GIS is already a useful part of the emergency response process, identifying the location of the caller, providing EMS vehicle locations to dispatchers, and determining routes for first responders. Current routing systems use a combination of street distances, speed limit, and historical traffic pattern information to plan the quickest route. Historical traffic patterns reflect the general levels of congestion along city streets at different times of the day. Although this expected congestion is an important component of travel time, it does not account for real-time shifts in traffic conditions – especially those caused by car accidents themselves.
To improve upon this model, Panahi and Delavar advocate considering real-time traffic data when routing emergency vehicles. Their routing system creates an “initial shortest path” based on the starting location of responders, their destination, and historical traffic data. If real-time traffic data is available, the route is then modified in response to changing conditions. Throughout this process, routes can be visualized and displayed on road maps to both EMS drivers and management.
Panahi and Delavar tested their model in a small area of Tehran, Iran, and found that their model reduced emergency response travel time by an average of 20%. The use of GIS-driven dynamic routing systems could mean more efficient – and therefore more effective – emergency services.
Panahi, S., & Delavar, M. R. (2009). Dynamic Shortest Path in Ambulance Routing Based on GIS. International Journal of Geoinformatics, 5(1).
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