on Optimal Routes in GIS and Emergency Planning Applications (Dunn & Newton, 1992)

Dunn & Newton offer a pretty decent summary of the most basic form of optimal/shortest path algorithms, and what they say still holds true (at least to my understanding …) some 27 years later. They describe how Dijkstra’s and the “out-of-kilter” algorithms determine routes, the different uses for each of them in emergency planning, the computational requirements, and finally some potential developments in the topic.¬†Although a verbal description of the contents of a matrix isn’t the most intuitive or interesting to me, I found the easy enough to follow and I’m glad they included the few visuals they did.

It is interesting to see what they list as future development opportunities, as most of these things are now incorporated into every current mapping site, public transit app, and dashboard GPS. Even their “most difficult challenge”, temporal change, has been met, and I can map myself to¬†Saskatoon in a few seconds without having to worry about getting stuck in heavy traffic or road closures. It is honestly very difficult to think of something else that I would want to incorporate into shortest path algorithms or an application like Google Maps. My first two thoughts are pedestrian traffic and incorporating greater local knowledge for more complex decisions. i feel like pedestrian traffic could be done very easily through traffic projection just like street traffic, and I’m sure someone has at least tried to do it. On local knowledge, I guess I mean if you want to ask something like “find me the most scenic drive”, “avoid routes where there are frequent accidents”, “only take me down streets with ample night lighting”. Some of these could lead into problematic discussions surrounding the ideas of aesthetics (who decides?) and safety (for who?).

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