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Customised Road Networks is a less well known but significant branch of GIS technology. Many companies use road network map data from providers such as Here (formerly Navteq), Google Maps and the Ordnance Survey. Like a paper map they contain data relating to physical geography and the road / street network depending on the level of detail. These ‘base’ maps can be purchased with an additional range of data sets that can be accessed through a GIS, such as, road speeds, turn restrictions, low bridges, water courses, flood areas, smokeless zones, etc.
Customised for the Client
The base maps and additional data sets may not contain data that is unique to a client. For example, forest tracks may not be on the map from the Ordnance Survey but fully loaded trucks hauling cut trees should be navigated along them replete with hazard warnings such as ‘overhead power cables’, ‘damaged culvert’ and ‘harvesting area ahead’. Other examples include ensuring that waste collection vehicles only collect when facing uphill or to ensure that postman deliver up one side of the street and down the other or ‘meander’ (cross the road). Service times per product/service is unique to each business sector even though they are serving the same street and/or property – the average time taken to read the gas meter is longer to empty the residual waste bin.
Customised for the Service, Route Optimisation and for Navigation
With GIS the base map can be altered to include streets, paths, alleys, etc that do not appear on the original but that are used by operatives to provide a service. In addition, turn restrictions, one way instructions and similar can be changed, added or deleted on a permanent or time restricted basis. Moreover, these additions can be used for route planning and route optimisation, and are fully navigable with specialised in-cab technology.
Such sector specific details are easily handled in the GIS as part of a customised road network. An organisation may well have more than one street network in a single GIS. An environmental service operation may have one street network for waste collection, another for street sweeping and yet another for winter maintenance (gritting / salting). A utility company may well have one network for gas / electric meter reading with a different one for Smart Meter roll-out programmes. The reasons for the differences can by myriad but typically focus on ‘mixed mode’ servicing, ie, walking and/or cycling and / or driving, or geographical location (urban/rural or mixed), employee contract variations, seasonal variations, day/night shift patterns that affect road speeds, etc.