intelligence and routing for first responders and more. In total, it represents a revolution with very high value to the Enterprise.

    Julien Marlot of Unibail Rodemco discussed how exactly the same progression has been happening after their initial deployment at location services at their Malls for customer experience. They are now piloting the use location services for security response and management, utilizing tags provided by a Polestar partner.

    Luc De Crémoux of Schneider Electricconcurred, summarizing how location services will become an enabling Enterprise infrastructure that will ultimately address many powerful use cases and needs.

    There were, of course, many more topics and insights - please view the videos for complete coverage!

    B2B Use Cases

     

    End User Services

     

  • Enterprise Indoor LBS: Going Beyond the Patient

    Enterprise Indoor LBS:  Going Beyond the Patient

    Several weeks ago, we talked about the compelling use cases for patients and visitors that will be enabled by our new partnership with Mutare to integrate HIPAA-compliant communications into MediNav, starting with integrating appointment reminders with end-to-end wayfinding.   From there, a wide array of useful features and services flow that will tangibly improve the patient experience while increasing efficiency and capture lost revenue for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers.

    Not surprisingly, the same or even greater benefits arise when you apply Indoor LBS to other areas, such as:

    • Operations;
    • Security;
    • Facility Management;
    • Clinical Workflow;
    • and More

    Each of these areas have use cases that bring compelling value to users and direct ROI to the Enterprise in capturing lost revenue, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. That's why we emphasize to our clients that when we develop and deploy navigation-quality Indoor Maps, what we are really doing is laying a foundation for Indoor Location-Based Services (LBS). Wayfinding and Indoor Navigation may be the first "killer application", but it is really just the tip of the iceberg.

    The Four Cornerstones of Enterprise Indoor LBS

    Over the next few weeks, we will illustrate each of these and discuss the steps we are taking together with innovative clients and partners to realize these benefits.   First, however, we think it would be useful to lay out the conceptual framework for how we approach Enterprise Indoor LBS.

    Each of these cornerstones are critically important, and only when all are fully deployed can all of the benefits of Indoor LBS be realized.  At the same time, however, when building any infrastructure - even a digital one - there is a natural sequence and progression, and the Enterprise can realize substantial and increasing returns at each step along the way.

    1. Indoor Mapping

    Navigation-quality Indoor Mapping is the first step. Why? Because Indoor LBS is about leveraging location in all its aspects. Where things are, which is closest, how to get there, how to optimize flows and positioning of people and equipment, and so on. None of these questions can be answered without navigation-quality mapping.

    The good news is that the Enterprise can achieve immediate benefits as soon as this cornerstone is in place - enhancing patient experience with high-quality digital wayfinding being just one example.   So we advise our clients to start immediately and first here.

    2.  Integrations

    Integrations are the next cornerstone - and where the Enterprise can start to achieve measurable ROI. Why? The fundamental driver of the enormous success of the Internet has been the power of connections:

    • devices (computers);
    • applications;
    • data; and ultimately
    • people.

    As a whole, this truth is captured best inMetcalfe's Law, which says that "The value of any network is proportional to the square of the number of its connections."

    This is why Connexient is committed to providing the best and most complete set of APIs and data connectors that integrate mapping, location and navigation into other Enterprise applications, platforms and IT. We hope that many clients will find that MediNav™ and other applications we create provide value. But the greatest ROI from our platform and services will come as our maps, navigation and location-services are integrated to make other applications and platforms in the Enterprise location aware.

    3. Security

    In building a foundation for Indoor LBS for the Enterprise, security is the third cornerstone. By definition, we are building maps and providing features and services that are at the core of a company's operations, as well as its activities and engagement with its customers and visitors. That is vitally sensitive, and needs to be handled that way.

    In Healthcare, this issue comes to the forefront and must be addressed first through HIPAA compliance.Whether dealing with patients, caregivers or other staff and partners, it is critically important that communications and personally identifiable health information be kept private and secure at all times. But other aspects of Enterprise facility data, operations and activity are equally sensitive and important to protect with the same standard of care.

    That is why Connexient partnered with Mutare to support HIPAA-compliant communications and is implementing HIPAA-Compliant architecture throughout its application, servers and systems.

    4. Indoor Positioning

    Indoor Positioning is the final cornerstone of the digital infrastructure for Enterprise Indoor LBS. As we have all experienced in our every day lives with Google Navigation on our phones, asset tracking, maritime navigation and so on, the power of knowing where people and things are - including yourself - is transformational.

