Can network analyst help me with snow route planning?

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03-23-2016 06:54 AM
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New Contributor II

I am working on a project where we would like to optimize the existing snow routes for a city with approximately 15 vehicles and over 40 routes and I trying to determine if Network Analyst and the available solvers from Esri can support this task?

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MVP Frequent Contributor

I don't have an exact answer, but I've seen several references in the past to Snow Removal processes that ESRI supports.  It appears that the various solutions employ more than just Network Analyst.  Here's some of them:

Solutions of Smart Snow Fighting

Managing GIS Operations for Snow Removal for the City of Columbus—Warrior Style | ArcNews

SnowCOP | ArcGIS for Local Government

There is also an older thread on this:

Snow Plow Routing

One specific issue I can think of that will come up with using purely Network Analyst is that the routing process doesn't have a restriction to limit duplication, i.e. the default routing process assumes all vehicles that can be routed can use all roads, so it will have multiple vehicles travel across (plow) the same roads.  There are probably ways to get around this, but "out of the box" it has some limitations, so other software/coding/add-ons will be needed to overcome this.

Chris Donohue, GISP

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New Contributor II

Thanks Chris.  I appreciate the help.  It seems that there may be a solution in there, but it's going to require a little bit of work to craft one.

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MVP Esteemed Contributor

One of Chris' links above discusses the Chinese Mailman Routing problem, which ESRI's network analysis doesn't provide a solution for.  However, I've considered a pseudo-solution that may work in a pinch; what if you created a set of points that represent mid-block, even and odd addresses.  With such a feature class, I think you might be able to create a Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) solution that is supported by NA.

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New Contributor II

Thanks Joe.  Yeah, that was one of the approaches we were thinking about - adding 'destinations' along the midpoint of the street on either side that would need to be plowed.  It seems like the tools are there, just need to figure out the right combination. 

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MVP Frequent Contributor

The idea proposed by Joe Borgione has possibilities.

I agree that Network Analyst has the potential to do this,  but seems somehow to be "missing" the final bits to make it all come together.  I guess that's why there are third-party vendors who have come up with software specific to snow removal - they added the extra bits.

Chris Donohue, GISP

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New Contributor II

It would seem that there is the possibility of getting close, but not exactly as indicated by another post on GeoNET​ and as you mentioned why the third-party vendors are tackling this specific problem. 

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