GIS and Network Analysis
Both geographic information systems (GIS) and network analysis are burgeoning fields, characterised by rapid methodological and scientific advances in recent years. A geographic information system (GIS) is a digital computer application designed for the capture, storage, manipulation, analysis and display of geographic information. Geographic location is the element that distinguishes geographic information from all other types of information. Without location, data are termed to be non-spatial and would have little value within a GIS. Location is, thus, the basis for many benefits of GIS: the ability to map, the ability to measure distances and the ability to tie different kinds of information together because they refer to the same place (Longley et al., 2001). GIS-T, the application of geographic information science and systems to transportation problems, represents one of the most important application areas of GIS-technology today. While traditional GIS formulation's strengths are in mapping display and geodata processing, GIS-T requires new data structures to represent the complexities of transportation networks and to perform different network algorithms in order to fulfil its potential in the field of logistics and distribution logistics. This paper addresses these issues as follows. The section that follows discusses data models and design issues which are specifically oriented to GIS-T, and identifies several improvements of the traditional network data model that are needed to support advanced network analysis in a ground transportation context. These improvements include turn-tables, dynamic segmentation, linear referencing, traffic lines and non-planar networks. Most commercial GIS software vendors have extended their basic GIS data model during the past two decades to incorporate these innovations (Goodchild, 1998). The third section shifts attention to network routing problems that have become prominent in GIS-T: the travelling salesman problem, the vehicle routing problem and the shortest path problem with time windows, a problem that occurs as a subproblem in many time constrained routing and scheduling issues of practical importance. Such problems are conceptually simple, but mathematically complex and challenging. The focus is on theory and algorithms for solving these problems. The paper concludes with some final remarks.
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