Apps for City Wayfinding

Will apps change the future of city wayfinding?

Apps for City Wayfinding

Orientation and navigation in a unknown city can be hard, can these wayfinding apps help you along?

Exploring unknown cities for business or pleasure, for me, is always a joyful experience, walking around and getting into the city will enlighten your vision and makes you connect to the culture. Visiting the beautiful and exciting elements a city has to offer makes your trip an unforgettable visit. Getting information on how to get around in a city is essential for easy orientation and navigation.

Actually one of the most important factors that you will remember after visiting a city is how did you get around.

What items did you use to navigate through a city? How did public transport interacts with the navigation possibilities that you have? What was your feeling and with the items you used to navigate and did you find your way? Where did you get your information from and was it sufficient enough?

All of these questions make or break a your vision on city exploration.

Exploring a unknown city

When visiting a city there are different ways you can get there and after arriving you need to know where you are in the spatial environment in order to locate yourself and make decisions on where to go next. The provided information at that point of entry is critical for easy city exploration, if the provided information is insufficient, you might turn the wrong way and not finding the locations you want or need to visit. Going the wrong way increases feelings of disorientation, distraction and anxiety. The feeling that you are loosing time on exploring a city trip is one of the worst psychological emotions you experience.

City information

When visiting a new city is can be useful to check the cities website and obtain information about:

  • Public transport and available connections between the various transportation services
  • Getting a map of the city and locate your hotel, maybe even plan a trip from your city point to entry to the hotel
  • Maybe plan your trip via google maps and mark all the points your want to visit
  • Opening hours of the facilities you want to visit
  • I’m that kind of guy that doesn’t do any of the suggested items as described above… I just try to explore the city using my senses and trying to find where I need to go next. Sometimes this is a great and joyful experience, sometimes it causes disorientation and arguments with the people I travel with at that time.

Orientation and navigation in an unknown city

When using your senses to guide yourself in a unknown environment you need eye-level directional information and possibly a map to locate and navigate through the city. City often uses directional signs on streets to point you in the right direction and sometimes information panels are providing you with an orientation overview. In future posts I will go deeper into pedestrian navigation and city wayfinding. Other forms of navigation is through a mobile phone powered with for instance Google Maps or specific applications enhanced to bring you information about the city you want to visit.

City marketing and visitors information

As city marketing is the nr. 1 way of promoting your city, providing information to the visitors is also part of the branding strategy. Currently many cities worldwide are producing mobile applications to improve the visitors experience and this will make it easier to navigate through a city. I have compiled a list of iPhone applications which will let you navigation through a city using your own personal map.