Analyzing the Best Route and the Closest Facility

Blog Post created by jkerski-esristaff Employee on Jul 4, 2013
I recently created a set of activities based on using web-based GIS tools to teaching spatial thinking using drive-time buffers, another set of activities that use viewsheds, and another on the use of zonal statistics.    Typical modern GIS tasks also include determining the best route and the closest facilities to specific locations.  This is important for a wide range of applications, from emergency services bringing people in an ambulance to the nearest hospital to the nearest competitor to your planned new bicycle rental facility.

Finding the Route and the Closest Facility to a chosen point.

Open this web map and click somewhere on the map in northeastern San Francisco that represents a location where let's say you are currently located.  What is the closest facility to your chosen point?  Change the choice under the map to find the routes for the 1 closest facility to a point to 2 closest facilities. Two routes are shown in this image; I selected one of them, highlighted in cyan, and the directions are given for this route.

This tool is easy to run with the above link and yet can lead to so many wonderful discussions about the Can you think of real-world situations where a route to two or more closest facilities would be needed from a given point, besides the emergency and bicycle examples I gave above?  Name them and discuss why this type of analysis is so critical to our 21st Century world.