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Delineating Service Areas of Public Facilities
Kunsheng Fang, North Carolina State University
Defining the service areas of public facilities is an important task in urban planning. It is essential in assessing the quality, efficiency, and equity of all sorts of service provisions. In addition, delineating service areas is a prerequisite in many location analysis and spatial optimization applications.
Delineating the service areas of facilities can be a very complex process. Depending on the characteristics of the public facilities and the scale of spatial data, facilities can be treated as spatial objects of points, lines, or polygons, and the service area of each type of these spatial objects can be delineated by creating buffer areas or constructing Voronoi Diagrams. In addition, to account for forbidden barriers and regions, network analysis and network Voronoi Diagrams can be utilized. Furthermore, in order to reflect the reality more precisely, weights should be assigned to facilities of different attributes.
This paper reviews the functionality of proprietary and FOSS GIS software in delineating service areas of facilities in an urban planning context. It summarizes tasks that are needed in delineating service areas of different facilities, compares the functionality of ESRI ArcMap and PostgreSQL/PostGIS database system in carrying out these tasks, and identifies a collection of functions that are available in ArcMap system but are missing in the PostgreSQL/PostGIS database system.
Lastly, we report the implementation of some of these missing functions using the PL/R language extension for PostgreSQL, and conclude with a list of desired functions that requires further efforts in implementation.
Kunsheng Fang is a Ph.D student in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, North Carolina State University.