Wayfinding / ENG   |

Visitor guidance at the Saudi Arabian Formula 1 Grand Prix: main challenges and solutions

For the second time, we have helped the visitors of the Saudi Arabian GP to move around the circuit by introducing the guidance function in the official app, developed by Y. This process has involved many challenges, as well as allowed us to explore new possibilities related to maps, navigation, and geolocation between the first release of the app in December 2021 and the second version in March 2022.

Although Situm’s geolocation is already present in several sectors and accumulates success stories in all of them, from shopping centres to large hotel resorts, hospitals and industrial centres, the Formula 1 Grand Prix sporting event presented its own specificities.

A large enclosure, with both indoor and outdoor areas, through which thousands of visitors have passed to enjoy the competition and the multiple activities it offers. This is what the Jeddah circuit is like, and here are the main issues we had to solve to provide the official app with the best navigation experience throughout a weekend of speed and adrenaline.

Large, detailed, and high-resolution maps for a more complete app

APP GP Arabia Saudi, mapa del circuito.

A large space, both interior and exterior, also means that the maps to be displayed are going to be huge. To such an extent that, if we wanted to faithfully represent the visual details of the venue, we needed to use excessively high resolutions. How to provide good map resolution in such a large and impressive area?

Situm has always provided traditional raster maps. However, map providers often impose limitations (direct or indirect) on the maximum resolution when rendering these types of maps. For example, Google Maps may “crash” if we try to superimpose a raster of more than 4096×4096 pixels over the base layer.

As a solution, we have decided to enhance our product with raster tiles. Tiles allow us to efficiently display high-resolution maps and a high level of detail in the plans that app users have access to. But we want to go further: we are exploring adopting vectorized formats such as GeoJSON MVT or IMDF.

React Native for high-precision indoor location

The Jeddah circuit not only offered a sports competition but dozens of extra activities: live shows, restaurant areas, contests, entertainment… All these events should also have a place in the app, which offers not only the schedule but also a search engine to find out where the next concert will take place, or simply how to get to the nearest services.

Again, the challenge was to achieve a pleasant experience, in this case with React Native. We used our React Native plugin for geolocation and navigation in addition to the Google Maps plugin for React Native. We have achieved near-native results through different optimizations, such as filtering POIs dynamically (for example, based on zoom level) so we don’t have to display them all at once. Good control of the render function lifecycle has also been key.

Navigation updates for the best user experience

Between launching the app back in December and the second round of Grand Prix competitions in March, the Situm team worked to improve the user experience in the app based on the feedback received after the first edition. First of all, we have worked on simplifying the plans for a cleaner, high-resolution display, thanks to the mentioned tiles.

In addition, we have also introduced other improvements concerning the navigation feature:

  • A widget that includes useful options during the guidance: information about the POI by clicking on its icon and the option to start/stop navigation to the POI.
  • Checking the distance and the estimated time of the route.
  • Automated route recalculation in case of detours.
  • Toggle to switch between the Circuit and Navigation screens.

Finally, we also realized that users were not using the POI search bar because… they didn’t know what to search for! Instead, the app update for March involved implementing filters by category to display the POIs that interest the user at a glance.

In summary, these changes introduced have allowed for a more pleasant experience in usability and greater control of the space thanks to the information provided.

This process has been useful for us to help users move around the circuit through geolocation, routes, and maps. And, along the way, we have also advanced our product.

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