Routes and travel
GIS data allows for quick analysis of distance.
- The library postcode application assesses areas by distance to a library
- The England Library visualisation creates catchment areas based upon assigning each area to a nearest library
These 'straight line' distances are often used in analysis of locations of libraries, particularly during times of consultations.
An easy option is to simply plot a radius around each library and ensure the whole authority is with X distance to a library.
There are problems with this though:
- What if there is a big river between you and a library? It may be the nearest, but it may also be a long round trip to get there.
- What about different travel types and accessibility? 3 miles on a motorway is very different to 3 miles across a city. Some routes may not be pedestrian.
Travel time and real travel distance is often more important than just straight line distances.
Open Street Map
Open Street Map is a huge online database of GIS data to create a map of the world. It includes all you would expect on a map such as roads, paths, places, buildings, and green spaces.
Having open road data means we can do more complex route analysis.
- Road speeds give an indication of how fast cars can travel on a road.
- Road inclination will give further data. Cars may not care too much about steep hill, cyclists certainly will!
- Historic traffic data can be used to give further indications of travel times.
Open Street Map data is used in Open Route Service, open source and developed by the University of Heidelberg. Free APIs are also included to calculate routes and route times for different travel types.
With this data we can look at travel times around a library for different travel types: walking, driving, cycling, etc.