Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Airport Slippy Maps

Creating interactive indoor maps isn't easy. One major problem is that architects like to design buildings with more than one level. This creates difficulties for cartographers. The traditional overhead two-dimensional representation of a geographical area in maps works very well when you only have one level to map. Introduce more than one level and the cartographer has a problem.

London's Heathrow airport's interactive map is a very well designed interactive map which manages to cope very well with buildings which contain more than one floor. When zoomed out the Heathrow Hubmap presents a view of the airport's five terminals and transport links. Zoom in on any of the terminals and the map tiles immediately switch to present a floor-plan view.

The floor-plan shows the location of shops, toilets and lounges etc. The map overcomes the problem of creating too much visual noise by highlighting distinct zones. For example, if you select the Departure Lounge on the airport map then the Check-in area is immediately muted on the map. Alternatively if you click on the Check-in area then the Departure Lounge area is muted on the map.

Links to the floor-plans for the different floors in each terminal immediately appear on the left-hand side of the map when you zoom-in on a terminal. To view a floor's map you therefore simply need to select the relevant button from the level menu.

The whole map is tied together with a logical menu system which allows you to search the map by terminal and by transport links, parking and departures. The map also includes a powerful search function which allows you to search by keyword or category, such as shops, hotels, check-in zones, departure gates etc.

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