    The good news - and the bad news - is that the technology for "Indoor GPS" is currently in a state of very dynamic evolution. For those companies that want to be early adopters, there are good solutions available right now for smartphones and smartpads using a combination of handset-sensor fusion software and bluetooth low-energy (BLE) beacons.  Meanwhile, Apple and Google are working very hard on their own solutions that will be baked right in to iOs and Android respectively.

    Most importantly of all, Cisco is working hard and moving rapidly with a roadmap for Cisco CMXthat will make a true Enterprise solution for navigation-quality Indoor GPS available by mid-2015.  In the meantime, with their recent release of MSE v. 8.0 and the "FastLocate" module, indoor positioning sufficient for "Location-enhanced Wayfinding" is available right now.

    This is why Connexient has invested so much time and resources into testing and pioneering the integration of Digital Wayfinding with the most advanced indoor-positioning solutions available in the market, and works so closely with Cisco to push the envelope of what is possible today and tomorrow with Cisco CMX.

    Life as a young company on the bleeding edge of technology is hard and full of uncertainty. But we believe the risk and effort are worth the pay-off in being able to deliver the transformational power of Indoor GPS to the Enterprise.

    Bringing It All Together

    When all of these cornerstones of the digital infrastructure are in place, the complete potential of Enterprise Indoor LBS will be immediate, measurable and clearly visible to all stakeholders and deliver ROI and value across nearly all aspects of the Enterprise.

    Connexient's mission is to help our clients realize these benefits. We start first by addressing the four cornerstones, working together with partners and clients to find the right strategy and path to implementation. As these are put in place, Connexient is constantly working to improve and perfect its solutions in four areas:

    1. navigation that guides users (whether they be human or machines) through complex facilities and networks;
    2. analyticsthat give both the Enterprise and users visibility into the key drivers for decision-making;
    3. business logic and intelligence that leverage and weave together all of the elements of location, data, analytics, targeting and personalization;
    4. compelling user interface and experience (UI and UX) that make Indoor LBS intuitive, useful and actionable.

    This is how, we believe, Indoor LBS can and will transform the Enterprise and create an entirely new level of convenience, efficiency and utility for end users.   It will not happen overnight or through one single innovation. It will take hard work, planning and collaboration to get there.

    But our key message is that each cornerstone brings immediate value and returns along the path to laying a complete digital foundation and infrastructure.

    In the next articles in this series, we will focus on the "low hanging" fruit in different areas of Healthcare that we can address right now as we move step-by-step with our clients down this path.

    Want to Learn More?

    Want to learn more about Connexient's MediNav and the path to leveraging Indoor LBS to enhance patient experience, reduce costs, capture lost revenues and improve efficiency?

    Please contact us to schedule a consultation or demo.

  • Mercy Health Jewish Hospital Launches "Right This Way"

    Mercy Health’s Jewish Hospital and Connexient officially announced today the launch of MediNav, branded  as “Right This Way.”   Encompassing Web, Kiosk and mobile turn-by-turn navigation, Right This Way provides a compele solution for digital wayfinding to enhance Patient Experience and assist staff and vendors in their daily wayfinding needs.   We are very proud to have Mercy Health as our latest launched partner, and the first in the mid-west!

    “Right This Way makes it easy for patients and visitors to find their way around the hospital. It offers detail-rich indoor maps, turn-by-turn indoor navigation, parking help and more on cell phones, kiosks and on Mercy Health’s website,” said Pat Davis-Hagens, Mercy Health Central Market President and CEO. “We’re always looking to improve the experience of both our patients and visitors and we launched the app to guide you to the department or room you want to visit, remember where you parked and help reduce missed or late appointments.”

    The Cincinnati Business Courier wrote up a great article about Right This Way with multiple quotes from Craig Schmidt, the Chief Operating Officer of Jewish Hospital.     A few excerpts below and follow the link to read the full article.

    Jewish Hospital's Right This Way mapping system provides step-by-step directions to almost any spot in the facility via a smartphone app.

    The free app is available at the Apple App Store and through Google Play. The mapping system can also be used on a tablet or personal computer via mercy.com/WayToJewish.

  • Our Launch With the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center:  The Next Step for Medinav

    Last week saw the launch of MediNav at the National Institutes of Health as NIHCC Take Me There.  This was, of course, an exciting milestone for Connexient in many ways, and there were many things that were unique and significant in our product evolution. But these are the ones that stand out.

