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CostMAP: An open-source software package for developing cost surfaces


  • Brendan Hoover
  • Richard S. Middleton
  • Sean Yaw


Cost Surfaces are a quantitative means of assigning social, environmental, and engineering costs that impact movement across landscapes. Cost surfaces are a crucial aspect of route optimization and least cost path (LCP) calculations and are used in a wide range of disciplines including computer science, landscape ecology, and energy infrastructure modeling. Linear features present a key weakness to traditional routing calculations along costs surfaces because they cannot identify whether moving from a cell to its adjacent neighbors constitutes crossing a linear barrier (increased cost) or following a corridor (reduced cost). Following and avoiding linear features can drastically change predicted routes. In this paper, we introduce an approach to address this "adjacency" issue using a search kernel that identifies these critical barriers and corridors. We have built this approach into a new Java-based open-source software package called CostMAP (cost surface multi-layer aggregation program), which calculates cost surfaces and cost networks using the search kernel. CostMAP not only includes the new adjacency capability, it is also a versatile multi-platform package that allows users to input multiple GIS data layers and to set weights and rules for developing a weighted-cost network. We compare CostMAP performance with traditional cost surface approaches and show significant performance gains, both following corridors and avoiding barriers, using examples in a movement ecology framework and pipeline routing for carbon capture, and storage (CCS). We also demonstrate that the new software can straightforwardly calculate cost surfaces on a national scale.

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  • Brendan Hoover & Richard S. Middleton & Sean Yaw, 2019. "CostMAP: An open-source software package for developing cost surfaces," Papers 1906.08872,
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1906.08872

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gaucherel, C., 2008. "Neutral models for polygonal landscapes with linear networks," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 219(1), pages 39-48.
    2. Driezen, Kassandra & Adriaensen, Frank & Rondinini, Carlo & Doncaster, C. Patrick & Matthysen, Erik, 2007. "Evaluating least-cost model predictions with empirical dispersal data: A case-study using radiotracking data of hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus)," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 209(2), pages 314-322.
    3. Middleton, Richard S. & Bielicki, Jeffrey M., 2009. "A scalable infrastructure model for carbon capture and storage: SimCCS," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 1052-1060, March.
    4. Hopkins, Lewis D., 1973. "Design method evaluation--an experiment with corridor selection," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 423-436, October.
    5. Richard S. Middleton & Jonathan S. Levine & Jeffrey M. Bielicki & Hari S. Viswanathan & J. William Carey & Philip H. Stauffer, 2015. "Jumpstarting commercialā€scale CO2 capture and storage with ethylene production and enhanced oil recovery in the US Gulf," Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 5(3), pages 241-253, June.
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