(Updated October 11, 2022)
A dynamic mapping solution is often combined with an indoor positioning system (IPS) as it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. However, there are a few things to consider when choosing your IPS provider.
That’s why we’ve made a list of the main advantages and disadvantages of IPS, so it’s easier for you to make the right decision.
#1 Easier for users
Indoor wayfinding becomes even easier with an indoor positioning system as users don’t have to type in their current position when navigating from point A to point B. Likewise, they don’t have to worry about counting doors, turns, or the like as they can see their real time position on the map (blue dot) as they move through the building.
#2 Improved UX
Another advantage of IPS is the improved user experience. Besides making it easier for users to navigate, indoor positioning system ensures a user experience à la Google Maps, which users already know and love.
With an indoor positioning system you also have the possibility of heat mapping, so you can see how people move around your venue. This allows you to gain important insights on what’s good about your layout and what could be improved to increase sales at merchandise stalls, minimize wait times at food and drink vendors, or differentiate stand pricing at conventions.
#4 Location-based marketing
The combination of indoor navigation and indoor positioning also gives you the benefits of location-based marketing. Not only does this allow you to create a more personalized experience (think of sending special offers when shoppers are stopping at the pasta aisle or use the information you have on stadium visitors, for instance from ticket sales, to send a personalized welcoming messages), it also allows you to turn your investment into a lucrative business. By offering exhibitors, sponsors, or partners the option to buy marketing opportunities through push notifications, you’ll make your venue more interesting and potentially increase your ROI.
#1 An investment
Speaking of ROI, there’s no doubt that indoor positioning is an investment. First off all, it’s a subscription and not a one-off payment, and second of all, it’s time consuming to set up. Setting up an indoor positioning system usually means deploying Bluetooth beacons, but it also means fingerprinting your venue, which is a time consuming task. Just to give you an idea of the task, buildings need at least 1 beacon per 200 m2 in average depending on the physics of the building as well as the accuracy needed.
Another disadvantage of IPS is the maintenance. The beacons themselves don’t require other maintenance than a new battery once in a while, and the best BLE beacons actually run five to eight years before their batteries need to be changed. However, if you have 500 beacons, changing the batteries may take a while. Add to that the work it requires to add more beacons if your venue expands.
#3 Finding the right provider
Indoor positioning is expensive so it’s important to find the provider that matches your needs the best. How accurate do you need the positioning to be? It’s a given you want a reliable solution, but if you’re guiding travelers around your airport, you don’t need the same accuracy as if you’re guiding people to the right book at a library or shoppers to the item on the shelf. You also need to think about the power consumption or if you need additional features like analytics, offline positioning, etc.
#4 Bad positioning is worse than no indoor positioning
The indoor position market is a confusing market with a lot of different players who are all claiming to provide accurate indoor positioning, but you shouldn’t just take their word for it. Our advice is to go with a provider that has a good track record, because bad positioning is actually worse than no positioning. Say for instance you’re trying to find a meeting room in a large office building. A good indoor positioning system will show you your exact position, so you can easily navigate to the room, but a bad positioning system may think you’re on the 2nd floor instead for the 3rd. This means that the wayfinding solution will provide you with the wrong directions and you’ll be late for your meeting.
If you want to know more about indoor positioning, check out the blogs, "Indoor positioning systems - Complete guide" and "Three ways indoor positioning technologies take your convention center to the next level".