Recently, Michigan State University introduced GoodMaps to campus, improving accessibility in indoor navigation. Leslie Johnson, Assistant Director of Assistive Technology and coordinator of this initiative, explained that GoodMaps is a digital mapping app that uses LiDAR (3D laser scanning), image recognition, and positioning technology to create maps for indoor navigation. This allows students to have accurate, turn-by-turn directions when searching for a specific location within a building. GoodMaps reached out to Leslie this past winter, after MSU hosted the Accessible Learning Conference, and immediately intrigued Leslie and her team, as indoor navigation has been a challenge on MSU’s campus. Leslie comments, “after several meetings with GoodMaps, and getting the STEM Building on board as a partner, we were able to make it a reality.”
Once this project was approved, GoodMaps visited MSU’s campus and walked through the STEM building and the first floor of Bessey Hall with a LiDAR backpack that took 360-degree images, laser measurements, and video. From this data, GoodMaps will develop a detailed and accurate digital map of the spaces that they scanned. Once this is finalized, the map will be available in the GoodMaps app for anyone, whether they are a student, faculty member, staff member, or visitor, navigating these buildings. Leslie explains,“GoodMaps will be extremely useful for those on campus that are blind or have low vision, but will also be beneficial to anyone that is trying to navigate through an unfamiliar building. Anyone on campus that is needing to find a room, point of interest such as a vending machine, or specific location, will be able to get accurate navigation directions through GoodMaps.”
GoodMaps is expected to be ready for public use this upcoming semester, once the digital maps of the STEM building and Bessey Hall are finalized and published. Leslie is currently working on encouraging more MSU buildings to participate in GoodMaps. Her goal is to see every campus building scanned to become an accessible GoodMaps building. In the meantime, Leslie and her team are confident that GoodMaps will be a success and hope the digital maps of Bessey Hall and the STEM building will motivate other buildings to join in on this initiative.
To learn more about GoodMaps, check out their website at: https://www.goodmaps.com/