Whether you call it BIM, Wayfinding, Facility Planning, Indoor Routing, 6D, Macro, Floor Planning, or Mall Mapping; Interest in Indoor Mapping is on the rise. Even Esri has been teasing about their ArcGIS Indoors product for almost a year now. Too bad the website is a glorified “Comming Soon” billboard. Here is an actual video of the product.

Yes, yes we are all impressed with the tired graphics and new words

It might seem like the new thing, it might seem like just another fad. It is, really, but it’s not as well. Everything we see on a larger scale (or smaller, if you understand ratio map scaling) has been pretty much mapped and/or there are TONS of companies with a good system and processes to do it.

Indoor Mapping may be the ‘new thing’, but it actually IS the obvious next phase, just not new. The crossover from GIS utilities outside the building was literally a wall, or door away from utilities inside the building. If we can zoom down to a room or closer, there’s no reason we can’t map out pipes within a wall.

Nothing New.

Sanborn Firemap

Yes, every Schoolchild knows floorplans are used for fire or tornado drills. In fact Building Information Management (BIM) predates the 20th century. The Sanborn Map Company used to create fire insurance maps that indicated location of water pipes, hose houses and even what type of material the building was created from. Here is a Legend. It was quite the collection of building footprints and geographic information. Now archived with the library of congress, we can all appreciate it for historical research and use.

Fast forward about 150 years and the question is less concerned with fire safety (thought that is definitely still a part), rather more about utility within the wall and inventory of assets hanging on the wall.

Conceptually, we want a GIS for each floor and the space in-between: Water meter to faucet – Electrical box to lightswitch – Sewer cleanout to … well, you get the idea. Traditionally this has always been done in CAD with huge paper drawing sets rolled out on whatever workspace is available. Now, commonly all those sheets are on a iPad. Easier to handle but engineers I know still like to feel the paper. Even this Bentley YouTube Video even shows a frustrated Project manager fighting with paper drawings. Poor Guy.

It Draws as you Walk.

What if you don’t have a nice Revit model of your building? Well, Good luck. There is a tool that will assist you in building one; you know, if you have an extra $40K or so. I got to play with a Zeb-revo a little last Fall these things are amazing. I don’t know what the actual term is, I call it: Active data capture. With the sensor attached to the phone, you can actually watch the point cloud get created. The user starts at a location, walks around, then returns to that Point of Beginning. https://geoslam.com/zeb-horizon It’s amazing.


There’s post processing work to be done and some rendering, and options for video and photo capture for skinning your render, but you get the idea. The data collection is wildly different than even 3 years ago. It can be done by one person and a build can be collected in just about the time it takes to walk through. The result is a kind of BIM Basemap or Planimetric layer. Then you have to do the work of actually mapping the utilities that are within the wall.

All this to say, Indoor Mapping is the next generation location mapping task to be tackled, dominated and disseminated to the masses for us geogeeks. After that we go to Mars. Promise?

Just my new from the corn.