     

    Scale and Complexity

    Size really does matter! The NIH Clinical Center has some three and a half million square feet under one roof, in which we mapped over 6,000 rooms and deployed over 950 beacons. We learned a lot and developed many new tools and techniques to deliver reliable, robust facility wide navigation at this scale.

    And that is a good thing since we now have multiple deployments in process that are even larger!

    Introducing the MediNav Web Version

    The NIH also represents our first launch of the new MediNav Web Version. This is an incredibly important part of the overall solution, enabling users to pre-plan a visit before they leave. It also helps to drive awareness and adoption of the mobile app with our Send to Phone and Print features.

    We will have a lot more to say and show about the Web version in next week’s blog.

    Multi-modal Campus Navigation

    The NIH spans 322 acres and has over 70 buildings. For visitors to the NIH Clinical Center, getting into and across this campus is a very big wayfinding challenge in itself. Connexient built custom map layers with our Google Maps for Work partnership to support intelligent routing for patients and visitors to the right gate and then on to the correct parking lot.

    We also added a Shuttle Van Tracker that lets users see exactly where their shuttle van is and when it is arriving to the closest stop.

    And next month we will add even more:

    • Campus Entry Wizard. This will guide users by their type – staff, vendors, patients & visitors to the right gate and parking.  We will even address time-based restrictions, such as knowing when a gate is closed.
    • Pedestrian Navigation. Now users will also be able to get walking routes and navigation to any building on the campus.


    Our Most Sophisticated Navigator Yet

    We were also able to develop and refine important new features that push us forward in delivering true turn-by-turn navigation.

    • Off-route notification and recalculation. When you miss a turn, we let you know! And then get you back on track.
    • Voice and Audio Prompts. This is amazingly useful for navigation, letting you focus more on what is ahead and less on the screen.
    • Enhanced Outdoor – Indoor Transitions. Our new outdoor BLE beacons enable us to provide a instant and seamless transition when entering and exiting the building.

    And we are still learning and evolving. Stay tuned as we release new features later this summer!


    Operational Use Cases

    For the 40,000 plus people that work at the NIH, navigating the campus and Clinical Center is not an abstract problem. It brings challenges on a daily basis that have a direct impact on productivity. That’s why all 40,000 staff members are in the NIHCC Take Me There application, and all 6,000 rooms are navigation-enabled.

    But we also added a new feature for Facility Management that we think will be a hit with all of our clients: a location-smart issue reporter. In a building the size of the NIH Clinical Center, there is a lot of maintenance required. But knowing where there are issues and then directing housekeeping or maintenance staff to get there can be daunting.

    With MediNav, the NIHCC can now crowd-source issue reporting. Any staff member can quickly submit an issue ticket with a couple of taps , attach a photo and comments, and have that sent to the housekeeping and maintenance staff with an exact map of its location.

    The Road Ahead

    These first operational use cases are a great example of something we have always believed and now are seeing come to reality not just at the NIH but across all of our clients: Patient Experience is just the starting point. Once rich indoor maps, navigation and location-based services are deployed in a large, complex facility, they will, over time, be applied to address many other use cases that drive compelling value and ROI. Connexient is dedicated to delivering that value to its clients, and is moving down the path together with them to realize this vision.

    We’ll have more to say on that in blogs to come!

  • Our Partnership with Google Maps for Work: Filling the Gaps to Deliver End-to-End Navigation

    Last week, we were proud to announce the launch of NIH Clinical Center Take Me There which was a major milestone in many ways.

    Foremost in our minds are some of the new capabilities and features we have implemented in our partnership with Google Maps for Work, for which we are proud to announce today that we have become an official partner.

    While we have been working with Google from almost the beginning, our new status will enable us to further enhance our integration as well as get the word out to our clients and prospects of how Connexient + Google Maps together can:

    1. enhance the Patient and Visitor experience;
    2. reduce late and missed appointments;
    3. improve operational efficiency.

    Our Commitment to Network-wide, Outdoor + Indoor Wayfinding

    Our collaboration with Google started from the very beginning of our planning and design for MediNav. Thanks to the 20 year background of our founders in wayfinding for Hospitals and Healthcare Networks, we knew that the challenges for patients and visitors usually start long before - and often continue after - they have arrived at the hospital.

    Here are 3 typical challenges that almost all visitors face.

