Smart London digital wayfinding
Maynard are thrilled to be winners of the Smart London District Challenge competition. The objective for this challenge was to generate smart wayfinding innovations that help London’s residents, visitors, businesses and developers better connect with their surroundings both physically and digitally.
Maynard are thrilled to be winners of the Smart London District Challenge competition for our unique take on Digital Wayfinding.
The competition was launched as part of the Mayor of London’s 2020 vision for a “smart city” in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainability and EIT digital (European Institute of Innovation and Technology).
Four Smart London Districts were identified: Croydon, Elephant and Castle, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Imperial West. Each district had its own unique characteristics and challenges, and had previously identified that navigation and wayfinding was a priority area in which they were seeking solutions.
Our design team selected the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP) as the case study in which to develop our concept. We identified that a key challenge to successful wayfinding across this district is the ongoing phased regeneration that has created a mixture of temporary and permanent spaces. This highlighted the requirement for a flexible and responsive system that adapts and develops with the site and its diverse range of visitors.
Maynard’s winning concept addresses both physical and digital wayfinding in a holistic and human scale manner.
In an ever-increasing digital and ‘app’ dominated environment, we observed that people still seek to engage with their surroundings in a physical and almost tactile manner. The way we interact with our environment is based on our sensory capabilities and, in many instances, our reliance on tools such as mobile applications can detract us from truly engaging with our surroundings.
Maynard responded to this need for physical participation with the design of an integrated product and digital platform that provides an inclusive and socially engaging user experience. The physical and digital wayfinding elements can work in isolation, but are best experienced when used in parallel as a seamless coordinated system.
Physicality is provided in the form of signage milestones, with inspiration taken from the ‘borne kilometrique’ markers of France. These physical markers are fitted with low energy beacons and e-ink displays to communicate live, real-time information across the site.
This dynamic communication channel provides much more than wayfinding content. It allows engagement opportunities for the site’s operator and local businesses, acting as a platform to share daily news, events and social media in a non-intrusive yet visible format. In addition to sharing and communicating information, these markers can also be used to collect valuable insight on visitors and how the park is being used, which in turn can be used to inform operational or management decisions, for example during major event scenarios such as the recent Rugby World Cup.
The digital element is provided via a ‘Smart Wayfinding’ app. This is designed to assist the user in navigating an environment that is constantly changing and evolving. The app utilises data from user’s GPS and WiFi signals to enhance the user’s experience and enable them to connect with their surroundings.
The communication platform between the digital wayfinding app and the physical signage milestones provides a unique tool enabling the site operator to engage with the visitor on a more personal level.
Although developed with the QEOP in mind, the general principle of seamlessly combining physical and digital wayfinding elements to communicate and gather useful information is very much applicable to other environments. This includes transport, education, events, retail and commercial. USP benefits are:
- Integrated product and digital platform
- Inclusive and socially engaging user experience
- Intelligent and responsive live information
- Personalised content and push notifications
- Highly adaptable and mobile products
- Sustainable materials and low energy technologies
- Realtime data capture and movement analytics
- Customer insight and engagement opportunities
Maynard are progressing with our Smart Wayfinding concept and are currently seeking to engage companies interested in testing a pilot scheme.