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Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
September 10, 2008
DeKalb, Ill. — A virtual trip through the Northern Illinois University campus has never been easier.
NIU’s award-winning interactive Campus Web Map (www.webmap.niu.edu) has been upgraded this fall with a host of new features. Those features allow users to do everything from locating Huskie Bucks food establishments in DeKalb and Sycamore to finding copiers, printers and vending machines on campus.
Students can even find their seats on the east side of Huskie Stadium, and upgrades planned for later this fall will provide field views from the seating sections.
The map is now compatible with both Windows and Mac formats, as well as with multiple browsers, including Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome. Additionally, the site has improved its features for visitors with disabilities.
The GPS-powered Campus Web Map attracts about 200 unique visitors daily. It was originally launched in 2004 and later was cited with a “best practices award” in an international competition sponsored by Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions, which provides software for the NIU mapping system.
“We think the map is unique in its level of detail, accuracy, quality and helpfulness,” said NIU research scientist Phil Young. He and research associate Rick Schwantes in the Department of Geography's Advanced Geospatial Laboratory produce the map with assistance from students.
“We’re constantly working to improve it, and we're anxious to hear feedback and suggestions,” Young said. Comments can be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As in the past, the map enables users to quickly identify buildings, bus stops, bus routes, bicycle racks, construction zones, parking lots by permit type, handicapped-accessible parking areas and even points of interest. Click on a building and its picture pops up.
A map user also can highlight, zoom to and print out a custom map of a specific area on campus. It's also easy to pan across campus, find latitude-longitude coordinates for a given point, or measure distances between two locations and estimate walking time. A query option enables searches for specific offices, departments, buildings, colleges or laboratories equipped with information technology services.
Some of the new features also include:
Two new mapping projects also are in the works.
Young said the mapping team is working with Greg Long, professor in the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders, on a new map feature that will identify, rate and provide photos of all handicapped-accessible entrances and exits on campus.
The team also is working with Gaylen Kapperman, the longtime head of the NIU College of Education’s Programs in Vision, on a portable GPS-powered system equipped with audio components that will help people with visual impairments navigate the NIU campus.