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Indoor 3D Mapping Solving the Last Mile Challenges

The mapping world today is steadily embracing new areas of applications. Providing essential visual images as well as useful data is the natural outcome from each mapping activity.

Today, mapping indoor areas with precision and solving the last mile location accuracy challenge has become a very popular area of focus.

Growing popularity of indoor mapping

Looking back on the history of mapping, the world outside has seen greater efficiency and accuracy as mapping technologies have evolved. Now is the time to shift focus to mapping indoors. Indoor maps are gaining popularity. They are especially beneficial in situations where people need to locate a very specific location inside a large building – like an apartment complex or office building.

For example, when first responders are called to a medical emergency and need a better understanding of the space they are entering to reach a patient in need of urgent medical care.

The reality is that locating a specific address often is not an easy task. This is especially true for Multiple Dwelling Units (MDU) where large apartment complexes have multiple parking areas, entry doors and elevators.

While you may be able to get to the right address, that doesn’t guarantee you’ve reached the nearest parking lot or the best entryway or elevator to get to a specific unit quickly. In critical situations where time is of the essence, this presents a potentially life and death obstacle.

Benefits of 3D indoor mapping technologies

California based company Beans.ai delivers the technology solutions to solve this challenge and reimagine indoor mapping technology.

Last mile challenges
Sri Krishna Hari, Head of the GIS Team at Beans.ai

Sri Krishna Hari, Head of the GIS Team at Beans.ai, shared his thoughts with Geospatial World about how their solution “provides the unit level three – dimensional (3D) renderings of apartments, Multiple Dwelling Units and complex addresses.” According to Murthy, “This allows for easily locating a sub-address in three dimensional space within a building, essentially allowing geocoding services to operate in this area.”

The indoor routing services for apartments across the nation provided by Murthy’s team helps users not only know where a specific unit is located within a community but also show them the most effective route to reach the location.

Precise location intelligence: Industry Use Cases

Several industries can benefit from precise location intelligence provided by three dimensional and indoor mapping solutions.

Murthy shared, “Logistics companies are one industry that has seen tremendous benefit from our 3D and indoor routing solutions, having faced last mile problems for many years. Difficulty in identifying the unit and lack of detailed routing instructions have hampered the logistics industry at every individual pickup assignment across apartments and MDUs.”

Time is an essential factor in the entire business cost model for logistics companies and such challenges can easily eat into profits.

Highlighting their solution Murthy added, “as our partners are tapping into the 3D and indoor routing services we provide, the search element has been eliminated, resulting in a direct bottom line impact, better customer satisfaction and fewer failed deliveries.”

“Route planning and optimization can now be done in a digital framework that replicates the real world in three dimensional form versus points on a two dimensional traditional map. Routes and delivery stops can be planned using optimized sequences with the indoor networks across communities also included,” he continued.

The pandemic accelerated the need for indoor 3D mapping

The demand for indoor 3D Mapping increased dramatically when the pandemic hit and most of the world started spending significantly more time confined to our own homes.

Online deliveries became the lifeline for thousands of people, the need for accurate location intelligence solutions virtually overnight.

Krishna Murthy agrees, pointing out, “with the onset of contactless delivery for food and groceries during the pandemic, the need to provide accurate location and indoor routing services for apartments rose dramatically.”

He further pointed out that the delivery and apartment policies have shifted during the pandemic, requiring delivery personnel to identify units in complex structures and navigate to them to verify doorstep delivery.

With millions of deliveries across the nation every day, the demand to map out densely populated areas (such as apartments) has become mainstream.“

Solving the last mile problem effectively

The Beans.ai team’s location intelligence solution is proving to be useful for many customers.

Moreover, the team has been recognized with industry awards and accolades, including the top Creative Content Award at the Esri Partner Conference 2022.

In talking about how Beans.ai has innovated in this space, Murthy said, “We developed a complex pipeline based on satellite image processing, machine learning, surveying, GIS automation, cartography and three dimensional routable networks to build realistic representations of traversable paths within apartment communities. This allowed us to provide solutions that can give not only precise geocodes (xyz) of units but also the exact turn by turn directions to get to them.” This level of precise indoor mapping opportunities have maximized benefits for all users.

 Personal experience leads to innovation

Real life challenges have always been the greatest catalyst to creating solutions to solve them. The motivation behind the indoor mapping solution developed by the Beans.ai team is no exception.

Five years ago Beans.ai co-founder and CEO had a family emergency and had to call the paramedics to his apartment. However after reaching the apartment complex the paramedics took far longer to locate the exact unit, losing precious time. Fortunately, everyone in this case was eventually ok, but that isn’t always the outcome.

Murthy pointed out the “glaring, critical geospatial layer that was missing and, as a result, Beans.ai was born, with the mission to solve the problem of navigating complex addresses.

He added, “After countless iterations, manpower and technology innovation, we have now developed a framework that can provide detailed turn by turn indoor routing for apartments, shopping malls, MDUs and any address with secondary units to it.”

Effective indoor mapping solution

Given the demand for indoor 3D mapping solutions, the technology provided by Shri Krishna Murthy’s team has provided a valuable solution for customers.

Murthy pointed out “while the data we are creating is exquisite and has the potential to solve many fundamental problems in the geospatial environment, it can be quite complex to implement, analyze and consume the data.”

He shared how their various product features, geocoding services and floor aware maps made available through ArcGIS Online and Enterprise platforms makes it easy for the vast GIS stakeholders to quickly plug in and start using their data.

“Similarly, we have designed our indoor and 3D data in compliance with ESRI’s indoors information model. This would allow ESRI users to easily reduce the implementation burden and make it both cost effective and efficient to turn our data into custom solutions.”

Keeping pace with the rhythm of the world, we will continue to see innovations evolve and more indoor mapping technologies make their way into the location intelligence industry.

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