Indoor mapping

Editorial Type: Software Review Date: 2021-04-01 Views: 1,675 Tags: CAD, GIS, 3D, BIM, Building Design, ArcGIS Indoors, ArcGIS Enterprise, ArcGIS Pro PDF Version:
Esri UK and Tetra Tech join forces to provide a one-stop solution for indoor mapping, enabling clients to build digital twins to accommodate an evolving infrastructure

The 'evolution of the workforce' caused by the pandemic is not just going to change people's working habits, as companies develop a flexible mix of WFH and office-based employees - it will also initiate significant repurposing of buildings. Internal office layouts will downsize or restructure their layout to meet possible future social distancing or changing roles in occupation.

Entertainment and sports venues are also having to adapt to new regimes, and although we appear to be getting on top of the pandemic in this country the threat of further similar pandemics will dictate planning for some time to come.

With a well-developed urban infrastructure, the need to reinvent buildings was already a factor in construction, but the current crisis has acted as a catalyst towards an increase in such practices. Hence the demand for an increase in on-site surveying to ascertain a building, sports arena or entertainment complex's external aspects and internal layout. More welcome work for surveying companies, and no surprise that one of the principal exponents of site surveying and GIS, Esri UK, has a division that focuses on indoor mapping.

To enable the company to provide a complete end-to-end solution to customers who want to reschedule the internal layouts of their properties, Esri UK has announced a partnership with Tetra Tech to capitalise on the increasing demand for indoor mapping for facilities management and indoor navigation, at large offices, campuses, or hospitals.

The global consulting and engineering services company, Tetra Tech, will provide its 3D terrestrial laser scanning, data analytics and CAD-to-GIS expertise, while Esri UK will offer its GIS system, with numerous indoor mapping capabilities that include interactive floorplans and indoor positioning for wayfinding, in addition to real-time people and asset tracking - a necessary feature if you want to position your future layout around human interaction.

The partnership will be working on providing customers with digital twin floorplans, using Esri's data collection, modelling and analytical features to populate the floorplan's real-time data. This will provide customers with a clear picture of the layout of a building and its internal structures, and will form a basis for subsequent modifications or improvements. It will also enable them to assess and improve building performance and management, incorporating and analysing data from environmental sensors and other measurement devices within a building.

Wayfinding is exactly what it sounds like. In a complex building or on a large campus, a map of the premises can be accessed on an iOS or Android smartphone which allows employees, contractors or visitors to find their way around buildings, locate colleagues, or just find a suitable empty spot for an impromptu meeting. Alternatively, the maps can be used by companies to layout office allocations in new premises, creating BIM compatible workplace maps.

Besides facilitating the establishment of socially distanced working and entertainment spaces, the indoor maps can be used to specify safe zones, or rapid evacuation routes in the event of fire or terrorist activity. But perhaps the most frequent usage will be the ability to set up maintenance and servicing operations, which can subsequently be linked to an organisation's maintenance routines or agenda.

Esri UK actually allows companies to build their own indoor GIS. It integrates with other parts of Esri's ArcGIS platform, leveraging all of the tools that have made Esri the world's leading mapping and spatial analytics platform. It's powered by ArcGIS Enterprise and Portal, with ArcGIS Indoors providing a range of visualisation and analysis tools.

These include the ArcGIS Operations Dashboard, which can be used to visualise and monitor a workplace in real-time, ArcGIS GeoEvent Server, which gives real-time streaming and analytics of workplace data, and the ArcGIS field Operation apps, which include ArcGIS Survey123 a complete, form-centric solution for creating smart surveys & forms, collecting data via web or mobile devices and analysing the results.

The Esri Indoor Positioning System (IPS) delivers the same functionality you would expect from Esri's outdoor solutions, offering geolocating, wayfinding, analytical and tracking systems within buildings. It is able to provide floor-aware 3D maps and focused apps to support a variety of workplace and facility users. It's a handy tool to have if you are in unfamiliar territory, as you can place yourself as a blue dot on the indoor map, and allow it to navigate you to any point in the building in real-time using its positioning facilities.

The two firms will bring together their expertise, gained through their experiences working with major government establishments and organisations. Esri UK's current indoor mapping customers include The University of Oxford and large energy providers, while Tetra Tech works with major energy, government and defence customers. The firms will work on joint projects within AEC, facilities management, transport, defence and healthcare industries. One area of focus will be helping organisations return to work as Covid-19 restrictions lift.

"As the demand for indoor mapping starts to become more widespread, the new partnership is designed to make the process of creating indoor maps more efficient and streamlined for customers," explained Craig Evenden, Head of AEC & BIM at Esri UK. "Esri UK and Tetra Tech offer very complementary skillsets, ideal for helping organisations progress their digital transformation and achieve a better understanding of their buildings and assets. We are experiencing demand from the higher education, energy, defence and healthcare sectors, as organisations look to make their buildings smarter and improve how they manage them."

Esri UK will be delivering its various software applications for indoor mapping, including ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Indoors, to accommodate any type or size of project. Indoor mapping can integrate and complement existing facilities management software by giving users a geographical visualisation of their estates.

The services offered by Tetra Tech provide the technical elements of the partnership, and include all types of fixed and handheld lidar scanning, from millimetre precision to larger-scale centimetre resolution, depending on the application. For customers who have existing CAD or BIM data, Tetra Tech offers data preparation and cleansing services.

"Our Leading with Science approach is valued by our clients and augmented by a suite of proprietary technologies and analytical tools we call the Tetra Tech Delta," explained Jeff Van Etten, Head of GIS in the UK at Tetra Tech. "We are using Tetra Tech Delta solutions to transform static CAD or BIM data into an accessible, interactive and analytical environment. We make sure the correct data, at the optimum resolution, is ready for processing by indoor mapping software. We are already seeing an increased demand for indoor mapping this year as organisations return to work and can benefit from the digitalisation of their floorplans, which leads to better facilities management going forward."

This is as another example of the closer integration of GIS and CAD. The two technologies are not so dissimilar, and you might say that they both operate within the same environment, the handling and manipulation of geometry and data - separated in the past by two different languages, but now sharing technologies and data more easily and more frequently.