Encouraging and fostering a culture of walking is key to several of the City of Vancouver, B.C.'s, long-range goals. Giving the city a "walking identity" supports its Healthy City Strategy and its goal to become the greenest city in the world by 2020. Applied Wayfinding designed the city's new pedestrian signage system, which will consisting of a network of more than 200+ map stands throughout the city. The first maps have been installed in downtown neighborhoods, including the West End, Coal Harbour, Gastown, and the Central Business District.
The heads-up maps are based on a live digital blueprint of the city and can be updated regularly to incorporate new development, destinations, infrastructure, and changes to transport and other services.
According to Jerry Dobrovolny, Director of Transportation for the City of Vancouver, residents are already pleased with the project. “Every trip starts and ends on foot,” said Dobrovolny. “Even in a city as walkable as Vancouver we sometimes need an extra excuse to get out and walk or bike to our destination. The improved and expanded wayfinding system helps residents and visitors make smarter transportation choices, and discover more of our city in the process."
He added that the way signage is part of the city's commitment to ensure that navigating is easy and enjoyable for pedestrians, "so that we can contribute to an inclusive, healthy, prosperous and livable future for Vancouver.”
Applied Wayfinding, based in London and with offices in Vancouver, New York, and Seoul, has a long track record of projects in Vancouver, including work for TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation authority, and the University of British Columbia. Applied’s founder, Tim Fendley, commented on the project: “We’ve enjoyed working in Vancouver for seven years now, starting with TransLink. It’s great to see a city that believes just putting signage in the ground isn’t enough, the signs have to be well thought out and properly designed.”
In a future of increasingly digital cities, the project has, according to Jerry Dobrovolny, “opened the door to exploring digital applications for our map in the future, as a way to provide more detailed, accurate and aesthetically pleasing city data.”
Applied used "living map" technology developed by sister company Living Map. The Living Map system creates a digital database map that automatically produces high-quality heads-up maps, with back-end editing tools. Applied is now exploring the use of the system for detailed print and online apps.
The data and design of Vancouver’s digital map are already being used by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association and Tourism Vancouver. They and other organizations are being encouraged to apply the data when printing their own maps of the city, in order to make wayfinding a coherent experience for all users.
A number of applications have already been created, including a downtown visitor map, self-guided downtown walking tour maps, local transit station walking maps, and a new pocket-sized bicycle route map and guide. Tourists will experience greater access, giving them a unique perspective that has the potential to catapult tourism.