Like Peanut Butter and Jelly or Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, some things are just better together. Routes and an app which can use them is also a great combination. The Navigator team is happy to announce that one of the big new features in the 18.1 release of Navigator is pre-planned routes. While the name might sound a little academic this is basically the ability to create routes on the platform and share those routes with a driver using Navigator.
Why would one want to do this? Well, there are a couple of reasons:
- You might want to give your drivers a specific route to follow so they don’t have to bother creating one in the field allowing them to focus on getting where they need to go in the simplest way.
- You might have a recurring route your drivers follow on a weekly, monthly or even annual basis. Pre-planned Routes will make this a piece of cake.
For these reasons and many others, we decided to add the ability for Navigator to use routes.
To get started you first need to create route and share it as a Route Layer. Routes can be created by a number of different tools on the ArcGIS platform.
Creating Routes in ArcGIS /Enterprise:
Arguably the easiest way to get a route is through the ArcGIS Map Viewer in ArcGIS or ArcGIS Enterprise. Before you get started, however, you will need to make sure the appropriate entitlements are granted to enable the direction capabilities, more information on that can be found here: https://doc.arcgis.com/en/arcgis-/get-started/get-directions.htm. Once configured correctly the map viewer will have direction capabilities available https://doc.arcgis.com/en/arcgis-/get-started/get-directions.htm
This tool allows you to quickly create a route, add waypoints to make sure it takes the roads and follows the path you want it to take, add stops and even add barriers. After the route is created it can be saved as a route layer item on the platform.
For more advanced routes a number of different analysis tool are also available to you through the Map Viewer. More specifically, the “Use Proximity” section of the Analysis tab has a number of analysis tools which create routes.
Of particular importance is the Plan Routes tool (https://doc.arcgis.com/en/arcgis-/analyze/plan-routes.htm). This tool offers a solution to a problem which has plagued the human race since the invention of the wheel, how to get multiple drivers to make multiple stops in the most efficient manner. This capability is commonly referred to by the very uncreative name of the “Vehicle Routing Problem” or VRP for short. Don’t let the flare free name trick you though, this is a very powerful capability of the platform allowing one to generate multiple routes for multiple drivers given a set of constraints. In short, if you have multiple drivers and multiple stops, this tool was designed for you.
Creating Routes in ArcGIS Pro:
ArcGIS Pro is also a very common place to generate routes. With a Network Analyst license in ArcGIS Pro you will have access to a number of different tools which create routes.
After the route is created it should be selected in the content view and the Route Layer tool can be used to share the route with the organization. (http://pro.arcgis.com/en/pro-app/help/analysis/networks/share-route-layer.htm)
Scripting the Creation of Routes:
It is also very common to automate the creation and sharing of routes through the use of Python. Many of the tools mentioned above are available as stand-alone tools which can be incorporated into a model or python script enabling larger automated workflows. Imagine if you had a script that took the work orders for the day and created routes for each driver before they even got to work that morning. This should all be possible through the tools available in this beta.
Using Routes in Navigator
Keeping our eyes on the prize, once a route is created and saved to the platform it is then crucial that the route is shared with specific drivers. You can do this by creating a group and adding specific drivers into the group with which route layer item is shared.
The rest is pretty simple, when the drivers log into Navigator their routes will automatically be downloaded. Downloaded routes can be accessed in the search functionality which is now front and center with this version of Navigator. In the new search experience, you will now notice a “Routes” and “Places” segmented control. With “Routes” selected you will see all the downloaded routes with the option to filter those down based on the name of the route. Tapping on a route will open the route in the map and let you start to navigate on the route by pressing “Go”.
Please let us know what you think. How is this working for you? Where did we miss the mark? What would make this feature more useful to you? If need be, tell us where to put our routes! Joking aside, the team really wants to know how to make this feature suit your needs so don’t hesitate to comment below.