Contribute > ideas > GPS App for Central Lbrary

In a recent PEW sponsored research on Libraries, considerable interest was expressed in "cell GPS apps to navigate library" and this would be particularly useful for the central library along with "cell app to use to access library services."

bneedham :: October 29, 2016 - 4:34pm

Some design ideas: I assume GPS here refers to some indoor location technology, rather than literally GPS, which doesn't work well indoors. I imagine the basic functionality would be "get me from where I am to the room, stacks, or book I'm interested in". The tricky part is answering the question of "where am I?" One technology: QR-Codes or barcodes. Using this location tech, the library would place visible stickers all over the library. Each sticker would contain a unique code. The library visitor would Open the library navigation app, choose a destination, scan a code near them, and the app would provide the navigation info. The problem with QR-Codes or barcodes is that they can be hard to scan: the lighting and alignment needs to be just right. On the plus side, they're very inexpensive and easy to replace. Another technology: Physical Web beacons (see Using Physical Web beacons, the library would install a separate beacon in each room of the library (~$5/beacon); each beacon would transmit a different URL. The library visitor could Open their phone's browser, scan for beacons, and pick the nearest one. That would take their browser to a web app that understands the beacon's location. The visitor would then choose where they want to go, and voila. The big plus of Physical Web beacons is that they are (I believe) supported in all recent Android phones, and I believe there's an install for iPhones as well. Another plus is that the navigation app would be a web app; the library visitor wouldn't need to install a library navigation app. Another plus is that the beacons could be installed out of reach of library patrons so they aren't tampered with. The minus side vs. QR-Codes is that beacons cost ~$5 or so per beacon, and need to be updated (batteries replaced) about every year. There are *lots* of indoor location technologies; I've listed my two current favorites here.