Transport routing during emergencies

Transport routing algorithms have a silent yet vast impact on transport behaviour. Now, with a few taps on a smartphone or clicks on a computer one can find the fastest path between A and B. With the ‘real time’ routing options of services like Google Maps, Graphhopper and the Open Source CycleStreets.net, it’s even possible to receive instructions during the journey. As I discovered during a cycle ride from Lulow to Hereford, this voice guidance can be hugely useful if one has neither a paper map nor the time to carefully plan an optimal route before the trip. Now people are talking about using crowd-sourced data to inform the suggested route, as demonstrated in this paper. See below for insight into developments that will help transport planners and geographers select the best routes in case of disruption to the network.

In this talk, which took place at the FOSS4G-E conference in Bremen today, Professor Venkatesh Raghavan describes his student’s work on extending the utility of routing systems to be useful during emergencies. It is rather technical, using a variety of open source technologies, but clearly shows the potential benefits of dynamic routing systems for helping emergency services deal with emergencies across the world. Being free and open source, this software can be taken up in any country regardless of the state of its public finances.

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