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With today’s roads being an integral part of a country’s infrastructure it makes sense that the route planning function for vehicles delivering/collecting goods on those roads utilises a suite of software tools to make the process efficient and cost effective. And that means managing traffic congestion. GIS is an ideal solution, as it has provided several applications for this purpose, helping companies to design routes that consider traffic.
GIS and Route Planning
GIS’s role in delivery route planning is a critical one. When roads become clogged with traffic, delivery companies lose time and money. GIS helps businesses to figure out which route is best in order to get the optimum cost/benefit ratio, regardless of what their drivers are delivering. GIS allows for catchment areas to be analysed for different sites and overall drive times to and from a site to be calculated. It also allows for optimal accessibility, as well as the maximising of potential customer inflow.
Tracking and GIS
Any company who deploys vehicles not only wants to know the quickest way to get from one point to another, but also where a vehicle is at any given moment. GPS located on board a fleet vehicle monitors that vehicle’s position, and that information is transmitted to headquarters via GSM (global system for mobile communication). The final step is GIS, which displays the collected information on a map. Most important for the dispatch operation is the analysis of Plan versus Actual: Any deviation detected by the GPS tracking from the plan can be assessed and, if needs be, communicated to the customer.
Using GIS to Manage Traffic Problems
Currently, the UK Highway Agency monitors traffic at critical points 24 hours a day. This is done with cameras and counting devices, among other tools. Information is gathered and then communicated to the public, and is also analysed for future traffic control. SatNav providers also collate data from the devices in their customer’s vehicles. This data is sold to Route Planning Software providers who can include it when the software calculates routes thus providing optimal routes that takes into account traffic congestion.
GIS plays a crucial role in traffic control as well as route planning enabling software users to see the ‘big picture’ of traffic congestion along any route and make adjustments to route plans accordingly.
GIS and Navigation
For drivers, GIS plays an integral role in the day-to-day operation of their vehicle. Today’s in-vehicle system works in conjunction with GPS to provide drivers with a map database that provides navigation on a turn-by-turn basis. Not only that, but it provides drivers with all delivery and collection points and the route itself replete with site specific instructions and hazard warnings.
GIS and Logistics
Histrocially GIS was a ‘stand-alone’ system often only used for planning activity. GIS is no longer on its own when it comes to fleet management, logistics and route planning. Today, GIS is interfaced and/or merged into software solutions to become an integral part of the logistics function within organisations.
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