Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs


News Release

Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-3635

January 12, 2004

Click and you're virtually there

New interactive Campus Web Map gives lay of the land--and then some

DeKalb, Ill.--Northern Illinois University is unveiling its interactive Campus Web Map, a sophisticated tool that allows users to create custom maps and quickly locate campus features--from buildings to bicycle racks.

Produced by the Department of Geography's Advanced Geospatial Laboratory (see related story) as a service to the NIU community, the Campus Web Map can be accessed from the NIU Home Page or directly at www.webmap.niu.edu.

"This is one of the most advanced Web-based campus maps in the country," said Phil Young, a research scientist in the Department of Geography. Young spent 11 months leading the mapping initiative. His project team included research associate Rick Schwantes and NIU students Martin Arnold and Catherine Schwantes.

"Map users virtually have the campus at their fingertips," Young said. "We think the map will be an incredibly useful resource for faculty, students and visitors to campus."

The map enables users to quickly identify buildings, bus stops, bus routes, 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 tool bar across the top of the Web site provides a variety of other useful functions. A map user 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.

"The Campus Web Map brings a dynamic and interactive element to the maps of the NIU campus," said Andrew Krmenec, geography chair. "It incorporates a wealth of information that makes our big campus a more livable place."

The map is a work in progress, so new features will be added over time. By the spring, the Campus Web Map will be linked to course registration so that students can print out maps highlighting the locations of their classes.

"New students often come to campus on the first day of a semester not knowing exactly where their classrooms are located," said Don Larson, university registrar and executive director of Enrollment Services. "We've wanted to provide them with a map such as this for a long time."

Larson said he also hopes to use the Campus Web Map to help students identify distance conflicts. "This is a little more complicated, but we want to be able to automatically alert students during registration to situations where the estimated walking time between two classes exceeds 10 minutes," he said.

Vice Provost Gip Seaver said faculty and students should familiarize themselves with the capabilities of the Campus Web Map. "This is all about making campus more student-friendly, more faculty-friendly and more visitor-friendly," Seaver said. "We anticipate that the map will be exceedingly popular."

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