Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cross Country Mobility for Microsoft Surface

Yesterday the Applications Prototype Lab at ESRI released demonstration videos of two Microsoft Surface applications.  The first was a demonstration of a simulated police dispatcher (announced here) and the second is a cross country mobility application discussed in this post.

This Surface application is built with ESRI’s ArcGIS API for WPF and references map and geoprocessing services from ArcGIS Server.  Cross country mobility is the name giving to an exercise of determining the most efficient path between two locations.  Depending on the data (and parameters) the end user can find a route that is the fastest, shortest, most fuel efficient, avoids urban areas, flattest or any other condition.

The first step illustrated in the video is the rating of three geographic layers: slope, vegetation and transportation.  The user can assign a preference to weight one more than others.  For example, slope could be a larger consideration if moving heavy equipment than the vegetation type.  Secondly, items within each layer can also be rated.  For example, the user can indicate that low slope is preferable to steep slopes and that grades great than 40° are “no go” (or impossible to traverse).

The next step is to indicate the intended target location for the three flagged vehicles/people/units.  In the demonstration video the target is represented by a bulls eye button than can dragged into position.

After the three geographic layer have been rated and the target placed into position, a request is sent to ArcGIS Server to perform a weighted overlay using the user defined parameters.  The result is a new geographic layer called a cost surface.  A cost surface is like an image where each pixel contains a cost value, that is, the cost for an object to traverse it.

The next step, uses the cost surface to find the least cost path from the three flagged objects to the target.

The final step is the creation of a cost corridor.  A cost corridor is an area around the least cost path with a plus or minus one, two and three percent variation.  Basically, what alternative path could the three flagged objects take by sacrificing one to three percent cost (in time, money, fuel etc).

This is a very brief discussion of one of many geoprocessing capabilities in the ArcGIS product suite.  I would encourage you to explore this exciting technology at the ESRI website.

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