RGU campus building and path

Never get lost on campus again with RGU’s new digital map!

By Clara Maurillon - 27 February 2024

After identifying a problem with wayfinding on our campus, we decided to task some of our students to create a digital map that would help their peers avoid getting lost when getting to class. The digital map is a project in progress which will see developments to answer to our community’s needs.

Getting lost on the RGU campus might be a thing of the past thanks to a team of innovative students who collaborated with the University to ensure a stress-free experience for all walking to class or trying to find the closest amenities. 

Bill Somerville, Director of Estates, had been aware for some time that staff and students were sometimes struggling to find their way around campus, especially those not based in a specific building. Despite efforts from his team, what they could do in terms of wayfinding support was still limited:

“The provision of hard copy wayfinding – both signage and floor plans – data is not always readily accessible. And, sometimes, room numbers are all that is available on a timetable and not all users are, or are expected to be, fully familiar with the numbering system.”

This is where the idea of an app-like tool was introduced. Creating a digital map would allow students to access floor plans instantly on their phone if needed, no matter where they are on campus, also allowing them to plan their journey in advance with the confidence of knowing where they are going. 

The School of Computing was brought into this project early on, with John Isaacs, Dean of the School, proposing to use the popular RGU Hack event to set participants the challenge to create different digital maps of campus. 

Many students rose up to the challenge, including Jordan Newlands, who studies Computer Science at RGU. Jordan was no stranger to the struggles of finding classrooms and essential facilities on campus and was determined to do his best to create a prototype that could help the University community. He shares the development process that the team went through during the Hackathon weekend: 

“As we delved into the architectural blueprints, our biggest challenge was finding solutions to manage missing and/or outdated room information. The brief we received was minimal: make it interactive and make it useful. This gave us the freedom to use our best judgement and be creative in our approach.

“Despite the inevitable fatigue that comes with a hackathon, the development process was genuinely enjoyable. In the end, the satisfaction of seeing all the pieces of the project come together and realising the potential impact it could have made the effort entirely worthwhile.” 

His team’s concept was eventually chosen to become the official digital map of RGU to be promoted by the University. Jordan was excited that their prototype had been selected but was somewhat intimidated. What was an app created in 24 hours now had to become a reliable service to be used by students across campus. 

Despite the apprehension, and after a lot of work, the app now boasts game-changing functionalities, including:

  • A room number search feature. This makes it quick and easy to locate where classrooms are without scanning a map for what can feel like forever. No more getting lost and arriving late to classes! 
  • An amenity locator. This feature serves as a useful tool by highlighting key facilities such as toilets or lifts on the currently selected floor. In the future, students will be able to locate more amenities, such as the nearest coffee shops.

“Basically, it’s all about making students’ lives easier”, Jordan explains. “Finding rooms for classes, locating bathrooms, it’s the little things that can turn a hectic day into a smooth one.”

Bill Somerville is hopeful that the app will solve students’ problems and is looking forward to seeing how it can develop in the future. Depending on technology development and demand, there might even be an opportunity to develop a “3D walkthrough” which could provide directions in real time, similar to Google Maps. 

Jordan is fully committed to refining and enhancing the map based on student feedback which will be gathered in the next few months:

“The end goal is not just to create a one-time solution but to continuously iterate and improve, ensuring that the app evolves to the needs of all students.”

This app, developed by students for students, is a testament to the University’s commitment to improve the student experience by listening and reacting to feedback, as well as by having staff work in partnership with our student community. Jordan shares that he is genuinely grateful to see how he and his peers were valued in this project, and how it helped him grow:

“I'm genuinely blown away by the amount of impact a student like me can have. From sitting in meetings with the Director of Estates, the Dean of Computing, and a whole bunch of other staff members, it's been a crazy journey turning this project into reality. 

“It's not just about the campus map; it's about realising how much we, as students, can bring to the table and that our ideas are fully acknowledged and recognised. Being a part of this project from idea to fruition has given me a better taste of what it's like in the real world, and honestly, the experience has helped me feel super prepared for whatever comes next.”

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