[OSGeo-Discuss] Thoughts on how to use elevation in routing

Richard Greenwood richard.greenwood at gmail.com
Tue Sep 14 09:52:37 PDT 2010

I think "cruvyness" might also be a useful resistance factor, and it
is often associated with grade, as in steep mountain roads with lots
of switchbacks. After attending FOSS4G last week my wife and I have
been driving and biking in the Pyrenees and experiencing the effects
of both cruvyness and grade on our travel times.


On Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 10:31 AM, Stephen Woodbridge
<woodbri at swoodbridge.com> wrote:
> On 9/14/2010 11:43 AM, Bill Thoen wrote:
>>  Steve,
>> Adding viewsheds to the package would certainly up the computing costs;
>> I was wondering if you had a limit to what sort of processing power
>> you've got there. ;-)
> It is not unlimited, so part of the problem that is interesting to me is how
> to find and compute economical way to do it.
>> I also think what you're proposing might be interesting, but you have to
>> be careful about what conclusions you can draw from it. At what point
>> does the cost due to gradient variations become insignificant to the
>> overall cost of a route for a particular type of vehicle? For a trucker
>> on an interstate highway it doesn't signify because the statistical
>> noise of factors such high speeds and short driving time balanced
>> against the higher price of fuel, services and road freight taxes
>> completely overwhelms the cost factor contributed by the change in
>> gradients. So in those cases you'd be computing numbers but not saying
>> anything.
> Agreed, doing anything for the trucking industry that would be useful
> probably requires a lot more understanding of the industry and regulations
> required for that. Luckily it is not my main focus :)
>> A different scenario, where gradient /is/ a significant factor, would be
>> a three-day 100 mile bike ride event through the mountains (like the
>> 'Ride the Rockies' event they hold around here every year.) The power
>> that bicyclists can produce is so low that speeds and endurance are
>> strongly affected by grades. But a bicyclist doesn't typically operate
>> on the scale of the nation so applying the calculations to the entire
>> TIGER file is overkill. Also, the bicyclist operates on such a large
>> scale that the source data you're using to calculate gradient (30m DEM)
>> may be too coarse to be reliable on the bicyclist's scale.
> Right, these points are all valid and have crossed my mind at one point or
> another. Applying this to the Tiger data set is not that big of a deal. I
> already have the Tiger data in XYZ so computing grades is not that
> difficult. Another reason for applying it to the whole data set is to build
> a web portal with US coverage. Granted any single route will not have
> continental scope, but individual routes might be anywhere on the continent.
>> I'm not saying it isn't worth doing, I'm just saying you'll need to
>> qualify the precision of your results before you can say much about
>> applying this to any real-world problems.
> I'll post a link back if I get anything working. Meanwhile, thanks for the
> ideas and thoughts.
> -Steve
>> - Bill Thoen
>> On 9/13/2010 5:28 PM, Stephen Woodbridge wrote:
>>> Bill,
>>> Thanks for the ideas. I might try to do something with the viewshed
>>> idea in the future. It would need a LOT of computing to process all
>>> the road segments in a National dataset like Tiger.
>>> But for now I would like to figure out the routing costs.
>>> One idea I had was to compute the grade for a segment and then compute
>>> cost as:
>>> cost = (time or distance) * scalefactor * max(abs(grade), 1.0)
>>> This would have the effect of causing segments with a lot of grade to
>>> have a higher cost of traversal.
>>> Or similarly, if you want to pick roads with a lot of elevation
>>> changes then use cost factor like:
>>> cost = (time or distance) * scalefactor /
>>> abs(sum_elevation_changes_over_the_segment)
>>> This would have the effect of decreasing the traversal cost for
>>> segments that have a lot of elevation changes.
>>> These are pretty crude estimates and probably would need some fine
>>> tuning to get reasonable results.
>>> Thanks,
>>> -Steve W
>>> On 9/13/2010 4:24 PM, Bill Thoen wrote:
>>>> Stephen Woodbridge wrote:
>>>>> Hi all,
>>>>> (This is cross posting from the pgrouting list, sorry for the dups.)
>>>>> I have preprocessed some shapefile data and added elevation
>>>>> information in the Z value of the coordinates. I'm wondering how to
>>>>> best utilize that in routes and would like any thoughts or ideas you
>>>>> might be willing to share.
>>>>> The obvious answer is to wrap the elevation data into the cost values
>>>>> as this is simple and straight forward and does not require code
>>>>> changes. This brings me to what have other people done or thought
>>>>> about doing in this regard?
>>>> Since you seem to enjoy large database problems, have you considered
>>>> loading the DEM data together with the roads and sample the viewshed
>>>> every few km? You could then create an objective cost factor for
>>>> "scenic," proportional to the amount of land visible, with some
>>>> adjusting factor that distinguishes morphology, land cover, or other
>>>> weighted factors from each sample point. Creating a scale of "scenic"
>>>> and "picturesque" as it goes form "ho-hum flatland" to "precipitous,
>>>> brake-burning, wheel-gripping adventurous" might be fun all by itself.
>>>> If you're looking for 3D ideas, there's a GIS consulting company across
>>>> the hall from me that specializes in 3D information, visualization and
>>>> analysis, and I know they are working on web services to deliver the
>>>> sort of data that an application like yours would consume. Their website
>>>> is full of 3D imagery, articles and examples that you might want to
>>>> check out for ideas or inspiration There's a particularly good
>>>> demonstration of using fog instead of shadow to create a visual
>>>> representation of ridge lines, if your 're using those to determine a
>>>> topographic index (see http://ctmap.com/serendipity/index.php).
>>>> *Bill Thoen*
>>>> GISnet - www.gisnet.com <http://www.gisnet.com/>
>>>> 1401 Walnut St., Suite C
>>>> Boulder, CO 80302
>>>> 303-786-9961 tel
>>>> 303-443-4856 fax
>>>> bthoen at gisnet.com
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>> --
>> *Bill Thoen*
>> GISnet - www.gisnet.com
>> 303-786-9961
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Richard Greenwood
richard.greenwood at gmail.com

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