    1. Parking. Which garage or lot is closest to my actual appointment location, and how do I get there? And where did I leave my car when I parked hours ago?!
    2. Campus Navigation. Here Google often does not have the access to map or update critical details, such as the names of buildings, their location entrances - and respective parking, and so on.
    3. Network Locations. How do I get to the clinic, laboratory, medical office building or other location of an affiliated caregiver in the Healthcare network? 

    Leveraging Google Maps Outdoors


    Google Maps for Work enables us to solve the outdoor component of these challenges with Google’s unparalleled map data, engine and APIs to solve real world challenges of digital wayfinding and navigation for our clients and users.

    • Local data. The MediNav application has full access to Google’s worldwide database of over 100 million business listings and points of interest with the Google Places APIs.
    • Give users the best route. The Directions API enables us to help users get from any location in the world to the our clients facilities - as well as to stores, hotels or other destinations and other local points of interest around it.
    • Location visualization. With Google Maps for Work, MediNav users can see where they're going before they even get there with visually accurate Street View imagery.

    And thanks to the new Google Navigation Deep Linking capabilities, this is not just restricted to Maps, Routes and Directions. We can send a user directly from the MediNav app to the Google Navigation app with the exact location loaded, knowing Google will get them there flawlessly.

    Once they arrive, they then can re-open MediNav to start their indoor navigation - and coming soon we will automatically re-open it for them!

    Filling the Crucial Gaps Between the Outdoor and Indoor Worlds

    As amazing as Google is at mapping the entire outdoor world, it does not and cannot know your organization and facilities. The result of this is a wayfinding challenge we have all experienced at one point or another: being navigated by Google to a general address for a large facility - which more often than not can be very far away from where you actually need to go.

    With our Google Maps for Work partnership, Connexient is able to add and maintain custom layers of map data for our clients that incorporate our knowledge and mapping of their campuses and facilities. This means that together with Google, we can deliver end-to-end, outdoor + indoor digital wayfinding and navigation, solving complex wayfinding challenges. Here are just a few examples.

    1. Adding custom labels, markers, routes and more - the crucial details Google does not know.
    2. Navigating users to the best parking garage or lot based on indoor appointment location.
    3. Providing multi-modal campus navigation in Google, including routing through different gates / entry points by visitor types.
    4. Deep linking to Google Navigation for the outdoor stage of the user's journey.


    Parking Planner and My Car Saver: Making Something Complicated Simple

    Almost every person arriving at a major hospital or medical center struggles with parking. Figuring out which garage is closest to your actual appointment destination indoors can be extremely difficult - and picking the wrong garage means a very long, stressful and confusing journey to start your patient experience that day.

    And then when it comes time to get back to your car after your appointment, remembering where you parked and understanding how to get there from inside the building can be even more daunting.

    Based on our 20 years of experience in Hospital wayfinding, we knew these are not secondary issues. They are some of the most frequent complaints that come up in patient surveys. That’s why we developed the MediNav Parking Planner and My Car Saver.

    And it is a great example of how Google Maps and Connexient work together to provide an end-to-end, outdoor + indoor solution. Here’s a little tour to show you how.


    Step 1: Recommending Your Parking Location. Thanks to our Indoor Map, we know exactly where you are going and which is the closest parking location. Users of course can also select from other available parking options.

    Step 2: Getting You To Your Parking Location. Now you need to get there. Whereas Google would be unlikely to have the garage street address, MediNav can provide the exact directions - and even a deep link in Google to navigate you to the exact entrance.


    Step 3: Getting You Through the Correct Campus Entrance. In very large facilities and campuses, Google also will not usually know what is the best entrance for your destination. MediNav handles and optimizes that - can can deal with special situations such as restrictions based on time of day or different entrances for different visitors.

    Step 4: Reminding You to Save Your Car.When you arrive at the parking garage - if equipped with BLE Beacons - MediNav app will detect this and serve a welcome screen to remind you to save your parking spot. We can do this automatically based on your location, or let you select.

    Step 5: Navigating You On To Your Indoor Destination. Now that your car’s parking location is saved, MediNav will automatically switch to the indoor map and continue your turn-by-turn navigation on to your final destination inside the building.

    Step 6: Getting You Back to Your Car. Hours later, all the user had to do is tap on Take Me to My Car and no matter where they now are in the building they will be navigated right back their parking spot. From there, of course, they can also include their next outdoor destination - whether that be in the Healthcare network or home - and we will send them on their way in Google Navigation once again.

