In years past, a college student might see a campus map as a throwaway part of a welcome packet. Now, thanks to technology, campus maps could be considered a big asset for students and faculty.
At the University of Oregon, the motto might as well be “there’s a map for that.” UO’s Campus GIS and Mapping Program has turned massive collections of university data into interactive maps for students and faculty, an article on their website reports.
“Many groups on campus have important data,” says the program’s director Ken Kato in the article. “Our job is to figure out how to tell a story with it.”
Such “story maps” highlight a range of information useful to the campus community, from current construction projects to locations of all-gender restrooms, UO reports. Just as Google Maps can tell you about accidents and traffic in real time, Kato’s team used their map during an ice storm last winter to provide updates on unsafe campus areas.
“They are true innovators who can take campus data and make it spatial and usable for students, faculty and staff,” says Andre Le Duc, UO’s associate vice president for safety and risk services, in the article. “Like the winter hazard map they developed during our last snow and ice storm — they linked data from the field on the evolving situation to the campus map to provide the campus community with real-time information on hazards.”
UO reports that even the standard campus map — without any customization — has been immensely helpful in boosting security and creating accessibility. Users of the map can use it to identify paths that are lit at night, locate emergency call boxes and even outline a wheelchair-accessible route.
Virtual maps can be useful to students before they even arrive at campus. For Texas A&M University, a 3D map with a built-in tour is the perfect solution for students who may not be able to afford to travel.
“Even in Texas there are kids who don’t have the means to visit our campus. When people go on campus tours, they’re going to apply,” says Michael Green, a graphic designer at Texas A&M, in an article on EdSurge.
Green worked with CampusBird, a virtual map and campus tour platform, to create 3D renderings of buildings that can be annotated with historical details and office hours, EdSurge reports.
Green says in the article that they used the maps during move-in day to help students in each individual dorm locate things like recycling and unloading stations.
Maryville College in Tennessee has also used 3D maps to get prospective students interested in its campus.
“For students who have never set foot on our campus, this map will answer some of their questions in the short-term but also motivate them to schedule a real, in-person tour,” says Maryville president Tom Bogart in an article.
Maryville also finds the map tool to be useful to campus visitors, like visiting athletic fans.