Singapore Polytechnic Library is situated in two buildings with a total of 7 floors which are accessible to our users. Users entering the library at any of its two entrances are not able to tell at a glance which reading areas are likely to have more seats available.
Smart E-directory System
The Smart E-directory system was created with the aim of helping users easily find an available space in the library to study. The two key supporting features in the E-directory are Pathfinding and an Occupancy Heatmap.
The Pathfinding feature uses an Artificial Intelligence method called Dijkstra’s algorithm, which is commonly used in video games. When the user selects a particular library space on the E-directory, the Pathfinding feature will compute the shortest path from the user’s location to the space selected. The program will then draw a visual path on the E-directory system to indicate the direction.
The Occupancy Heatmap provides information on the number of people in an area using wireless analytics with data obtained from wireless access points installed on various floors. Besides providing wireless network connection, access points keep track of the number of mobile devices connected. The number of people in an area is inferred using the number of connected mobile devices. Adding all the data from various access points gives an overall occupancy rate. The E-directory translates this information visually and provides an up-to-date crowd condition of all the floors in the library.
Two units of the smart E-directory are placed near each of the two library entrances. With the E-directory, users have been using it as a self-guided service to locate rooms and spaces on their own without needing to ask for directions from library staff. During peak times like lunch hour or exam periods, users also depend on the E-directory to determine crowd conditions on each floor to identify available space to use.
Developing the Smart E-directory
On the journey to pilot the Smart E-directory in SP Library, we explored many different products in the market, both free and paid. However, after much evaluation, we were constrained by the features that did not meet our needs and the price point. Hence, we had the idea of developing the E-directory in-house.
The first prototype was created using a 2D game engine called Construct 2, an HTML5-based 2D game editor aimed primarily for non-programmers. The first prototype was a simple E-directory where the user can only select the floor and view the overall map of the floor.
As there are limitations to Construct 2, we explored other technologies, hence E-directory Version 2 was born. In Version 2, we engaged a student from the School of Computing to co-develop the system. The project which was programmed in C# took around 4 months from conception to integration of the Occupancy Heatmap and Pathfinding features into the E-directory system.
This project was first presented as a poster at the 2019 LAS Conference.
Louis Goh (Lead Technical Executive, FabLab, Singapore Polytechnic)
Andy Lim (Lead Executive, Library, Singapore Polytechnic)