    Through the integrated functionality and the custom data layers that we are able to create and maintain in Google Maps, MediNav is able to make a very complex wayfinding challenge simple for the user. He or she can just follow the blue dot and turn-by-turn directions end-to-end, both outdoors and indoors, with key location-based assists and prompts all along their way.

    Actually making it work reliably and accurately is no less complex - and is only possible with the added functionality and control that we are given as a Google Maps for Work partner.

    Part 2: Making Campus Navigation Work and Solving the Network Location Puzzle


    The second part of this blog will address the next two common challenges of Wayfinding and Navigation that afflict almost all patients and visitors - and how we have integrated Google Maps to solve them. Please stay tuned!

  • Pole Star and Connexient presented on IoT on Health Care

    Pole Star and Connexient presented together at an interactive roundtable on IoT in Health Care at the Telcom Council IOT Forum at the Samsung Research Center in Mountain View, CA on Thursday, December 7th.

     

     

    The presentation to an audience of industry leaders from Samsung, Mitsubishi, GE and others in Silicon Valley touched on the critical importance of indoor mapping, navigation and location services to IOT in large, complex facility and focused on a case study of both patient and staff use cases at their deployment at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD.

     

  • The Complementarity of Indoor Navigation and RTLS, Part 2: Indoor Navigation is Hard

    In Part 1 of this blog, we talked about how indoor positioning infrastructure and solutions will converge over time. Today, we will talk about how navigation and navigation quality mapping are fundamentally different than and complementary to indoor positioning and location tracking.

    The quick summary is that navigation quality mapping and navigation itself is hard, and requires a complex mastery and synchronization of many different technologies, skills and processes.

    These are the things that we wrestle with every day:

    1. Navigation-quality maps. This it the most overlooked requirement. Our mantra is The Map Really Matters - because it does. Apple found that out the hard way. There are an entire set of processes, technology enabled services and tools that are required to implement and then maintain navigation quality maps at the required level of accuracy, reliability and currency.

    2. Location-related Data. The map and navigation could be perfect, but, if it takes you down a half mile of hallways to a doctor (or department, or whatever) that is no longer there, it is worse than useless. This data is scattered around the Enterprise in general today, and coalescing and then maintaining it is a critical task.

    3. Navigation UX. Again often overlooked but critical. There is a synchronized, complex dance of all the above - along with the user interface itself - that all must come together for a navigation user experience to be intuitive and useful. If it is not, it will fail. There is only one standard the user will measure us against: Google (or Apple). So a fanatical focus on that is one of our key drivers.

    4. QA. Each and every one of these components - and the system as a whole - must have QA embedded throughout in monitoring, tools and processes. With navigation, the user expectation of reliability is extremely high - and as we move toward the high value use cases in safety & security, the bar gets even higher.

    So, we believe that indoor navigation and navigation-based services requires laser focus and constant effort to be successful.

    Navigation-Enabling the Enterprise: the Connexient SDK

    When it comes to integrating navigation and navigation-based services into other Enterprise applications - whether a Patient Engagement application, RTLS application or otherwise - there is a different but equally large set of tasks and requirements that the application developer and integrator must address.

    That’s why the Connexient Mobile Application SDK has been so well received. It eliminates all of the complex issues and effort required to deliver indoor navigation from the task list of a developer or integrator and replaces this with a few simple calls to add maps, navigation and navigation-based services wherever they are needed in the application.

    All Screens, Multi-modal Support

    It is also important to remember all of the other uses and needs for navigation-quality maps without “blue dot” navigation. That’s why Connexient has always provided All Screens Support. Whether patient, visitor, staff, security or otherwise, there is a universal need for high quality maps, routing and visualization that can be accessed on any screen at any time.

    That's what we at Connexient do, and can justify that effort and cost because navigation services and navigation quality maps are then consumed in many different ways across the Enterprise. We have plenty to chew on in solving that problem!

    We definitely do not have any plans in our roadmap to be an asset tracking solution. What we are focused on what our clients need: integration and collaboration.

    Indoor Navigation + RTLS: The Low Hanging Fruit

    Based on our discussions over the last year with clients and partner alike, these are the client-driven use cases that stand out when we look at how Indoor Navigation and RTLS can be integrated.

