By now, all of us are pretty familiar with outdoor wayfinding solutions like Google Maps. And, in fact, many of us use it to find the fastest, easiest route to get to our destination, whether driving, walking or using public transport. Not only do wayfinding solutions make life easier but they also make travel more efficient and greener.

But what happens when people actually enter places like shopping centres, hospitals or office buildings? Google Maps isn’t going to take you to the right shop, department or office door. It’s easy to get lost and confused, wasting time, energy and creating unnecessary crowds.

In fact, indoor wayfinding can offer a range of benefits, from increasing sustainability to improving efficiency. Here are just six ways in which indoor wayfinding can help shopping centres, hospitals and offices be greener:

1.Reducing pollution in car parks

Looking for an available car parking space can take several minutes. It’s a fairly minor inconvenience that most of us are used to, though nonetheless frustrating. But when hundreds of people every day spend several minutes each looking for a space, that totals up to many hours spent unnecessarily driving around. Multiply that by the number of car parks in the world and this small inconvenience becomes a major source of car pollution.

Indoor wayfinding could be incredibly useful in this situation ─ identifying empty spaces and directing drivers directly to available spaces. Less frustration for drivers and thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions saved every year! 

2. Minimising missed appointments

Indoor wayfinding can also help reduce missed appointments. If someone heading for an appointment can easily find a parking space and locate the exact area of the office or hospital they need to go to, there would be far fewer missed or late appointments.

Not only would this help make things more efficient but it would also minimise traffic (and therefore emissions) caused by unnecessary repeat visits. Around 10% of hospital appointments are missed, according to figures from the Health Department, totalling thousands of repeat visits every year. Missing a meeting or being late due to getting lost within a large office building is frustrating at best and, at worst, can lose businesses money. Ensuring that clients can find their way effectively to your office means more effective and efficient use of meeting time and far less stress.

3. Helping manage the impact of Covid

In addition to the immediate social and environmental benefits offered by indoor wayfinding, it can also help with the implications of Covid and other future pandemics. Indoor wayfinding allows retail spaces, hospitals and offices to ensure that people are directed the right way to maximise social distance and minimise the use of certain areas.

Wayfinding apps, like BuzzStreets, also provide user information which can be very helpful in terms of tracking where people have been. Cleaning can be focused on areas that are used more frequently, or can be skipped in areas that haven’t been used, and hand sanitiser points can be set up in the highest traffic areas.

4. Improving efficiency of utilities

Data on where users have been and identifying high and low traffic areas can also make things like lighting and heating more efficient. If nobody visits a part of a retail service area, hospital or office after 5pm, for example, then the lighting can be switched off and the heating reduced.

Currently, that information is difficult to reliably collect or analyse, leading to guess work, at best. With information gathered by an indoor wayfinding app, you have reliable information on which to base these decisions that could help save money and the environment.

5. Keeping track of equipment

As well as keeping track of where and when people move around, some indoor wayfinding systems (for example, BuzzStreets) can also track the location of equipment. With a clear idea of where the equipment is and how to get there, you can navigate straight to the item you need rather than hunting for it, thereby saving time, energy and unnecessary travel.

Keeping track of equipment also eliminates the need to buy duplicates of things you can’t find, reducing waste and saving money. You always know exactly what you have and where it is kept, making storage and transport far more efficient.

6. Using assets more efficiently

In addition to keeping track of inventory, wayfinding can also ensure that assets are where you need them when you need them the most. You may always need an asset in a specific ward / office on a specific day. Having staff drive around trying to locate the item and moving it back and forth wastes time and energy as well as petrol.

Small efficiencies can quickly add up and are even more apparent when the assets need to move between cities. If a specialist device is regularly used in Manchester but never in Brighton over the Christmas period, for example, then it can be moved once to Manchester and left until the New Year. This can avoid both unnecessary transport and unnecessary duplication of assets through better planning.

The application of this approach is almost endless. Food from a quiet cafe could be move to a busier cafe at different times, for example, minimising food waste and maximising profits. Or office space that is rarely used during the summer could be sublet to other businesses, helping reduce overheads while maximising space usage.

On the surface of it, indoor wayfinding is a useful addition to any retail space, hospital or office ─ helping people move around more efficiently and effectively. Those small moments of frustration at getting lost or struggling to find what you need can be virtually eliminated.

However, when considered creatively, the applications of indoor wayfinding have a wide variety of benefits to both businesses and healthcare facilities and customers, patients or staff. Not only can it improve efficiency, thereby reducing wastage, but it also provides a wealth if information that can be used to model and predict behaviour. With this information, hospitals and businesses can make savings that benefit both budgets and the environment.

Want to learn more about BuzzStreets and how it can benefit your organisation? Our experts are always ready to assist and answer any questions your might have.