In an effort to provide better accessibility and direction for students, employees, and visitors on campus, the I.T. Department has designed a new interactive digital map for the public on the BYU-Idaho website. The new feature uses the current location from your mobile device to find the fastest route around campus to get where you want to go. The same feature is accessible on the desktop version.
Those unfamiliar with campus will find it to be most helpful. The public map includes specific details on where to find bathrooms, drinking fountains, elevators, staircases, and wheelchair accessible ramps. When using the map on a phone or computer, the program provides suggestions for the best route to fit your needs by even showing what staircases to take or what quad to walk through to help you travel to your destination in the most efficient way possible.
GIS Senior Systems Engineer Kade Smith who led the project explained that the creation of this interactive map doesn’t just serve those using the maps, but also provided a learning opportunity for his student employees.
“We created this interactive map so that the map data could be more accurate and also give our student employees an opportunity to work with that data since it was available for use,” Smith stated.
The features of the interactive map are possible with the help of the university’s vendor software program, Esri. The I.T. Department has been able to use a selection of mapping tools within Esri that allows access to all of the tools for educational licensing agreements. Esri is also used in the classroom as students can use the program to gather location analytics.
Previously, the BYU-Idaho website used a map connected to Google Maps. While it showed where classrooms were located, as campus has gone through a variety of construction projects, the Google Maps were no longer as accurate. However, the new BYU-Idaho map will always be up-to-date.
The I.T. Department designed the new interactive map with accuracy to ensure that students, employees, and campus visitors can find their way around and get to where they need to be for class, conferences, and other meetings or appointments.
“We are working on the data daily,” Smith said. “The I.T. team keeps up to date on remodels and changes on campus.”
Campus maintenance crews are also using the data to locate water, sewer, electric, gas, parking lot information, safety devices on campus, and fire hydrants. They use a program called Explorer for ArcGIS that allows users to click on map features representing different utility assets such as pipes and learn more about where they are located on campus.
Mechanical Operations Manager Craig Forbush and his team in Facilities Management Operations use the digital mapping program to check the safety status of utilities on campus for those needing details for digging and other projects.
“We have had over 126 utility requests so far this year, so this tool makes it possible to determine fairly quickly what utility is in danger of being dug up or destroyed. We can then use our location equipment (cable or magnetic) to try and pinpoint its exact location,” Forbush stated.
While the maintenance mapping program is only available for permitted employees, the public map is available for use at www.maps.byui.edu.