    1. The ability to show the location of assets on navigation quality maps within our app, and navigate that user to them.
    2. The ability for an RTLS system to call our maps via an API and get directions or maps back to their own application (i.e. without blue dot).

    Over the longer term, as Enterprises standardize on their location services and navigation mapping and services solutions, in many cases the RTLS mobile or other applications might also use our indoor maps and navigation with our mobile application SDK and Web APIs.

    The Bottom Line

    The bottom line is that these technologies and solutions are complimentary today, and will become more so over time.

    At Connexient, we will stay focused Navigation-enabling the Enterprise:

    1. Delivering and maintaining Enterprise grade navigation quality maps, navigation and navigation-based services; and

    2. Making those easy to consume in any way that benefits the Enterprise and the end users.

    This will fit together in different ways with different RTLS vendors depending on their own strategies, but we definitely see these to be two complementary disciplines and solutions that can and should be integrated to maximize the benefits and value of each.

  • The Uber-ization of the Enterprise

    Uber Can Seem Like Magic

    If you are the Digital Native type, it's hard to imagine the world now without Uber. If you try hard, you can think back to those days - a couple of years ago! - when we all actually would have to call for a taxi. If you were lucky enough to get a person called a 'dispatcher', there was usually a long and uncertain wait ahead.

    UBER app

    Or think of all that wasted energy spent in any major urban city when the rain starts falling, waving hopelessly at cabs that are all full.

    Uber changed all of that - instantly it seemed, almost like someone had waved a magic wand. You open an app, request a car and within seconds you receive a confirmation and estimated time or arrival that is usually just a few minutes later. You calmly finish sipping your coffee and stroll outside to meet your private driver. All that for a substantial discount off the same ride in a taxi.

    But There's No Magic: Just Navigation Quality Positioning and Maps - and Smartphones

    But Uber is not magic. It is just a tremendously compelling example of the transformational power of combining:

    1. navigation quality positioning;
    2. navigation quality maps; and
    3. ubiquitous smartphones.

    Once those three foundations are in place, the rest is all software. Add a few crucial pieces of business logic and filtering and suddenly, thousands of independent actors - drivers on one side and people looking for a ride on the other - are able to self-organize a hyper-efficient operation for ride sharing.

    None of this is meant to diminish Uber's achievement in the quality of its user experience, technical execution, incredibly rapid scaling and operational expertise. It's simply to point out that from the standpoint of software, there is nothing particularly unique or difficult about it.

    Navigation Quality Positioning and Maps Will Create Similar Opportunities for Efficiency Gains Indoors

    To us this seems blindingly obvious. Sure, the first "killer application" of high quality indoor positioning and maps is navigation, and that is where we have focused our energies as we entered the market.

    RWJUH app

    But that truly is just the tip of the iceberg. Navigation itself is really just an enabling User Experience. We always start our product meetings by reminding ourselves that no patient or visitor to a hospital comes to have "an Indoor Navigation experience." They come to get to their appointment. Our mission is to make that as painless - hopefully even pleasurable - and efficient as possible, and Indoor Navigation is one of the best ways to achieve that.

    But we also spend a lot of time thinking about what other users and use cases would benefit from navigation - and navigation quality maps and indoor positioning. The list is a long one - ranging across operations, work flow, security, facility management an more.

    It is absolutely clear that over time all the same benefits in terms of operations, logistics, analytics and business intelligence that have accrued from outdoor GPS and navigation will translate to large, complex indoor facilities, campuses and networks. 

    The Uber-ization of the Enterprise

    We call this concept the Uber-ization of the Enterprise.Sure - in part because its a catchy phrase. But it also captures what is essential - and somewhat underappreciated today - about the revolution of Indoor Mapping, Navigation and Location-services. That is: there is no one killer app, but rather successive waves of innovation to come, each with increasing efficiency gains.

    When the government blasted all those GPS satellites into space and NavTech (far before Google) set about building navigation quality maps of the world, nobody was thinking about competing with taxis. And even Uber itself is no longer thinking about competing just with taxis, but more generally about "revolutionizing transportation and logistics."

    So yes, its not a stretch in our view to think that we can help our Enterprise clients - or more specifically the people that must get around their very large and complex facilities, campuses and networks - to self-organize and coordinate their navigation and flow to achieve big gains in efficiency.

