Built on a hilly terrain, the NUS Kent Ridge campus can sometimes prove challenging to navigate. A team from the NUS Smart Systems Institute has attempted to address these difficulties by developing a navigation phone app named NUS Maps that offers easy-to-follow directions throughout the entire campus.
A project under the NUS Living Lab initiative, NUS Maps is built similarly to other navigation and pathfinder apps on the market, but is able to combine both outdoor and indoor navigation, allowing the user to find their way easily from room to room. The user is also able to easily locate nearby common amenities.
Much effort was put in to ensure that the interactive maps on the app are to scale, detailed and exact. The team digitised available NUS floor plans and conducted ground surveys to enrich the data. Additionally, a group of undergraduate interns were hired over their term break to survey the campus and verify information against the floor plans, plot common walking paths and map various amenities and facilities including vending machines, toilets, AED machines and ATMs.
"As part of our smart campus vision, the NUS Maps app is our first step towards a wider suite of digital concierge services. In this first version, the app offers basic route details to help users navigate from room-to-room to any location on campus. In subsequent updates, we intend to add suggestions to alternative routes, provide more navigation options and also integrate real-time shuttle bus information to enhance the user experience,” said NUS Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Lawrence Wong, who co-leads the NUS Living Lab initiative.
Over the past few years, the team has been enhancing the campus infrastructure with sensors and more pervasive wireless connectivity which will enable additional services to be added to the app.
The team’s larger vision is to develop the app into one that can help students in their day to day life, for example, giving push notifications for upcoming lessons, where the lessons are held, which bus should be taken and when that bus is arriving.
The NUS Living Lab initiative is jointly led by Prof Wong and Professor Andrew Lim from NUS Industrial Systems and Engineering Management, and strongly supported by Professor Feng Chen-Chieh from NUS Geography and University Campus Infrastructure. This inter-faculty collaboration aims to turn NUS into a testbed for various new technologies.