You have probably seen one of the hundreds of online stories related to the new capability of Google Maps 6.0 for Android to show floor plans for the insides of buildings. Finally!
I mean, think about it. Our buildings represent our largest investments - larger than all the stock and bond markets in the world combined. Faciliites costs are the second largest expense for most organizations right behind personnel costs. We spend 85% of our time inside buildings. If the purpose of maps is to describe the things in the world that are most important to us and our relationship to them, then it is pretty obvious to me that our maps should include the insides of our buildings. And from now on it is pretty clear that they will.
The initial capabilities of Google Maps 6.0 for Android are pretty limited, and the data more so. There are very few launch partners, so the liklihood that you will find this all that useful immediately are not all that great. But when Street View first launched it was pretty limited as well. Today, most of the planet has street view data available for it.
There are still a lot of questions. How about security for example? What kinds of information are appropriate to show on floor plans and what are not? How good will the navigation be? How about all those places where there are just not very good floor plans available? How will we establish a consistent cartography for building interiors?
What is certain is that we will now expect our maps to follow us inside buildings and that is a very good thing in my opinion.