The Feds Board of Directors approved the purchase of three map kiosks to help students find their way around the SLC in their Oct 7 meeting.
“The whole idea started in Winter 2014 term, an idea that was brought in through the marketing department,” said Ben Balfour, Feds VP of finance.
The purpose of the maps is to help students locate and make better use of the services and events available to them in the SLC.
“When we look at the Federation of Students and people maybe not understanding it fully, this is one of the ways, a very tangible, in your face way, that we can show people this is how you can be involved. This is where you can go to get this information,” Balfour said.
“We took it to the Student Life Endowment Fund (SLEF)… where a pitch was made and … they approved funding for one of these kiosks to a total of $13,400.
“There’s been a few different changes in terms of the actual unit … we’ve upgraded the unit, we’ve upgraded the software from what we were originally looking at. We’ve also made the decision that having more than one unit is going to be the best way to go about it,” Balfour said.
After these alterations to the plan, the project has been budgeted at $44,183: $13,400 from SLEF and $30,783 from Feds.
“Even though it seems like just an overblown map, it’s so much more in that it makes what we’re doing very tangible… we want to make sure students know what services are provided.
“We’re going to have three of them on the main floor, there’s going to be information on all the different services and all the different locations. It’s going to provide us with a marketing tool for our events. It’s also not a very accessible building so [it will help] people with [accessibility] needs,” Balfour said.
Feds hopes that the kiosks will both educate students on the events happening in the SLC and the services offered and give students some anonymity regarding which services they choose to use.
“If somebody wanting to use the Women’s Centre or Glow Centre [doesn’t] really want to identify that they’re using that service to other people, instead of having to ask the Turnkey or one of the Feds staff, they can use the MappedIn console,” Balfour said.
The kiosks come from a local company called MappedIn which was founded by three UW students. The kiosks have several features outside of simply helping students find their way around the building.
“The main things are way-finding, [and] information about the different services like food specials at the Bomber. It will be linked to our event calendar as well, so you’ll be able to find out what’s going on where.
“It comes with an app where if you’re at the console you can download the app and then search for that room on your phone and it will then lead you right there,” Balfour said.
Balfour said that he hopes the kiosks will help to modernize the SLC: “It’s a great step in the right direction to bring us up to pace… UW is an innovative university… when you look at this building it’s not necessarily up to speed… this is going to give us a big boost in terms of the perception students have when they walk into the building.”
The modernization of the SLC is something that has been talked about frequently since Feds acquired control of the building February 2014.
“We’ve been working for a while now on digital signage… in my platform, I talk about improving or increasing the amount of electrical outlets… we’ll be approaching SLEF to get new tables that have electrical outlets built into them,” Balfour said.
Balfour expressed his enthusiasm for the project saying: “It will really make the SLC a more friendly place for people that don’t know it that well… it’s going to be a great project.”