Marketing a “Yet to Open” University Via Online Maps

The University in question is King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) which will open in Saudi Arabia in September 2009.

To get the word and nature of the campus out, the KAUST has launched, per an e-mail to me from a PR rep “an immersive and cutting edge digital map, highlighting everything from residential flats, lab and research facilities, sustainability features, community services, recreational facilities, flyover video and more.”

According to the e-mail, the map “is among the very first Web mashup applications to combine Adobe Flash, Google Maps, custom overlays and English and Arabic text.” The other big draw for both the university and the map is a focus on “a sustainable campus and community” via “the six sustainability focus areas (site planning, water conversation, etc.)  and segments features by category: University, Residential Districts and Community Services.”

The underlying technology includes, per my PR source, his comments included:

- Flash CS3/Actionscript 3 and the AFComponents Umap API (which ties into Google Maps for phase I, and Microsoft Virtual Earth for phase II) – to code, animate, and create the maps functionality
- The Arabic text feature was a custom class built to extend Flash to handle the RTL text
- MapInfo – to create and place the custom tiles
- XML data parsed from a SQL Server database
- Admin tool created in .NET 2.0 (very nice feature!)
- All of the images and renderings were created by HOK and In Kingdom (HOK used 3D Studio Max to create the building renderings and fly overs)

It’s quite slick. My only disappointment: when you change from map to satellite view, the scale of the map changes, so you can easily “swap” between the map and imagery view of the same extents.

Published Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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