Great techspectations: can we find a way?

I have lived and worked in Ann Arbor for 3 years now and have made many trips to Lansing and Detroit for meetings and events. In Lansing I go to about 5 different locations: my car is almost on auto pilot. I have been to various locations in downtown Detroit and the surrounding suburbs. What would I do without the GPS technology we all take for granted?

I have a built-in navigation system in my car, but you probably have the same ability with a map app on your smart phone. My daughter warns me though, to not depend on GPS when you are down to the last mile; “Use your eyes,” she says. That’s what I do when I’m going to the Ren Center in downtown Detroit. My biggest concern then is that I will be in the wrong lane and end up taking the tunnel to Windsor, Canada. You can’t just do a U-turn on the other side; you need your passport with you. Unless I carry my passport in my car, it would be a major delay.  I have heard about people who missed events by an hour just by making that mistake.

And there is a lot of road construction with detours on my way out of Detroit these days. I must rely on my GPS to adjust my route and use my eyes to keep track of the detour signs.

Do you remember those thick spiral-bound books of maps for a metro area?  You needed a magnifying glass to read it. You also needed a co-pilot in the passenger seat. A real challenge if driving alone at night!

I remember when we stuck add-on Garmin devices to our inside windshield or tried to somehow balance them on the console.

I still sometimes use the online Mapquest or Google Maps service to print out the directions in advance; sometimes I want the big picture visual with me.

But the convenience of a built-in navigation system with voice directions in my 2008 car is far better. I rely on it whenever I’m headed someplace new.

But what about when you are inside a large building complex?  Wayfinding in hospitals is a challenge for both patients and staff, especially in large academic medical centers with old and new buildings connected on a sprawling campus. Continue reading