    One Example:   Our New Shuttle Tracker Feature

    We are going to be breaking new ground in a number of important areas in our deployments this Fall. . One that speaks to directly to this concept is integrating the location data of campus shuttle vans directly into our mobile application. Here we can take advantage of our unique ability to:

    1. close the gap between the Indoor Map and the Outdoor Map; 
    2. track the position of the user; and
    3. integrate and display the position of other users - or in this case vehicles;

    to provide a service that is truly compelling, useful - and transformative in at least this small part of the user experience.

    Our Shuttle Trackerfeature will enable us to show users:

    1. where the nearest shuttle van is currently on the map; 
    2. provide its estimated time of arrival to the pick-up location closest to that user;and of course
    3. get that user to their pick-up location efficiently and on time to meet their shultte with turn-by-turn indoor navigation.

    No - these are shuttle vans - so you won't be to order one to come pick you up on demand. Not yet, anyways! But that's definitely the direction this can head.

    In the meantime, we can make the user's experience of waiting for that van a lot better by giving them visibility into what is going on. No more staring at your watch and wondering. Sip your coffee and relax! Or, if you are just leaving an appointment, we can provide your estimated time-to-destination inside the building- and compare that to the Van - to check if you will make the next pick-up!

    This is just the first step. It's not too hard to imagine where we can go step-by-step as the app is deployed Enterprise wide - to caregivers, operations, security, drivers, vendors - anyone that needs to get around this enormous campus and complex buildings.

    Stay tuned for more on that as we get closer to launch!

    Would you like to learn how Connexient MediNav can bring Indoor Navigation and Shuttle Tracker to improve Patient & Visitor Experience, increase efficiency and capture lost revenue for your organization?

    CONTACT US

  • What is Navigation-quality Positioning Anyways - and Why Does It Matter?

    A while back, we blogged about what are the key requirements and characteristics of Indoor Navigation in What Exactly is Indoor Navigation Matter Anyways - and Why Does It Matter? In this blog, we will shift focus to the crucial foundation that must be in place for navigation to be possible at all: navigation-quality indoor positioning.

    Exactly what is required for indoor positioning to be “navigation quality” is something we have learned, refined and perfected over the last 3 years in a rapidly growing footprint of over 50 million square feet of actual deployments at scale.

    A Little Background on Indoor Location-based Services and RTLS

    First, it is helpful to understand a little background - and therefore the distinction between navigation quality positioning and what is possible with the previous generation of location-based services developed by RTLS companies (Real Time Location Services) such as Centrak, Awarepoint, Stanley Aeroscout and Versus Technologies. Cisco has also become an important part of this space with Cisco CMX and Hyperlocation. These companies were all focused on solving a different set of problems: starting with asset tracking, but over time other needs such as workflow monitoring (e.g. Nurse Call), compliance (e.g. Hand Hygiene) and so on.

    The requirements for positioning solutions for these needs were entirely different and most germane to this topic, did not require very rapid positioning updates, uniform coverage and, for some use cases, high accuracy. Where high accuracy is required - what is termed “room level” or “shelf level” accuracy, it is achieved by a hyper-locally placed monitor or “exciter” rather than any uniform and widespread positioning solution.

    These technologies have proven to be very valuable and important to many hospitals and Enterprises, but what Connexient learned through hard experience is that they could not provide indoor positioning performance that meets the requirements for indoor navigation.

    The Core Requirements for Indoor Navigation

    So what are the core indoor positioning performance requirements for indoor navigation? These requirements are not obvious until you actually try to make navigation work at scale, as we have done. So here is our POV.

    1. Dynamic Refresh

    Indoor navigation requires the precise synchronization of information and prompts to the user based on their location. MediNav, for example, gives the user turn prompts exactly when needed and off route notification if they miss a turn or otherwise stray from their path. This is essential to avoiding confusion and frustration. In order to do this well, refresh rates of 1 second or less are required for true indoor navigation.

    2. Reliability

    Reliability is crucial. Once you give a user a blue dot, they expect it to be available and work in the same way at all times. It cannot disappear, or lag, or be available only when the user is connected to a wireless network.

    3. Uniformity of Coverage

    Blue dot coverage has to be continuous, end-to-end for the entire wayfinding journey. There cannot be dead spots, or places where coverage is not available. For Connexient, this challenge also extends to providing seamless transitions between outdoor GPS and indoor BLE-based positioning, and covering areas like large atriums, outdoor walkways and garages, etc. This enables us to power our popular My Car Saver and Parking Planner featuresthat solve some of the most important real world problems of wayfinding at large medical centers.

