The Benefits of Integrating Wayfinding with Digital Signage and Who’s Using it Now

In addition to emergency notification, universities and hospitals can leverage their digital signage networks for maps and directions in buildings and on campuses.

“Wayfinding” refers to the tools and processes used to help people, well, find their way from a starting place to a destination, and possibly also help them get more information about the facility.

Old-school “analog” wayfinding includes printed signage, both permanent and per-occasion; paper maps, directions and asking somebody. But hardcopy can be out of date, incomplete, not detailed enough or not indexed in a way that lets us figure out our destination. Plus, the people we ask don’t always know the answer.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent way too much time being lost in convention centers, hotels, airports, hospitals, company headquarters, college campuses and other places where the GPS-enabled map/direction app on my iPhone wasn’t helpful. This includes, at times, buildings of companies where I’ve worked — even when I’ve got my destination written out and checked the map on the wall. Or I have asked people for directions.

So I’m more than ready for tools like wayfinding digital signage that can save me time and frustration — and I can’t be the only one..

Digital wayfinding for drivers (and passengers), bicyclists, pilots, etc. typically uses a mobile or embedded device, like a dedicated-purpose Garmin navigator or an app on your iPhone or Android smartphone.

This may yet come to pass for building and campus wayfinding. (Google, for example, is apparently already at work mapping university campuses and some buildings; I have a vision of fleets of smartphone-equipped iRobots maze-solving their way around these facilities.)

Meanwhile, organizations are turning to digital signage as a better way to provide wayfinding to tell me — and others — where to go and how to get there when we’re on foot in buildings and on campuses.

Who’s Using Digital Wayfinding Signage?

Like digital signage in general, wayfinding digital signage is being put to use in a growing range of markets and venues, notably meetings and hospitality (convention centers, hotels, and resorts); colleges and universities; hospitals and other medical facilities; and business offices and public spaces, residential complexes and other facilities.

This includes both within individual buildings and for multi-building campuses. Additionally, retail stores and malls are taking advantage of wayfinding digital signage…and even cruise ships are using digital wayfinding signage.

Visix, for example, reports providing wayfinding digital signage for higher-ed institutions including MIT, Harvard and the University of Iowa, along with hospital/medical and hospitality sites, according to Jill Biazzo, creative services project manager forVisix.

“Hotels are increasingly using digital wayfinding signage,” says Dave Rathbun, vice president, National Accounts, Four Winds Interactive. Hotels using Four Winds’ products include the Courtyard by Marriott chain’s new GoBoard Virtual Concierge and many hotels in Las Vegas. Wayfinding digital signage doesn’t just improve the experience, but also helps keep visitors in them, by showing what shops and restaurants and other services are available within the facility.

Digital wayfinding signage can even be found on the waters, says Rathbun. “The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has a fleet license and is using it to help passengers. There’s a wayfinder at every elevator and lobby, also allowing passengers look and see the wait times at the restaurants and other facilities and services.” And soon, says Rathbun, “they’ll be handing passengers iPads for the voyage, for signing up and also for wayfinding.”

The Benefits of Wayfinding

The most obvious, although perhaps hardest to quantify monetarily, benefit of digital wayfinding is saving time and reducing frustration for people looking to find and get to their destination in an unfamiliar environment.

Being able to determine where you’re going and how to get there not only lets you get there more quickly, avoiding the time to “suss out” what’s going on, or find somebody who can help you, (And avoiding going in the wrong direction), it also reduces the stress of having to solve the “where am I going?” problem. Even if you can’t put a dollar value on reducing avoidable employee, visitor and customer stress, there’s no argument that it minimizes mood-dampeners.

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