University of Oulu, 2019

Lost at campus? Download this app!

Navigating the campus can prove difficult for visitors, students and staff alike. Finding one’s way around the maze-like campus is made easier by a new mobile app, the Oulu Campus Navigator.

The app is free to download to Android and iOS mobile phones from the respective app stores. The app shows the user’s location on a map, knows the locations of all rooms and can give directions to the desired destination on the Linnanmaa campus.

The Linnanmaa campus at the University of Oulu amounts to over 130,000 m² of floor area. This means that a few dozen White Houses could fit inside the university. How does the app work in practice? We interviewed Project Manager Harri Kaikkonen, who helped develop the app.

Harri Kaikkonen, how does the app know the user’s location?

“The phone receives signals from Bluetooth beacons installed along corridors on the campus. The app locates the user’s location on campus based on these signals in the same way as GPS positioning works outdoors.”

What are these beacons exactly?

“The beacons are Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transmitters, and 1,200 of them have been installed all over the Linnanmaa campus. ‘Beacon’ is an apt term in that the device does not receive any data or forward it. The purpose of these devices is to broadcast their identifier to the app.”

So it is not possible to track an individual user?

“The location of individual users is not tracked in any way. The app does not require login and does not track the user’s location when it is closed. The BLE beacons do not know anything about the user, and they do not collect any data or forward it anywhere.”

Is the app also available for the Kontinkangas campus?

“We will expand the app’s use to Kontinkangas as soon as possible, but for the time being it only works in Linnanmaa. Once the renovation of the Oulu UAS premises is completed, the location service will be expanded there, too.”

How was the project carried out?

“There is great ICT expertise in Oulu, so it is natural to also use new digital services at campuses. People have wanted indoor positioning at our labyrinthine campuses for a long time now, and once positioning technologies matured, IT Administration decided to start implementing a positioning system and an associated mobile app. The purchase of the positioning system is connected to the Yhteiskampus (Shared Campus) project, which is funded partly by the Council of Oulu Region and to which University Properties of Finland Ltd (SYK) and Oulu University of Applied Sciences have also contributed.”

What else could positioning be used for in the future?

“In the future, positioning and the app’s map base can be used as a platform for other services and in research. The more interactive campus map base and navigation in facilities will also be expanded to the information screens by campus entrances.”

Oulu Campus Navigator in Play Store and App Store

Last updated: 29.10.2020