    Why Does It Matter?

    At the end of the day, we have learned that MediNav is compared to and must meet the standards of dynamic refresh, reliability and uniformity that users have been conditioned to by Google, Apple and Waze.It is a challenge that we have embraced, but is a very high bar!

    But we took it on because we understood two truths.

    1. Indoor Maps - and even location enhanced wayfinding - will not solve the problem. In facilities of the size and complexity that we address - and generally indoors - users simply cannot cognitively relate maps to the complexity of the environment. Only true indoor navigation, which eliminates the intellectual process of map reading, actually works.
    2. Unless we meet the UX standards of outdoor navigation, users will become frustrated and abandon the solution.To achieve that, we must have navigation quality indoor positioning. Actually, what users don’t realize is that this positioning quality must greatly exceed anything that is achieved outdoors!

    Interested readers can learn more about this in:

    BLE is the Choice for Indoor Navigation Quality Positioning Today

    Over the last 3 years, we have tried just about everything that is out there, and seen that the only indoor positioning technology that can meet the requirements of indoor navigation quality today is the combination of Handset Sensor Fusion together with BLE Beacons.

    This this approach is similar to how your smartphone uses GPS satellites to “triangulate” your position for outdoor navigation and location-based services. In the case of BLE, the technique is called “tri-lateralization” - where we can read the signal of 2 or optimally 3 beacons at one time that have known location. This is then combined with other sensor inputs - such as WiFi and EMF “fingerprints”, accelerometer and compass - using sophisticated “Handset Sensor Fusion” and inertial navigation algorithms to produce dynamic, accurate and reliable indoor positioning.

    BLE is Now a Part of the RTLS and WiFi Infrastructure

    The good news is that BLE has been embraced by most leading RTLS platform and solution providers - as well as CTOs and CIOs as part of their broader "Internet of Things" strategy.  This is ushering in a new era where Connexient is also supporting and leveraging BLE Beacons installed and supported by companies such as Centrakand Awarepoint, as well as BLE Beacons embedded in APs in Cisco Hyperlocation and Mist Beaconpoints. 

    There are 3 basic approaches to deploying BLE into the Enterprise today:

    1. Standalone battery powered BLE beacons.
    2. Powered BLE Beacon - either part of WiFi APs or as standalone units.
    3. USB or other “plug-ins” to existing APs.

    This new landscape is enabling our clients to move toward a unified location services infrastructure, where Connexient can use the BLE beacons installed and maintained by RTLS and other vendors. Connexient can also flexibly deploy its own battery powered beacons as a bridging solution, or in many cases to supplement other BLE infrastructure to ensure uniformity and reliability of coverage.

    Whatever the infrastructure choice our clients make, Connexient will leverage our Handset Sensor Fusion, proprietary calibration processes and expertise to deliver true navigation-quality indoor positioning and our indoor navigation user experience.


    Want to Learn More About BLE and Unified Location Services Infrastructure Strategy?

  • Wondering How Project Tango Can Be Used for Indoor Mapping? Watch This Video.

    Google Shows off Augmented Reality Applications of Project Tango at GTC

    For most geeks, "Augmented Reality" seems mostly to pertain to gaming.  OK I get that!

    But for us Indoor Mapping & LBS geeks, Project Tango's unique ability to both capture reality and then augment itis what is truly breathtaking. To get a sense of exactly that that means and how it will be applied to indoor mapping and navigation, just take a look at the first two minutes of this video, and then 4:50 to 5:45. 

    So - if you accept the idea that somebody is willing to hold their phone up to say waist level while navigating a very large building - and that's a big if - then Project Tango is the mapping system, mapping platform, indoor positioning and indoor navigation all in one.

    I stand my ground that this is much more suitable short term to professional users and use cases of various sorts (e.g. a Facilities staff or security maybe?) then patient/visitor wayfinding. Sure, there will be some early adopters that will love it.  But your typical 55+ year old patient is not going to hold up their phone - much less a mini-tablet - for 20 or 25 minutes.

    And they definitely are not going to pay the price differential for a Tango-capable tablet until it is only marginally higher than a typical cell phone.

    But there is absolutely no doubt that this a technology revolution, and one that will be embraced and applied in all kinds of compelling ways. Indoor Mapping & Navigation is just one more of those.

Contact Us

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Connexient LLC

210 West 29th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 763-6604 | (888) 850-4920
[email protected]